HP Slate 500 Thoughts

Posted on 25 October 2010 by

Windows 7 is a great operating system but never really felt at home on low-end mobile hardware platforms in my opinion. The disk, memory and CPU requirements were just above what a netbook could offer and it wasn’t until the dual-core Atom CPUs became available that I was finally convinced that Windows 7 would run smoothly on a netbook. 2GB of RAM is still an advantage though and to squeeze the best out of a low-end platform, a fast SSD is a must-have.  I’m currently testing the Tegatech Tega V2 which doesn’t quite have the dual-core CPU specs but manages to keep up by having 2GB of RAM and a reasonable SSD. It’s just about working smoothly enough to be called a serious device. Taking a look at the HP Slate 500 that was launched last week leaves me with a similar feeling that they’ve specified the device well enough to be able to offer enough performance, memory and storage along with some good battery life potential. At 1.5lbs this is definitely one to look out for in the Tablet PC department

hp-slate-500-dock

Updated: Our HP Slate 500 Information page. Includes comparisons. Forum too!

The 1.8Ghz Z-series Atom CPU should be good enough to give a reasonable Win7 experience and to improve the pinch-to-zoom response, a quick and useful real-world usage test with low-end CPUs. It will also provide video acceleration out of the box although the additional Broadcom video accelerator does highlight that the built in video support in the Intel Menlow processing platform isn’t quite man enough for the job of video decoding! 2GB RAM – Check! 64GB SSD – Check (as long as it’s fast) and at 1.5lbs with an 8.9” 1024×600 screen, it seems optimal for some serious mobile productivity work. Throw in a capacitive screen with active digitiser, a 3.0MP ‘camera’  and an HDMI-capable docking station and you’ve got a tasty tablet that I would have estimated at over $1K. The price: $799.

Based on what we’ve seen with other Menlow-based tablets, the 30Wh battery on this should give it a true 5hr battery life. Again, not bad. (Note: I’ve read claims that a 2-cell battery is less capacity than 3 or even 6-cell batteries – Ignore them. It’s all about Watt-hours, not cells. 30Wh is about half the capacity of a good quality extended netbook battery.)

The only reservation I have is about 3D and 2D graphics performance. It’s not a strong-point of the ‘Poulsbo’ chipset and my first tip would be to turn the Aero UI elements off to improve the UI experience.

Not included and worth thinking about though are a number of features that are common among mobile computing devices:

  • Auto rotation(unconfirmed)
  • GPS
  • 3G Option
  • Optical mouse pointer
  • VGA Out
  • Ethernet port
  • Built-in stand

Having said that, the $799 price seems very good value and we’re looking forward to getting hands on to see if our predictions about performance and battery life are correct. The HP Slate 500 is available for pre-order now and should be with customers in about 3 weeks. (U.S. only)

Extra: Mobile Barbarian, a long-time reader of UMPCPortal has written a blog post on the Slate 500. He’s ordered it and explains why here.

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  • Jeff Jackson

    > â—¦Auto rotation(unconfirmed)
    Several hands-on videos clearly show auto rotation working. And I pray there’s a way to turn it off. I despise it on my phone. Everytime I turn to face someone different my phone goes through rotation h***.

    > â—¦GPS

    I was disappointed at this too. I’m wondering if my phone GPS can serve to it via bluetooth.

    > â—¦3G Option

    I was disappointed at this at first. Then I got to thinking that since this device will be ancillary to my real computer, I’d probably rather stick to a 3G/4G solution that can be shared by multiple devices anyway.

    > â—¦Optical mouse pointer

    Not sure what you mean here. It should support bluetooth and usb mice fine.

    > â—¦VGA Out

    HDMI with the included dock.

    > â—¦Ethernet port

    This is a disappointment. We don’t have WIFI at work. Do they still make USB-Ethernet adaptors?

    > â—¦Built-in stand

    Not built into the device itself, but it comes with a dock that doubles as an easel stand. Looks pretty cool.

    • animatio

      “Do they still make USB-Ethernet adaptors?” – yep
      “mouse pointer” – use either your finger tip or much better a stylus
      “vga out” – pitty if really missing but there are usb solutions as well
      “built in stand” – never fit’s the appropriate angle needed, better buy a foldable sleeve, there are some with built in keyboards on the market

  • aftermath

    I think that people overly criticize the Z-series platform. The performance isn’t great, but it isn’t unreasonable, especially when one considers the fact that all of the Intel Atom processors suffer from a very simple design that performs quite poorly on the type of integer code that the Windows 7 world is built on (something that Intel will have to address eventually). In fact, the 2D and 3D performance of the GPU is OK too, but the real problem with the platform is the driver support. It’s totally poisoned by no documentation, IP restrictions, licensing issues, and a Balkanized collection of incomplete drivers. I will give away any Z-Series device given to me. It’s not worth building my life around, and nothing I do with computers is disposable enough that it “just doesn’t matter”.

