HP's Slate specs slated by bloggers

4.jpeg HP's Slate is official, with an $800 price tag, iffy specs (at least for something running Windows 7) and an N-Trig touchscreen-'n'-pen display. That'll make it interesting for digital artists, but for everyone else, it's just a pretty keyboardless netbook. Its most interesting characteristic is a bizarre slide-out tray that exists only to display the Windows 7 licensing information. It's like something from some kind of screwball comedy about awful product design: HP was apparently obliged to do this because it didn't want to mess up the exterior with this compulsory information panel. When explaining to people why iOS and Linux (i.e. Android and WebOS) are the only credible options in the near future for consumer tablets, I used to have to explain to people exactly why non-touchscreen desktop operating systems like Windows 7 make them suck. Now, however, I just have to point out that Microsoft's lawyers get to impose design decisions on their hardware partners. HP Slate Official: $800 Business Netbook without Keyboard [Wired Gadget Lab]



  1. Hahaha..they found a way to include the windows license, but forgot to put a place for the stylus. Classic.

  2. I don’t understand why people are complaining about the $799 price while simultaniously holding up the iPad as a shining example of how HP should’ve priced the Slate. The slate has 64GB of storage, USB ports, SD card slot, and comes with a case and a dock that has video out. If you bought a 64GB iPad Wifi ($699), an iPad Dock ($29), an iPad Case ($39), an iPad Camera Connection Kit ($29), and iPad VGA Adapter ($29), you’d have spent $825 ($26 more) and still not have a full desktop OS, front and rear cameras, a Wacom digitizer, or unlocked hardware that you actually own.

    1. Specs are secondary to user experience. The whole point of the tablet revival we are seeing is because desktop operating systems are not fit for the tablet form factor. You can’t bolt a desktop OS to a tablet and then sprinkle a few touch thingies and think you will do better than last time.

    2. Well, if that’s your view then you’ve completely misunderstood why Apple have sold a bazillion iOS devices over the last few years. When was the last time you heard Steve Jobs talk about specs on a handheld device (besides form factor)? The vast majority of consumers don’t understand or care about such things. They want something tactile that works – not something with a CTRL-ALT-DEL button. If you don’t like that, well have fun with your stylus.

      But yeah, the slide-out tab is silly but its also hidden from view, so don’t see the big deal there.

    1. Because specs don’t make a product?

      Also: iOS is MADE to work with that hardware, it runs like a dream because its bespoke.

      Win 7 is made to work well with nothing, but capable with everything; therefore the experience wil probably be poop on this device.

      And to Zan, why would you want a ‘full desktop OS’ on a tablet? Wouldn’t you rather have a tablet OS on a tablet?

      In the same way as I don;t want a full desktop OS on my GPS, or fridge.

  3. Is there a photo of that slide-out Windows license tray? Can’t find it. Sounds absolutely hilarious. It could be used to store a picture of Steve Ballmer sticking out his tongue at the unfortunate owner of the Slate: http://goo.gl/5ZIj

  4. It’s not like either of these devices is going to be used for serious number crunching or something, so interface responsiveness is the key measure of performance. The iPad is very good at this; it often seems more responsive than actual non-netbook laptops with 8x as much processing power. Despite having bigger numbers on its spec sheet, the Rio is almost certain to lose on this metric, as a consequence of running a desktop OS.

    People need to get over this notion of comparing computing devices purely on the basis of tech specs and feature checklists. It’s the same thinking that lead some analysts to predict failure for the iPhone, on the basis that other phones already had web browsers, etc. It has essentially no relationship to the factors that matter to actual consumers in real-world use cases.

  5. I just don’t really see what the big deal is with the license slide-out. Granted, it’s kind of odd that they put it in a drawer instead of on the back, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of making your product ‘look nice’ I can see not wanting a big info-dump sticker plastered all over it. As a business device, some IT grunt with a barcode scanner is going to be going after that sticker (that IT grunt used to be me while I was in college), so the sticker itself is pretty much required.

    Also, this is not an iPad. It’s a Windows 7 tablet PC, taking after previous Windows tablet PCs before it, presumably aimed at the same exact markets (i.e not mainstream consumers, but companies that require tablets that run Windows for whatever reason.)

  6. Tablets are designed for simply, quick, and easy operations. Windows 7 is just too much for a tablet. Sure you get a tablet that can do absolutely anything but it will also be harder to use and slower. Sooner of later somebody will build a good tablet that’s both quick and easy to use with good hardware and open enough that you can run whatever you want however you want, but until then … we just have to wait.

  7. The slide out tray is not all that strange. I own some higher end Dell monitors that have the same thing with the S/N and revision numbers, and I actually like it.

