HP Slate 500 impressions
HP Slate 500
I have been using the HP Tablet PC TC1100 for several years now and have been looking forward to when HP would improve it with an updated model. Well needless to say I was very excited when Steve Ballmer made his announcement at the CIS 2009 show where he showed off the HP Slate prototype. It did however take more than a year for it to reach the market, but it has been everything that I could have wished for.
Operating System: Windows 7 Professional 32 bit
Processor: Intel Atom Processor Z540 (1.86 GHz, 512 KB L2 cache, 533 MHz FSB)
Memory: 2 GB DDR2
Internal Storage: 64 GB SSD Flash Module (SATA)
Display: 8.9-inch Diagonal LED-backlit WSVGA
Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500 Broadcom Crystal HD Enhanced Video Accelerator
Audio/Visual: High Definition Audio, Integrated Stereo Speakers, Integrated Microphone, combo stereo headphone/microphone jack, two integrated cameras: VGA webcam (inward facing), 3MP camera (outward facing)
Wireless Support: 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth
Expansion Slots: Secure Digital supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC
Ports and Connectors: (1) USB 2.0 Port, Power Connector / HP Slate Dock connector, combo stereo headphone/microphone jack; optional HP Slate Dock: (2) USB 2.0 ports, (1) HDMI connector
Input Devices: HP Slate Digital Pen (N-trig digitizer)
Dimensions: 5.91” x 9.21” x 0.58”
Included Accessories: Docking Station, Leather Folio, and Stylus Pen
Docking Stations / Cradle: A nice small compact device with folding leg that fits nicely in a bag. Includes two additional USB slots, HDMI, and additional audio jack.
Leather Portfolio: Case that the HP Slate fits nicely into that has a front facing cutout and back cutout for the cameras.
Digital Pen: Stylus pen that contains AAAA batteries with a right click button.
Software: EVERNOTE is loaded, but with an out dated version. It is free software so updating it is easy. What is nice is there is no other bloat ware installed.
The back of the HP Slate is a nice rubberized material with a diamond pattern, which gives the Slate a great grip. The Slate has a nice solid feel and is a great fit in your hands. At 1.5lbs it is very light in weight. Slides very nicely in my bag. The Slate internals are enclosed and are not accessible. The Slate is very quiet as well without fans. Huge knock on the TC1100, very noisy fan. GRADE: A
Unfortunately the Windows Experience Index rates the Slate at a 2.4 which is determined by the lowest score of the gaming graphics. The next lowest score was the processor (2.7). The Slate has an Atom processor which is similar to what is in a typically netbook. The boot time is rather quick compared to my work laptop and the 2gb of memory and 64gb SSD Disk are rather nice and make it pretty snappy. GRADE: B
There are five buttons located on each side and on the top. The button on the left side is the keyboard button. On the top are the volume buttons, the home button, and the CTRL-ALT-DEL button. On the right side is the power button along with a screen rotation lock switch. GRADE: A
The display size is 8.9” and is the brightness is very adequate. I have heard of people on TabletPCReview forum stating that they have experienced some scratching on the glass. I installed a NuShield DayVue Screen Protector to protect and prevent the scratches. The screen protector did help a little with the loud sounds the digitizer pen makes. Not sure how the Graphics can score a 4.4 and the Gaming graphics score a 2.4. GRADE: C
The battery is not accessible, so there is no way to change it out if it goes bad. You will need to send it in to HP for them to change it. There is a year warranty on the battery so we’ll see if this is a problem. HP claims the battery is up to 5 hours and I can confirm that the battery lasts that long. I just recently was at a conference and used it for taking notes in OneNote and some light web browsing and it lasted close to the 5 hours of use. I have noticed that it does take a long time to charge the battery back up to full strength and the battery meter sometimes does not accurately update real time. GRADE: B (Not accessible)
Huge flaw in this device is the non-standard power plug. Use the same plug for the docking station. Have to hack a power cable to build a cable for Energizer battery pack because there is not a standard plug. GRADE: D
The HP Slate uses N-trig pen and driver (Driver version 126.96.36.199 & Firmware version 188.8.131.52.15). This is my first time using N-trig and I am not impressed at all. The TC1100 uses Wacom and it is a far better inking experience. This is really my biggest gripe because inking is my primary use of the slate. Also, the pen noise is terrible. It makes a very loud clicking sound when inking. The contact of the nib inside the pen shaft. Note: Highly recommend setting the Digitizer to auto mode so you do not get any false palm touches. Being a left hander I was initially having issues when writing with my hand rubbing across the screen as I was writing. Auto mode enable you to switch quickly between either pen or touch screen by using a double-tap anywhere on the screen. GRADE: D
The multi-touch uses the N-trig DuoSense interface. I am new to the multi-touch and this is such a huge win for this device. One thing that I have noticed is the pinch zoom in and out is not as fluid as the iPad, but not a show stopper. IE9 rocks with multi-touch. GRADE: B
The Slate includes a front (VGA) and rear facing (3MP) camera/video. The quality of the rear camera is better than the front facing. Sad to see the lack of a Ethernet port in the device or the docking station (Wireless only). I was successful in using a USB to Ethernet port from the docking station and it worked great so it is a workaround. I have not tried out the HDMI port on the docking station, but a nice option to attach to an external monitor or connect to HD TV if you wanted. GRADE: B
The pluses are the size, weight, and battery life. My main negatives would be the pen digitizer (N-trig) and processing power. Overall I would give the HP Slate a solid B grade.
RECOMMENDED CHANGES FOR NEXT GENERATION OF SLATE
1. Better pen digitizer. The pen noise is horrible. Make the pen longer. The battery in the pen makes the pen not very balanced in the hand. Recommend WACOM!!!!
2. Better power plug that is a standard type plug.
3. Faster CPU that includes TPM Chip for BitLocker maybe even 64bit. Windows Ultimate instead of Professional for the BitLocker.
4. Harder Glass to prevent scratching.
5. Ethernet plug in the docking station.