Daily Archives: 04/05/2011

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By Megan Cullor, Access Product Specialist

A few weeks ago, a new acquaintance lent me his HP Slate 500 for the weekend so that I could try it out and review it. Let’s get the specs out of the way: it’s running Windows 7 with an Intel Atom Processor Z540, and has 2GB of RAM. It has a 64GB SSD hard drive, an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500, and a Broadcom Crystal HD Enhanced Video Accelerator. Ports include one USB 2.0 port, a combination stereo headphone/microphone jack, one integrated mic, and one power/dock connector. An SD card slot is included, as well as a 3 megapixel camera on the back of the device, and a VGA webcam on the front. An HP Slate Digital Pen is provided for input, and it has an N-Trig active digitizer, which is great for taking notes, drawing, etc. Wireless connectivity is provided via 802.11 b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth.

Upon first picking up the Slate, I noticed that it was fairly easy to hold, even with my small hands, but the 1.5 pounds does take a toll after holding it for awhile during regular use. The included case doesn’t provide any kind of viewing angle like many iPad cases, so you have to dock it, hold it upright with your hand, or rest it on the table or your lap and look straight down at it. The back of the Slate has a nice, rubberized feel to it, and adds a nice grip due to its pyramid-like backing.

The screen is very bright and colors really pop, although using it in sunlight (we haven’t had any of that lately in KC, so I can’t attest to this personally…) would be very difficult, given its highly reflective screen. The capacitive touchscreen is quite responsive when using the stylus or fingers, and I was surprised at how easy it was to navigate through the OS using the stylus. The on-screen keyboard isn’t quite as responsive, and I noticed myself missing letters fairly often when typing. There’s definitely a learning curve, and I’m sure after a week or so it gets easier.

I was very interested in battery life, given that it’s a fairly powerful tablet running Windows 7, and has such a vivid, responsive touchscreen. I worked on it for a couple of hours straight and the battery dropped 15% or so over that time. Keeping in mind that this tablet doesn’t have MS Office or anything else that is fairly resource-intensive installed on it yet, so my work was mainly testing the typing/handwriting recognition, internet browsing, and video watching. However, when doing those things, it definitely performed well — good overall performance, nice and snappy, and web pages loaded quickly.

The Slate comes with a nice carrying case and a dock. The carrying case has cut-outs for the Slate’s front- and rear-facing cameras, and a secure holder for the stylus. The dock has HDMI output but no VGA out, which is a bit surprising considering the number of older projectors and monitors still occupying offices and conference rooms, which may only have VGA inputs. Also included on the dock are USB ports for peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse. The only dock connector on the Slate is on the bottom horizontal side, so it can only be docked in landscape, not portrait, mode.

Overall, I liked the HP Slate 500 and understand why HP opted to make it an enterprise/business device instead of focusing on the consumer market (look for WebOS to make its entry into the consumer tablet world on HP devices this year). It definitely has a more utilitarian, work-like feel to it, and given more time and practice with the keyboard, I can see how the frequent business traveler might exclusively travel with this, leaving the laptop at home. A clinician could also use it to complete electronic forms and interface them paperlessly into electronic medical records (EMRs) with a mobile e-forms solution such as Access Logical Ink.

Editor’s Note: Check back soon for more of Megan’s gadget reviews.