The HP Slate 7 runs a nearly “stock” version of Google’s Android. Unlike Samsung, HP hasn’t modified the look and feel of the user interface — it’s exactly the way Google intended it.
It’s running Android 4.1.1, which isn’t the latest version of this operating system, but it’s close. There are few models that have OS 4.2 except outside of the Nexus series.
This tablet has a 1.6 GHz dual-core Rockchip RK3066 Cortex-A9 processor, with 1GB of RAM. Because of a software bug we were unable to run our standard Quadrent benchmark test on this model, so AnTuTu was used instead, returning a score of 11752. This makes the Slate 7 marginally slower than the Google Nexus 7, which had a score of 12726.
The Slate 7 comes with 8GB of storage, but this can be increased by inserting a microSD card into the slot on the top.
As discussed, this tablet is running a nearly stock version of Android, so it comes with all Google’s standard apps and almost nothing else — the only addition seems to be HP ePrint.
This is actually a good thing. The suite of software that comes with this operating system is quite useful, and the apps that device makers typically load up their devices with are called “bloatware” for a reason: they are generally useless and uninstallable.
The standard apps go well beyond a web browser and email client. There is a suite of software connected to the Google Play store where you can buy movies and TV shows, eBooks, and music. If you want more, you can also choose from hundreds of thousands of third-party apps that are easily downloaded and installed.
Despite the broad array of Android software available, the vast majority of apps are formatted for smartphones, not tablets. But that’s one of the strengths of 7-inch tablets: software designed for small phone screens still look fairly good on them. The same apps look terrible on 10-inch screens.
The battery life of the HP Slate 7 is decent, but not great. In tests, the device was good for about four hours of usage before the low-battery warning.
Four hours is enough to get you through a day of light use followed by an evening of web surfing while watching TV, but it can’t make it through a whole workday without a recharge. Of course, the Slate 7 isn’t really intended to be the sort of computer that’s used for an entire workday.
It includes a 3-megapixel rear camera and a VGA camera on the front for video conferencing.
The main camera is surprisingly good. Pictures taken in good lighting look fine, and putting it in night mode allowed the camera to take acceptable shots of non-moving objects in low light.
Tablet cameras are rarely used, but this is a nice option for when you want to snap a quick picture and post it on the social-networking site of your choice.