    The worst feature of this device is the battery which can’t be replaced by the user. I get it: embedded batteries lead to thinner devices. I GET IT. However, a thin device IS NOT a good user experience if you can’t replace the battery yourself. It’s not like we’re buying a Ferrari FXX or something. Let me replace the battery. Let me by a battery from whoever I want. Let me decide that I want a heavier device with a big hump in the back so that I can triple my rundown time. I know most computer users are now morons, but we can at least be trusted this far.

    All said, this is a great pure slate tablet for businesses. It’s CHEAP. It offers dual-mode digitizers, and it’s profiled for TRUE handheld use. The active digitizer is going to be the difference maker in the business climate, and the familiar, finger touch is going to make it easier for Joe Stupid to get acclimated. This is the kind of device that’s very much within the modern Microsoft/Intel paradigm: making money by helping business make money.

    • KF@CN

      Definitely the N455 offers much more performance, but need some more power.
      Like a Ferrari needing a gasoline station very frequently. Whereas a Volkswagen doesn’t so often.
      Actually i think that battery life is just “cheated” up by using a low power CPU.
      The connectivity isn’t so good as the TEGA V2 and others(for the network adapters USB to RJ45 are cheap ~ 1EUR in China street price). So there is no reason to make instead of 14mm slate a 20mm board unless use that space by more battery (or an exchangeable battery).
      In such size a N475 or even a N550 (different main board design) could be a racer neglecting battery time.
      Looking Chinese prices it is expensive.
      Also not clear if or which Windows 7 is included.

  • Lucien

    Similar specs to the S10-3t which handles multi-touch well with Windows 7.
    720p video playback is fine as well but not through flash. 1.8GHz is probably not enough for that unless we finally see flash have real full HW support. Potentially issue also for this device but you can always workaround by downloading video first.

    • The Broadcom HD module will solve that I believe.

  • Lucien

    Engadget hands-on:

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/10/21/hp-slate-finally-finally-official-rings-up-at-799?icid=sphere_blogsmith_inpage_engadget

    I also think it’s weird there’s no VGA out (but GPS I don’t think is that common for netbooks/slates). You can workaround that with USB devices I guess.

  • Dave P

    Optical mouse pointers puzzle me. You would think that any designer who has worked with a Windows desktop would include one or include another pointing device such as a ThinkPad-like track stick or Blackberry-like track ball. A built in way to move the cursor would make these tablets (especially those without an active digitizer) much more usable.

  • FireDragon

    I sort of jump with joy to hear the digitizer on-board and 2gb ram. I actually heard from different places that it is by Wacom? But officially I can’t find confirmation of this.

    And I too think stand should be there and a mousepointer too with Lan/Ethernet slot (and a couple of more things). The rest I am very happy with. I would never complain for its battery because of its size. Yes every company should do something about research in better batteries.

    In excitment, I too write a something about this tablet which is at
    http://www.inconsol.net/site/post.asp?id=1463 if any of you would like to read on my take.

    • Guy

      Its actually a N-Trig digitizer according to GottaBeMobile.com.

  • HP Slate 500 Thoughts http://bit.ly/bUbPCG

  • Why do people keep using Pinch To Zoom as a measure of a system’s capabilities? Desktop browsers DO NOT display the same way mobile browsers do, they reflow text on zoom instead of mearly zooming in on an image.

    I try to explain it a little here.
    http://www.marauderzstuff.com/PermaLink,guid,01e53220-a0e6-4464-9e6e-fd7289550d83.aspx

    I too am among the people who HATE auto rotation, glad I’m not the only one! :P

    Is the lack of a kickstand that important? Those things take up a lot of space on the device.

    Video out might be a lost to some ppl who need to frequently do presentations.

    As for the 3G option, as an owner of a Pocket MiFi device, I welcome the savings of a WiFi only gadget. Do you really want multiple cellular data plans?

    • C Pham

      On Android, text is reflowed to fit the screen whenever the user zooms in and out. On both iOS and Android, zooming in re-renders texts and elements instead of just zooming in on an image. This is evident because texts are reflowed to look really sharp. I don’t think you have seen an iPad or Android phone zooms in person?

