Skip to main content

Hands On: HP goes all-in on Android, releasing four tablets for the holidays

hp slate android tablets 2013 hands on hpslate10hd 05
Image used with permission by copyright holder

HP is probably one of the last major electronics manufacturers to get into the Android game. We worried about the company’s commitment to Sparkle Motion when the HP Slate 7 came out. Underpowered, sub-par display, bad battery life, the list goes on. But then there was glimmer of hope: the SlateBook x2 looked pretty sweet. Could that be a harbinger of good things to come? Looks like the answer might be yes. HP has unveiled four new Android tablets, all named HP Slate-something, that are doing their best to make us forget about that other thing.

HP Slate 7 HD
Image used with permission by copyright holder

First up is the HP Slate7 HD. Adding HD to a product name is an easy way to make it seem better (just ask Amazon), but that HD has to signify something. In this case, a higher resolution display: 1280 x 800 pixels. Not the highest or even high end, but respectable for a 7-inch tablet.

Slate 7 HD and Slate 10 HD

The Slate 7 HD can boast several improvements. The screen itself is much better quality with wide viewing angles and bright colors. The overall design is much sleeker and more comfortable to hold. The texture on the back is a nice touch, as are design touches like the red ring around the 5-megapixel camera on back.

Inside, a dual-core processor runs the show, and so far it looks much faster than the chip from the original Slate. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is smooth and framerates look speedy. HP continues to just go with stock, no skin, and so far we’re not complaining.

Aside from the Micro USB port there’s a MicroSD card slot and a SIM card slot. This won’t be standard on all models. The mobile broadband models will offer an extra incentive for what will surely be the extra cost: free T-Mobile 4G data for two years. It’s only 200MB per month, but that’s still pretty generous and probably enough for those few times you need to download something and can’t find Wi-Fi.

HP Slate 10 HD
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The big brother to the Slate 7 HD tablet is the Slate 10 HD. There’s not much difference between the two of them except screen size. They even have the same resolution, which is more of a problem with this size screen. They have the same chip inside, same ports, and same T-Mobile deal for broadband versions.

We’re fans of the striking color, and again the back has a nice texture. The tablet is light for a 10-incher and comfortable to hold.

HP isn’t releasing prices on these or any of the other tablets yet and will only say they’ll be out in November. We’re hoping the 7 HD will be $200 or less and the 10 HD will come in around $350 or less.

HP Slate 7 Extreme

HP stepped up in the realm of entry-level tablets, but the company isn’t content to just compete with the Nexus 7. It wants to go Extreme. Thus, the HP Slate 7 Extreme. This 7-incher would probably beat up the original Slate 7 before using its carcass to carve scratchitti into its own glass. That’s extreme, right?

HP Slate 7 Extreme
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The 7 Extreme is based on the Nvidia Tegra Note reference platform-something a chip maker provides for consumer hardware companies to build on-so it has an Nvidia Tegra 4 chip inside, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a 1280 x 800 pixel display. That’s not an extreme resolution, for sure. It’s fine for a 7-inch tablet.

Since this is based directly on a design from Nvidia, the Slate is bound to be a great platform for Android games. HP plans to highlight this aspect by offering Bluetooth game controllers and encouraging people to hook it up to their HDTVs via the micro HDMI port. This setup may satisfy the casual gamer and young kids, though we worry that HP’s strategy of selling this tablet as a console alternative might not work out for them. On it’s own the Slate looks like a capable multimedia machine thanks to the front-facing speakers and the bright, quality display.

HP Slate 7 Extreme
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We mentioned the reference design is called the Tegra Note, and that’s because it has an integrated stylus. What’s different about this pen is that it uses capacitive stylus technology (the kind that mimics your fingertip) with a fine-tip, yet still offers pressure sensitivity and palm rejection like a digitized stylus. This way HP can keep costs down yet still offer a good pen experience. During our hands-on the palm rejection worked, the pressure sensitivity was only so-so. The demo units aren’t production ready yet, so we’ll hold off judgment until we see the final.

Like the others, the Extreme runs Android 4.2 with no skin. It will come with two pen-enhanced apps for drawing and taking notes. More will come after launch.

Even with the integrated pen, the Slate 7 Extreme is more of an entertainment and artistic device than a business one.

HP Slate 8 Pro

For business, you’ll need to check out the last of HP’s new tablets, the Slate 8 Pro.