    The Wired post is so rancid that I might cancel my subscription, and this one is not much better. As #3 pointed out, the price argument is disingenuous at best and the OS argument is absurd.

  8. Pretty keyboard-less netbook sounds better to me that what the iPad is. I still am not going to buy either, but at least the HP model has the functionality of a computer. In all my dealings with touch screens I feel there is no superior software at this point. iOS only really works in a limited scope and not for anything my company could do, and Linux works about as a well as windows.

    On top of that, the “review” was hands off and just dripping with Apple butter: “HP has tried to justify the ridiculous price with a disclaimer in its press release, which says it is ‘designed specifically for business.’ The problem is, businesses are already buying the iPad, which is designed just to be good.” That is one of the worst sentences in a review I have ever read. The only thing wrong with it is the lack of stylus storage and the stupid license tray – which are ridiculous and obvious flaws with the system.

  9. Lets not forget that Google have a big documents of must’s and may’s that any product needs to be checked against before it can have android market pre-installed. These includes such things as camera, gps, compass and accelerometer, various screen sizes, and at one point required certain physical buttons to be present.

  10. In previous demos, HP had shown a new custom UI that went on top of Windows 7. However, with them now developing an WebOS version of the Slate, it seems like they stopped working on their slick UI and just dumped their Windows 7 out there for whatever sales they can get to make up some of their R&D costs. However, they don’t seem to be targeting consumers or making much of a push for it anymore. I expect the WebOS version to be a lot better (and hopefully a bit cheaper).

  11. This is not comparable to the iPad. You need a computer to use the iPad but the Slate IS a computer. It is a bit expensive for a netbook but unlike the iPad you get a PC not a PMP.

  12. Putting that info on a slide-out panel seems like a great idea. My laptop had the same information on a label on the bottom once upon a time, but it’s worn so badly that most of it is completely unreadable.

  13. I very rarely connect my iPad to a computer. It does all the things I want it to do on it’s own just fine. For those things, which are the things mist people want out of a tablet, this HP is going to be a turd. But for the computery things, it’s just going to be another Umpc-like weakling.

    Ballmer pitched this early and hard as a iPad response. That’s why it’s seen in those terms, and that’s why it’s being seen as a bloated waste of effort rather than as the ultraniche field PC it really is. Sure, I could have called it a MID-killer or whatever. But I don’t write for salesforce monthly.

    1. You may rarely connect it to a computer but the iPad nevertheless remains a PMP. The Slate is a keyboardless netbook and as such it could easily compete with the eeepcs and the aspire ones.

      Yet hipsters will just label it an iPad ripoff and a failure just because it runs win7 and this supposedly is a bad thing because the touch experience is not optimal. Well i for one would consider replacing my netbook with a Slate or similar. I would use it as a tablet for light browsing and ebook reading and as a netbook with an external keyboard, best of both worlds really. It is as always the price that will make it fail. 800$ is just too much for a luxury netbook. Price it at 500 and see how many they would sell.

      Ballmer and Jobs may say what they like they are salesmen, who cares.

  14. I use a Eee PC Netvertible T101MT in the tablet mode 98% of the time. So far the Windows 7 experience on a tablet is really not as bad as some people keep screaming. It is a full fledged OS for a tablet, and it has varying pressure sensitivity all for under 500 bucks. Works pretty damned well in Photoshop for being the little monster it is. Granted I sprung for an extra gig of ram for $30 bucks. True there is about a 0.45 second delay when using the touch screen, but it is so close to the 0.3 second “Instant” feeling that it never really hinders use. Applications generally open in under 3 seconds, even while running several background apps. My main issue is the screen, but that is just the resistive touch overlay that kinda shows through as a slight graininess that really only noticeable when you look for it. I was running Ubuntu, which is great to squeeze performance out of a machine, but it was less than useful for a touch screen computer….

  15. “You need a computer to use the iPad”

    I think you made a typo, you need a computer to used the ipOd. Either that or you don’t actually own an iPad.

    1. How exactly do you put music, videos etc in it? How do you print stuff? It is chained to itunes pretty much as the ipod. Indeed i own an ipod and i do not need a pc to use it either, as long as i buy everything on line or stream it.

  16. $500 would be a great price for this. But the hardware is too fancy for that. The thing here to remember is that powerful tablet pcs are an incredibly tiny niche, and the fact this Is getting attention at all is because it’s been so grossly mis-pitched as an iPad rival.

    1. I think that by dropping the wacom capability, the SSD and the extras like the dock etc they could price it more aggressively. But as everyone said this is a half hearted effort, they probably are putting their money on Web OS. Which is a pity actually.

