HP tables a tablet

The iPad has had a free pass for pretty much its first year of existence. Contenders running an Android or Windows-based operating system have seemed to be stuck in the gate, but now the first are starting to hit the market.

After quite a long wait, HP Slate 500 is finally on store shelves, at least in the States. No word on Canadian availability yet.

For months, the tech world has been buzzing with rumors about Hewlett-Packard’s worst kept secret. The HP Slate 500 is set to retail for a whopping US$699 for the Windows Home version and US$799 for Windows 7 Professional. The question now is why would you choose this over the $499 iPad?

The simple answer is: You wouldn’t. They are not anything close to being competitors. In truth, the inevitable iPad comparison is unfair to both devices. The iPad is designed as a personal device, entertainment and personal use focused. The Slate is a business tool, with nowhere near the entertainment integration that the iPad boasts.

There are similarities and points of comparison that are valid, as there needs to be when we are talking about tablets. For example, both tablets boast almost identical screen resolutions; however the Slate’ 8.9-inch display is about an inch smaller than iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. It does suffer in the battery comparison as the Slate packs only half of iPad’s battery life and is just as heavy as the Apple tablet. Please note however that the iPad has, in my opinion, stunning battery life!

Where we lose the ability to compare the iPad and Slate is when we look at the expansion and connectivity of the devices. The iPad, as is so often the case in  the “World according to Jobs” is a closed book, with limited expansion and peripherals.


The Slate, on the other hand, is all about expansion. It is a Windows machine to the heart. The HP Slate comes with a WiFi and Bluetooth. The missing 3G ship and GPS is overshadowed by the addition of a USB port and dual cameras (a VGA camera for video calling and a 3-Megapixel at the back) which is more than what iPad offers. With a USB port most any functionality not built in can be quickly augmented. HP also included storage expansion SD card slots, very useful for a working tablet and something I wish, oh how I wish the iPad had. The HP tablet also comes with a user friendly Ctrl+Alt+Del button, something that is yet to be seen on other tablets, and reminds us that rebooting may be a necessity! Yes, I expect re-booting will be an occasional fact of life; after all it is still Windows!

As far as user experience goes, you can’t expect, nor will you get the terrific natural user interface that is Apple’s hallmark. But you will be able to customize the Slate to your business task, and I fully expect to see it becoming an integral tool in industry. As a mobile data device, for example, like what courier companies are using, or in maintenance, or other field applications where having access to manuals and other data is a time saver, the Slate should find a home.

It won’t be the revolutionary device that captures our imagination — that is Apple’s stock in trade. HP is all about practical tools that you use, and that is where we will find the Slate.

While the comparisons are inevitable, you simply can’t judge the Slate by measuring it against the iPad. It may look the same on the surface, but down deep inside they are two entirely different animals.

Steve DobbsSteve Dotto is Canada’s most respected geek. For over 15 years, as host and executive producer of Dotto Tech, a nationally syndicated TV show, Steve has entertained and educated millions of Canadians on all aspects of technology. Steve has a passion for understanding the social impact of technology. His DVD Cybersafe with Steve Dotto , teaches parents and caregivers about the opportunities, dangers and challenges of social networking.