Wednesday, November 30, 2011

HP Slate 2 is a Win 7 tablet for road warriors, $699 (video)

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Summary: HP’s new tablet trades webOS for Windows 7, and consumers for businesses/professionals — meet the Slate 2 Tablet PC.

HP may not be making any more TouchPads with webOS for consumers, but it certainly isn’t willing to be left out of the tablet party.

With a new Slate 2 Tablet PC running the full version Windows 7 due out later this month, HP believes it has the device that businesses and professionals will need to get things done. Is HP onto something or simply delusional that any tablet can challenge the best-selling iPad 2?

The Slate 2 will look familiar to HP fans as its predecessor, the Slate 500, made quite a splash at CES 2010. If you don’t remember, well that’s because it didn’t really take off post-launch, which is why it’s perplexing for HP to try again with the Slate 2.

Essentially, the Slate 2 has the guts of a netbook but in the form factor of a tablet, complete with a 8.9-inch capacitive multi-touch screen that also works with a stylus (included) as well as a virtual Swype keyboard. The Slate 2’s Intel Atom “Oak Trail” Z670 processor clocks at approximately 1.5 GHz according to NotebookCheck, has a 64GB mSATA drive as well as a SD Card slot for extra storage. Unfortunately, its rear camera is still the same 3-megapixel one as in the Slate 500 but comes with a front-facing one for video conferencing. Most importantly, the Slate 2’s battery is now good for 6 hours of use, and its dock provides two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI connector.

HP has also come up with some business-friendly accessories for the Slate 2:

Bluetooth keyboard and stand integrated into a carrying case so you won’t have to carry multiple accessories when you hit the road (see video).
HP Retail Point of Sale case (pictured below) with integrated slot for swiping credit cards without directing your customer to the cashier line

HP is positioning the Slate 2 as the mobile solution for non-cubicle work environments: as electronic charts for doctors and nurses in hospitals, servers in restaurants to take orders/seat guests and allow them to pay at the tablet, and any other professionals who are tied to the Windows ecosystem who need a full computer in a tablet wherever they work. I’ve only used Windows 7 by touch controls very briefly on an all-in-one so I know it works, but I do wonder how well the Atom chip on the Slate 2 handles Windows 7 because even Win 7 Starter can be laggy on a netbook.

Considering the Slate 2’s rather high price tag of $699.99 — you can get a pretty powerful i5 laptop at this price these days — I’m not sure the tablet’s combination of (software) power and portability is worth the cost. But your line of work may well require something like this and the relative lack competing tablets for professionals (Sean mentions the Dell Latitude ST as the closest competitor to the Slate 2) could bring HP some business after all. What do you think?

[Source: HP's Blog, HP, NotebookCheck, The Verge; Photo: SlashGear; Video: HP's YouTube Channel]


Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

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