      1. I think you’re missing the point. I’ve been *desperately* waiting for a new tablet to come out with Wacom capability. I can’t even *consider* buying an iPad because it has almost *zero* serious productivity value.

        I use my tablet for taking notes, and I’m talking hundreds upon hundreds of pages of handwritten formulae. I wouldn’t trade the form factor out for anything. The problem is that everyone is holding up the iPad as the holy grail and there is an untapped market of people who really would prefer to use their machines to *do* something.

        I work as IT for a major U.S. university and our faculty are buying plenty of iPads, but after awhile the question quickly becomes: “Now what do I do with it?”. They’re fun to play with, but I haven’t seen anyone efficiently use it for much of anything.

        1. hardwarejunkie9:

          For you it may hold zero productivity, but I suspect you’re neither an artist nor a writer. I’ve seen really impressive digital art done in iPads, and I’ve personally used the third-party Notebooks app to write something on the order of a quarter million words. On the glass screen. With the virtual keyboard.

          That you might find the iPad useless for your specialized professional niche does not in any way suggest that is is a generally worthless product.

          As for the Slate – I was also expecting HP to wait and release one with WebOS on it.

          1. I dare say that you are the niche not people who prefer keyboards to the glass screen. In fact if i am not wrong the first ipad accessory was an external keyboard. You may be an artist or a writer (as if a gadget makes you such) but you are definitely a masochist.

  17. I don’t know why people who appreciate Apple products always get labeled as ‘snobs’ and ‘hipsters’. Apple understands that some people are willing to pay for quality, durability and primarily a well designed user interface. This is why it’s so funny to see a product like the Slate that proves just how clueless HP and Microsoft are, they seem to be designed backwards, with the user interface a distant afterthough.

  18. there’s a whole lot of apps that I’d like to be able to take with me in a small package like this that exist only in Windows and will only exist in Windows.

    Ipad and Android are non-starters if they can’t run the apps I really want.

  19. Actually, a Linux version could be quite nice.
    I have a surplus Fujitsu Stylistic ST5032D that runs Ubuntu 9.10 very nicely. It has a spectacular 12.1″ daylight readable display and a Wacom Stylus interface and the corresponding dock. Total cost <$200. First off, it’s not an iPad. It does serve as the best PDF/CBZ viewer I have, and an excellent video player, but it really has a very different feel. The use of a pressure sensitive stylus makes it the equivalent of a Cintiq at a tenth of the cost. It’s also very well suited for content creation, plug in a keyboard and you have a perfectly good laptop. One of the worst things about Apple entering a market with an iProduct is that it suddenly drains differentiation and innovation from the field. Right now every tablet has to be an “iPad killer” solely measured on how well it hews to that design. In reality I own half a dozen Linux/Android tablets ranging from 5″ to 7″ to 12″ (at a combined cost below a top end iPad). Each one fits in a different role and has different strengths and weaknesses. Monoculture sucks, it’s time to think differently!

  20. I’m seriously confused about the slide-out license. I’ve never once seen a computer with the license printed on the case. Is this a new requirement?

  21. HP will sell a lot of these to the business market. The company I work for leases (crappy) gear from HP and will continue to do so. I won’t be surprised to see these things showing up at work.

  22. I never mentioned SPECS, I mentioned features. Listen to any Steve presentation, and he’ll mention plenty of features like cameras, storage space, sensors, screen resolution, etc. In fact, all the accessories I mentioned in my post were talked about in the iPad keynote.

    Also, you may have missed it, but the Slate has both a capacitive touch screen AND a wacom digitizer, so you don’t need to use the stylus, but you have the option.

    In any case, my point was NOT that this is an iPad killer — this is a different device for a different niche — but that the price is not at all out of line with the equivalent iPad.

  23. You can download stuff directly to the 3G iPad without so much as a router. No computer is needed to get music, apps or anything else onto it.

    1. I am aware of the appstore and itunes but i really buy my content differently and also i do have already a vast collection of stuff. Are you suggesting that i re-buy all of my cd collection over 3G? I mean i understand the occasional track but i do have almost 1k cds that i ripped personally, and some 300dvds (not to mention torrents). 3g is a joke for data transfer, and wifi is not that great either. The ipad is useless without a PC unless you are a billionaire and even if you are willing to pay for it good luck transfering 32-64gbs of stuff over 3g.

  24. The fact that people are showing up here to defend the license tab, or who fail to see why it’s such an off-putting instance of design failure, is as good an example as I’ve ever seen of how the two sides in these Apple vs. Whoever battles are talking past each other.