HP Slate 8 Pro
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Slate 8 Pro is HP’s iPad Mini challenger. So much so that the tablet not only has a 7.9-inch display, it also has a 4:3 aspect ratio, just like the iPad. HP’s baby has a 1600 x 1200 pixel resolution; higher than the iPad. The result is a wider than average Android tablet that’s okay to hold in one hand but will be a stretch for those with small hands. It’s not unwieldy, though. The Slate 8 is light for the size and feels comfortable in the hand. The screen is pixel dense with wide viewing angles and popping colors. And the 8-megapixel camera on the back isn’t terrible!

HP will market this as a BYOD work device and thus pre-loads some business-friendly apps to start. This Slate also runs on Tegra 4 and has an HDMI out port for presentations as well as games and video.

As with the other tablets, we don’t know the price yet. Expect the Slate 8 Pro to have premium pricing. It has the word Pro in it, after all. The Slate 7 Extreme will probably come in closer to $200. All will come to stores in November. 

HP finally gets it?

From our short hands-on time with each of these devices, it looks like HP finally understands what makes a decent Android tablet. All the important elements from design and display quality to performance and software seem to be in line with our favorite tablets already on the market. We won’t know for sure until we do a full review. Still, there is cause to hope that HP is finally getting this tablet thing right.

Editors' Recommendations

K. T. Bradford
Former Digital Trends Contributor
K. T Bradford is a lover of gadgets and all things geek. Prior to writing for Digital Trends she cut her teeth on tech…
Tech gifts in stock with holiday delivery: Apple Watch, Fire HD tablet
Apple Watch Series 7 GPS, 41mm Blue Aluminum Case with Abyss Blue Sport Band - Regular

A few of the largest retailers in the world today are offering some amazing deals on tech that makes for great gifting this holiday season. And with the days of unwrapping presents growing ever nearer, it's important to shop with delivery dates in mind. All of the tech you'll find here is available and ready to arrive at your doorstep in time for Christmas. Included are some of the best headphone deals, tablet deals and smartwatch deals, so read onward, as we're certain there's something for you or a loved offered with a discount today.
Amazon Fire HD 8 -- $55, was $90

The always affordable Amazon Fire HD 8 is the perfect tablet for any age group, as its low price is combined with fantastic durability, which you can read more about in our Amazon Fire HD 8 review. The tablet features all-day battery life and charges fully in under 5 hours, and its compact size makes it a great take-anywhere device for anybody needing regular access to email, video chatting, streaming video services, and social media. Amazon currently has it at a discounted price of $55, a savings of $35 off its regular price, and free shipping will have it to you in time for Christmas.

Read more
Lenovo goes big on Android tablets, and we mean really big
lenovo android tablets yoga tab 13 news m7 hand

Lenovo has gone tablet mad at Mobile World Congress 2021 and announced five new Android-based models, with the most interesting being the enormous Yoga Tab 13, which as the name hints has a whopping 13-inch screen. It’s joined by a slightly smaller 11-inch version, along with the Tab M7 and Tab M8, and the Tab P11 Plus too. Let’s take a closer look.
Yoga Tab 13 and Yoga Tab 11
Lenovo’s gunning for Apple’s iPad Pro range with the new Yoga Tab 13 and Yoga Tab 11, but while the screen sizes are similar to Apple’s best tablets, the Lenovo models have some interesting design features that make them stand out. The Yoga Tab 13 has an unusual Alcantara-covered back, and both models continue with Lenovo’s clever stainless steel kickstand design. It’s integrated into the barrel running down one side of the tablet, and can be used to hold the tablet up in landscape orientation, or even hung from a hook on the wall.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 Image used with permission by copyright holder

Read more
Amazon Kids Edition devices heavily discounted for Prime Day 2020
amazon kids edition device discounted for prime day 2020 fire deals

Amazon's big Black Friday-level blowout sale was postponed in the summer due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the show must go on, and the 2020 Prime Day deals are finally here. This Prime member-exclusive event has everything from computers to furniture marked down to some of the lowest prices you'll see all year, and it's no surprise that Amazon's own excellent Kindle and Fire devices will be on sale as well. A friendly reminder: once Prime Day deals come to an end, Black Friday deals soon start to show up on the horizon, so be here to check them out.

Amazon offers a number of these gadgets in configurations made just for kids, too, featuring built-in parental controls and edutainment tailored just for younger people. If you're looking for Prime Day Amazon Kids Edition deals for a little techie you know, then read on, because we've got them all right here:

Read more