No, it’s not powered by WebOS, but HP thinks its Windows 7-based Slate 500 tablet will be a hit with business and enterprise customers. Like other Windows 7 tablets, the Slate 500 is essentially a netbook without a keyboard, but it’s the most elegant that we’ve seen so far. That’s just hardware though. HP doesn’t bundle any touch-optimized software on this slate, leaving it to business customers to bring their own apps.
For $799, you get a tablet that includes many features the iPad lacks, including two cameras, a USB port, and pen input. HP also throws in a dock with HDMI output and a carrying case. Now that the iPad is making serious inroads in the business world, will the Slate 500 be able to keep up? Get our impressions and watch the hands-on videos below.
As we mentioned, the Slate 500 is elegantly designed. It’s got an all-glass front, a silver-metal edge, and a rubberized back with an interesting triangular pattern. In some ways, it looks like an oversized iPhone 4 more than the iPad. At 1.5 pounds, it’s the same weight as the iPad, but Slate 500’s screen is 8.9 inches,compared to the iPad’s 9.7-inch size. Additionally, the Slate 500’s display has a resolution of 1024 x 600, and a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The Slate 500 runs Windows 7 Professional, and is powered by a 1.86-GHz Intel Atom Z540, 2GB of RAM, and has a 64GB SSD. Graphics are the netbook-standard Intel GMA 500 GPU, but the Slate 500 also has a Broadcom Crystal HD Enhanced video accelerator, which will make watching Flash videos a smoother experience. The device comes with Bluetooth and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi built in.
The front of the Slate 500 features a VGA webcam, and the back has a 3-megapixel cam, which can be used to take stills and video. In fact, HP reps told us they envisioned the device being useful to insurance adjusters for capturing evidence in the field.
The Slate’s squared sides give it room to fit in a USB port, as well as an SDHC slot. Buttons around the sides include one to bring up the on-screen keyboard, a Control-Alt-Delete button, and volume controls. The Slate 500 measures 9.2 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches.
HP bundles a few accessories with the Slate 500, including a dock (which has two USB ports, HDMI and a headphone/mic jack), a stylus, and a leather folio. Sadly, there’s no slot in the device itself for the stylus, though there is a place to stow it in the folio.
Overall, the Slate 500 is reasonably priced for what HP includes, but as most of you already know the Windows 7 touch experience is just not very good, regardless of the target audience. The addition of pen input helps for certain tasks, though. Will this tablet make waves or just become a footnote? HP says it has serious interest from large customers, and we look forward to bringing you our full review to help you make up your mind.
In the meantime, check out our quick video tour of the Slate 500.