- Beautiful, high resolution screen
- Front facing speakers
- Decent performance
- No 64GB or 128GB version available
- Poor camera quality
Quick TakeA respectable mid-size Android tablet aimed at business people, with the useful ability to wirelessly receive notes written on paper with a special pen.
HP has targeted the Pro Slate 8 at businesspeople, and gave this mid-size Android tablet a high resolution display, dual front facing speakers, and a price that starts at $449.
What sets it apart from the pack is a stylus that can be used not just on the tablet’s screen but also to write and draw on paper and have the ink wirelessly transferred to the Pro Slate 8.
Build and Design
This HP model is average sized for an 8-inch tablet, though somewhat thicker than some of its rivals, coming in at 8.15 x 5.39 x 0.31 inches. For comparison, the iPad mini 4 is 0.24 inches thick, but the Lenovo Tab 2 A8-50 is 0.35 inches.
The front of this HP device is mostly glass, but there are also two large front-facing speakers, and combined with some sharp edges it has a slightly industrial look. The Pro Slate 8’s casing is all plastic, and the product is available in only one color: grey.
The weight is 0.77 pounds, which makes it a bit heavier than Apple’s latest mid-size tablet but lighter than Lenovo’s. The device feels somewhat sturdy, but will flex a small amount if twisted.
HP put a quality screen in the Pro Slate 8. It’s 7.9-inches and 2048 x 1536, so it has a pixel density of 326 ppi. It is essentially identical to the display in the iPad mini 4, and nearly as good as one in the Dell Venue 8 7840.
Our tests of this device showed that colors are vivid, and the backlight is bright enough that it can be used outdoors. Combine these with the high number of pixels per inch and this is a display well suited for everything from looking at PDFs to watching video.
Like all 8-inch tablets, the screen is a bit small to be used all day long as someone’s primary computer, even on a business trip. Still, it is a far better option for this than a smartphone.
The Pro Slate 8 is one of the few tablets to come with a stylus, and one with a unique trick at that: The Duet Pen can be used on this computer’s touchscreen like any stylus, but it can also be used to write on paper, and have the writing appear on the tablet’s display in an application called HP Note.
This function doesn’t require the Pro Slate 8 Paper Folio, but this $69 add-on makes it easier, as the accessory holds the paper at the right distance from the tablet.
In our tests, we found the wireless ink transfer to generally work well, though not 100% of the time. The tablet tracks the stylus with ultrasonic signals, so it’s important that the writing be done on the left side of the device where the microphones can pick up the signals. This means that right-handed people (90% of the population) need to turn the Pro Slate 8 upside down when the device is transcribing the users’ writing, otherwise their hands and arms tend to block the ultrasonic signals. The screen can reverse itself, so it’s not a serious issue, but it’s curious that HP didn’t come up with a better solution.
The Duet Pen itself is rather thick and looks a bit odd because of the ultrasonic functionality built into it. The very tip is removable and reversible, with one end a standard stylus and the other a pen. The area to store ink for the pen is very small, and frequently replacements will probably be required for those who embrace this technology.
Buttons, Ports, and Speakers
HP followed Google’s guidelines to include minimal buttons, so there is no physical Home button, just one for Power and a volume control on the right edge. There’s also no fingerprint scanner, which is slightly surprising for a business oriented model like the Pro Slate 8.
The two front facing speakers make this an unusually good option among mid-size tablets for watching video. Sound quality is quite good, and they are capable of being heard in a moderately noisy environment.
A microSD card reader is on the left side of this device for adding additional files. It is in a holder that requires a pin or paperclip to eject, greatly decreasing the chance that the card will be accidentally lost.
There’s also a ZIF connector on the left side to connect HP keyboards.
The usual micro-USB port is on the bottom of the Pro Slate 8 for charging and wired data transfers. We were able to use a thumbdrive with a micro-USB jack with this model.