Months after it was introduced, HP’s Slate 7 is available in the U.S. for $169.99. That’s not a bad price for a 7-inch Android tablet with a 1.6 GHz dual-core processor, but to keep costs down HP had to cut a corner here and there. And that makes it a difficult choice to choose the Slate 7 over Google’s own Nexus 7, even though the latter costs $30 more.
HP is shipping the Slate 7 with Android 4.1. That’s close to current, but of course Google’s own product ships with the latest version: Android 4.2. It’s also very likely to get software updates faster. Both tablets include 1 GB of memory. HP’s Slate 7 has 8 GB of internal storage capacity with support for an additional 32 GB of micro SD expansion. The Nexus 7 with 16 GB of storage doesn’t have a micro SD card slot.
Both tablets have front-facing video cameras for chatting, but here the Slate 7 one-ups the Nexus: HP added a 3 megapixel camera to the rear of the tablet. HP also included support for Beats Audio sound. There’s not much difference in the size and weight of the two tablets, which is not surprising given that both have 7-inch screens. The Nexus 7 wins out here, however, using a 1280 x 800 display. HP opted for a 1024 x 600 screen, which is the same low resolution on the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab I bought in 2010.
Unless you really need a rear camera or micro SD card slot on your 7-inch tablet — or just have to have Beats Audio support — I’d probably spend the extra $30 on the Nexus 7 if you can swing the money. And if you’re in the market for a small slate right now, I’d even consider waiting a few short weeks. Google’s I/O Developer event takes place in mid-May and it was at last year’s event that Google introduced its Nexus 7. A refresh could be in the works, meaning either more tablet for your dollar or last year’s model at a lower price could be coming.
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It’s certainly good to see HP get into the mobile market with a new tablet, especially since the HP TouchPad was a billion-dollar bust. The company needs to step it up though when it comes to hardware. It’s 2013, not 2010 and people are starting to expect higher-resolution displays in their laptops and their tablets to help improve the experience.