Hewlett-Packard has a new tablet computer that I think is a bargain. The HP 7 Plus retails for only $119, but HP has been selling them at an “introductory price” of $99. This low-priced tablet has most all the features of tablet computers that cost much more. The $99 price even includes free shipping. I purchased a 7 Plus a few days ago and now am impressed with this tablet computer. It runs all the available Android tablet applications, including genealogy programs. It also is an excellent ebook reader, capable of storing hundreds of ebooks, including Kindle books, ePub books, PDF ebooks, and more. It stores and displays thousands of digital photographs and MP3 music files, and it can even store and play several full-length Hollywood movies when riding on airplanes or on the commuter train. Not bad for $99!
HP also sells a similar HP 7 Slate Plus that has even higher specifications. However, it costs $149—still a bargain price, in my opinion. For this article I will focus on the lower-priced 7 Plus.
Actually, becoming familiar with the HP 7 Plus requires less than a minute for anyone who is already familiar with the Android operating system. The HP 7 Plus runs Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), the same operating system used on dozens of other Android tablets and cell phones. I already own a Motorola cell phone that uses the Android 4.4.2 operating system, and I found the operation of the HP 7 Plus tablet is identical to that of my phone. If you are not yet familiar with Android, I suspect you can become very comfortable with the operating system within a few minutes.
The HP 7 Plus has excellent specifications although it doesn’t match the higher-end Android tablets or Apple iPad tablets. For instance, it won’t match the specifications of the Nexus 7. Then again, it doesn’t have the Nexus 7’s price tag of of $229. For less than half the price of a Nexus 7, you get about 95% of the capability of the much more expensive tablet computer. I am not aware of any $100 tablet from a reputable manufacturer that can match the HP 7 Plus. I have seen Android tablets from little-known Oriental companies that can match the price, but they won’t match Hewlett-Packard’s reputation nor the one-year warranty plus free 90 days of Complimentary Limited Technical Support by phone that Hewlett-Packard includes. That level of support is unusual in any electronic device that sells for $100 or less.
The HP 7 Plus features a quad-core NVIDIA ARM Cortex™-A7 processor that delivers snappy performance. With four cores in the processor, it is more than capable of running any Android app available today.
The tiny HP tablet includes a 7-inch screen that displays 1024 by 600 pixels. That’s a good resolution although the more expensive tablets will feature higher resolution displays. I have no problem reading Kindle or other ebooks at 1024 by 600 resolution although I admit the default fonts are a bit small. It works for me because I have 20/20 vision if I am wearing my glasses. I am sure anyone else with 20/20 vision will find the HP 7 Plus to be easily readable. However, anyone with vision problems might find the 7-inch, 1024 by 600 pixel screen to be a bit small. The fonts can quickly be enlarged to make the text easily readable by almost anyone, but then fewer words will be displayed on the screen at one time. Optometrists and ophthalmologists often recommend tablet computers and ebook readers for anyone with vision problems, but I suspect they won’t recommend a device with a 7-inch screen. If you have vision problems, I would suggest you look for an 11-inch screen or larger, such as the iPad with the Retina screen. The iPad Retina is actually easier to read than is any printed book.
The HP 7 Plus features 8 gigabytes of internal storage, which is a bit less than its expensive competitors. However, that storage space is easily expandable at modest prices. I have only had the HP tablet for a few days and have installed a few apps. So far, I still have a lot of storage space left. However, if I do ever fill it up, I can purchase a microSD memory card to add more storage space. You can pick up a 32-gigabyte microSD memory card for less than $20 at most any computer or electronics store. The microSD card slides into a small slot on the top of the HP tablet with nothing protruding. You can leave the microSD card installed all the time. However, should you ever fill the expansion card, you can purchase additional microSD cards and swap them out as needed. I plan on adding a 32-gigabyte card someday, once I fill up the HP 7 Plus’ internal storage.