      Chippy has had his time to play around with the Samsung Galaxy Tab so I think he can tell you how sharp texts look as you zoom in on the Galaxy Tab.

      I think this is a very valid point to complain about on PC.

      • Yes I do use an iPod touch, and I have used an Android browser as well.

        Reflowing text means that the browser recalculates the flow of text based on available screen dimensions. ie. Original text size is 12pt at 1024px width, after zoom of 150% is 18pt at 1024px width, so the browser reflows the text to make the newly enlarged text fit in the same space.

        The sharp text effect you see on iOS devices when you zoom in, is not being reflowed. The container size of the text never changes. So to the web page display engine, the font size and display size is always fixed. But the user is zooming in to look at it more closely. it doesn’t have to recalculate the area that text need to occupy

        I have not seen any site on my iPod touch 4G, where zooming in on the page cause text to be reflowed. Perharps you can give me a URL and I can tell you what the site does.

        • C Pham

          You do realize the Android browser has that kind of reflow that you are trying to talk about, right…? It reflows the text to properly fit into the screen regardless of zoom level. And it can still do it really smooth.

          On the iPod Touch, perhaps the most evident place where you can notice texts being reflowed is when you try to zoom in on large texts, the characters would shift a bit when the engine is re-rendering them. Apple actually reflows not just the texts but the cntainers and even each individual characters as well to make your zooming and scrolling experience as smooth as can be. If you really can’t differentiate between it and a still picture, then they really have accomplished the task quite nicely. The problem is that the iPod Touch, say… your 4th generation iPod Touch, has only 256MB of RAM, for both system and video RAM. No matter how you cut it, that is simply not enough to pre-render and fit a high-resolution rendition of any website. Sites like Engadget will easily make that 256MB of RAM suffer since just the horizontal dimension would exceed 4096 pixels. Not to mention the iPod Touch has to handle multitasking and even tabbed browsing. If the device had 1GB of RAM, your theory might have worked, but it’s not that simple. Case in point, zoom in to this page (zoom all the way to 400%), scroll to the bottom, then tap the top part of the screen (close to the status bar) to scroll to the top, and you’ll notice checkerboard patterns in place. Those are placeholders for parts of the website that haven’t been re-rendered yet, or were not re-rendered due to memory issues.

  • dean

    no VGA out? that is incredibly shortsighted. but something that goes more unoticed is the fact that many business programs require a 1024×768 resolution in order to install. most of these netbooks use 1024 x 600. although great for almost everything, i see their focus is to be business, so why not have a 1024 x 768. in my case as of december 1rst an older program is being retired and only the newer one will be allowed to access our work.

    • ChrisRS

      1024 x 768 is an absolute minimum. I am very disappointed.

  • morganj

    Just heard from my hardware supplier that the Slate is not expected in the Nordic countries until Q1/Q2 2011.

    I think HP have missed the boat on this one, by the time it gets into consumers hands it will be old hat.

    I’m pretty dissapointed in this release date.

  • morganj

    A slighty off topic item but somehow very amusing to see so called professional writers trying to compare the Slate to the new MacBook Air.

    http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/208650/hp_slate_500_vs_macbook_air_which_is_better_for_business.html?tk=nl_bpx_h_cbstories

    Can anyone tell me how the 2 can even be compaired?????

  • Elmstrom

    Finally the HP 500 on umpcportal! i been wondering why it was not talked about here. For me this is close to the perfeckt UMPC (miss replaceable batteries).

    If any misss it, 7 days ago Gottabemobile had a hands on with it.
    http://www.gottabemobile.com/2010/10/21/gbm-inkshow-a-detailed-look-at-the-hp-slate-500/

    Also, all points to it is a N-trig digitizer.

    morganj >> Let’s hope someone like dynamism.com picks it up, would be a pain to wait half a year on EU sellers.

  • Guy

    For me two words….

    ACTIVE DIGITIZER!!

    Praise the lord (and HP for that matter) in finally squeezing one into a device sub $1000. I can write and touch which makes me happy!

    As for the rest of the issues, they all have workaround solutions.

  • okl

    No 3G / No 3G optional ??

  • Digital Doctor

    It looks like the Active digitizer is spoiled by Poor Palm Rejection.
    Major problem.
    Couldn’t even get 1024 x 768 ?
    Lame.

    This isn’t going to replace a real Tablet (TabletPC) anytime soon.
    This is a bad tweener device.

    It need a pen, but has poor palm rejection ?

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