    1. Yes, the slate license tab a bad design, but in my opinion it’s not as bad as the design choice to make a the back of a handheld device out of shiny chrome or glass.

      Which design decision has the greater chance of causing a functional/aesthetic failure of the device?

  25. piminnowcheez:

    I don’t think that anyone has shown up here to specifically defend the license tab. It’s just that, you know, it’s really not that big a deal. I mean, it would be nice if it was a compromise that didn’t have to be made, but given that the info had to go somewhere, HP have done a nice job of making it at least unobtrusive.

    I can’t help but think that anyone deriding the license tab is just looking for something to justify their not liking this device that they haven’t tried and have no logical reason to dismiss…


    What do you do if you want to get a document, or some music or video files from another computer onto your iPad? Fair enough if you don’t have another computer (do you?), but most of my files live on my Windows desktop and are transferred elsewhere as needed (by wifi).

    1. Really, you just reinforced my point, which was not that this HP tablet sucks, but that when Apple people and non Apple people get into these kinds of arguments, they’re mostly non-overlapping tribes of users bringing mostly non-overlapping sets of values to their judgments.

      For those who are sympathetic to the Apple ethos and attracted to its products, it doesn’t even need to be explained why the license tab is offensive. For those, like you, who don’t see what the big deal is, well, Rob got a pretty good start on that explanation in the OP: “Microsoft’s lawyers get to impose design decisions on their hardware partners.”

      The tab is a conspicuous feature of this product that solves a problem for HP, not for the customer. I want my tools to be well-designed objects whose features solve problems for me. And I would disagree that this is an unobtrusive solution to HP’s problem. We are monkeys with curious, searching fingers; every button is an invitation to be pressed, every tab is an invitation to be pulled. And in this case, pulling will always bring disappointment, because every time its surprise is revealed… it’s a surprise put there for someone else. Not for me.

      It’s also an additional moving part: one more thing to break, one more crevice to collect dust and grunge. In either case, it will make this expensive, designed object I paid for that tiny bit uglier, and I’ll look at it every time I use it knowing that it’s uglier because of something HP put there for themselves. Not for me.

      1. And really, you just reinforced my point that you just want to find something, anything wrong with this tablet. That you haven’t used, or even seen in the flesh.

        I wonder if you take such a critical view the farce that is transferring files to the iPad? Or the fact that it’s only just had an update that gives it (very limited) printing capabilities? Or the fact that it looks like a Fisher Price iPod touch?

        And now you’ve got me seeming to attack the iPad. Which was never my intention.

  26. I’m curious about the price comparisons being made with the iPad.
    The price of the Slate is listed as $800, and the specs say the internal drive is “up to 64GB”. Usually for things like this the listed price is for the cheapest version, but I can’t find that detail on the HP page.

    So is the $800 comparable to the top of the line iPad or the entry level $500 iPad?

  27. “Microsoft’s lawyers get to impose design decisions on their hardware partners.”


    “Steve Jobs gets to impose usage decisions on their users.”


  28. Unfortunately, this tablet seems to be N-Trig, not Wacom.

    For academic use (hardly a niche market!) good tablet functionality is not just a minor feature. N-Trig is better than trying to use a stylus on a pure touch screen, but it is not (yet) as good as Wacom.

  29. My opinion on the slide-out thingy is sufficiently expressed by asking: “What do users need it for?”

    One poster here seems to think that he regularly needs to refer to the licence information. Unless he’s joking.

    Maybe his software asks him to prove licence ownership on login by typing in the serial number; for all I know Windows does that now.

  30. The problem most people have is that they don’t like change. Apple likes to change people’s perceptions in what we need. People who criticise the iPad misunderstand it’s target audience which is the majority of people who do not care about technical specifications but just want a simple device to do the things they normally do on a PC. This being emails, browsing the web, enjoying music and videos, and playing the odd game. How many mothers do you know who want their device to do more?

    Now, I’d bet that the people who complain about the iPad’s lack of “functionality” are the type of people who do not understand the idea that simplicity is the basis of good design. Apple have trimmed away the excess fat of a lumbering OS and created a slimline device which is quick, useful and has a long battery life. It’s the kind of leftfield thinking that has proven the competition wrong again and again. The fact that the iPad and it’s earlier cousin, the iPhone, looks so simple is testatmount to how well it has been thought out.

    Anyway, don’t take my word for it. The millions of sales Apple are enjoying surely can’t be dismissed as all shallow image conscious people. That’s the sort of conclusion Microsoft and their ilk have been saying. Where has that got them? Copying is what they are doing which seems to destroy their argument that the iPad is a silly toy.

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