This is the good HP. We knew that HP had been planning on making some new Android hardware, but the Slate 7 is still a pleasant surprise. Because it’s good.
The Slate 7 is built on almost-stock Android. “Almost” means that a few things are added — Beats audio and, sigh, in-app PRINTING (THANKS HP REALLY WANTED THAT) — but other than that, it’s the same build you’d see in a Nexus (though this is built on 4.1.1). Integrated, not skinned. Playing with it, it’s just as fast and fluid as a stock build. This might be a better way to do Android.
As for the hardware, you'd never guess from holding it that this is a $US169 tablet. Its got a soft touch back plate and a stainless steel side, and, more importantly, it feels sturdy without being heavy, and is comfortable to hold in portrait or landscape because of its 16:10 size. It's essentially like using a variant of the Nexus 7 that is made differently, but not perceptibly worse. And cheaper.
The 1024x600 display isn't amazing for its vibrance or sharpness, but it's on par with the Nexus, and its colour imperfections sort of reminded me of the Nexus 7's screen.
The stories, though, are the builds. Of the Slate 7 itself and its version of Android.
The Slate 7 does skimp on some specs for its low price. For starters, the 1024 x 600-pixel display has a lower resolution than the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 (both 1280 x 800). On the other hand, HP says its High-aperture-ratio Field Fringe Switching (HFFS) technology gives its panel wide viewing angles, whether you’re viewing documents or playing Angry Birds Space.
Powering this Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet is a 1.6-GHz ARM A9 dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, and you’ll find 8GB of storage on board. The Slate 7 features a VGA camera up front and a fairly low-res 3-MP camera on the back. By comparison, the Nexus 7 boasts a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, though HP claims that its device offers swift performance.