Of course, the HP 7 Plus user is not limited to the space provided by microSD cards. HP includes a free Box account that includes 25 gigabytes of cloud storage. More storage space is available for a modest fee. Dropbox, Google Drive, iDrive, OneDrive, and other cloud storage apps also can be added. If desired, the Android tablet can literally have terabytes of storage space available in the cloud. I did find it interesting that Hewlett-Packard did not include storage space on the company’s own Helion cloud storage service.
The HP 7 Plus includes two cameras and a built-in microphone. Each camera is capable of taking still pictures or video. One is a lower-resolution 0.3 megapixel camera mounted on the front of the device, great for two-way video conferencing. The second camera is a 2-megapixel device, capable of taking higher resolution pictures and videos. You should be aware, however, that you can find higher resolution cameras on several of the more expensive Android tablets. The built-in microphone is used for two-way conferencing and also can record audio sound clips at any time.
The tablet also includes 802.11b/g/n wi-fi networking, capable of very high speeds if connected to a matching 802.11b/g/n wi-fi router. The 2800 mAh Lithium polymer battery should power the 7 Plus tablet for up to five and a half hours, according to Hewlett-Packard’s specifications at http://goo.gl/2x7eNa. Admittedly, I haven’t tested the battery life yet.
The audio is “tinny” sounding when played through the tablet’s internal speakers. Actually, all small tablet computers suffer from the same audio restrictions. You can only get so much sound from a tiny speaker. However, plugging in a headset or “ear buds” quickly provides near-high-fidelity audio, the same as any iPod, Nexus, or other handheld music player.
The 7.58 x 4.8 x 0.32 inch HP 7 Plus tablet weighs about two-thirds of a pound. It is too big to slide into a shirt pocket but easily fits in a coat pocket. At 0.65 pounds, it won’t add much weight to your purse, backpack, or briefcase.
Applications included on the HP 7 Plus include Google Search, Google Voice Search, Gmail, Google Sync, Google Talk, Chrome Browser, Google+, Google Maps, Google Street View, YouTube, Google Play Store, Google Play Books, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Magazines, Kingsoft Office, HP ePrint, HP Connected Photo powered by Snapfish, Skype, Box (25 gigabytes of cloud storage), and HP File Manager. Of course, there are thousands of additional apps available for download from the Google Play Store, including several genealogy apps.
I find it interesting that the owner of an HP 7 Plus can even make telephone calls, even though this is not a cell phone. To place phone calls, you do need to be connected to a wi-fi network of at least medium performance. Google Talk is pre-installed on the device. It is an instant messaging service that provides both text and voice communication. In addition, Skype is also pre-installed. Dozens of other VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone apps also can be downloaded from the Google Play store. Any of them will provide free or low-cost calls to telephones and computers worldwide.
I find that VoIP apps work well when connected to my wi-fi router at home but not always when connected to heavily loaded wi-fi networks in stores, coffee shops, airports, and elsewhere. If the wi-fi network is being used by multiple users online simultaneously, the speed slows down. Even worse, there may be pauses in the connection. When using most computer apps, a pause in the network connection can be irritating. However, the same pause is disastrous when using a telephone connection! I don’t encounter pauses at home but often do when using publicly-available networks. When traveling, I have had some excellent telephone connections, and some others that were not so good. Of course, this problem is not limited to the HP 7 Plus; similar problems exist when using any VoIP telephone connection over a public wi-fi network using any computer.
Kingsoft Office is also pre-installed. This handheld competitor to Microsoft Office allows for creating or editing existing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. It works well.
Hewlett-Packard also offers a number of options, including a carrying case that protects the screen and a capacitive stylus. I purchased both. The carrying case strikes me as a good idea as it helps protect the device from damage. However, if I ever purchase another HP 7 Plus, I probably will skip the stylus. I know that some people like to use a stylus on a tablet computer, but I don’t see much need for it. I found that my finger works as well as the stylus, and I never misplace the finger!
In short, the Hewlett-Packard 7 Plus tablet rocks. It bundles together very nice hardware along with the Android operating system and its thousands of available apps. This is an excellent portable computer for a genealogist or for most anyone else. I am happy with mine. However, be aware it doesn’t have the very best specifications when compared to other, more expensive tablets. If you want the best, open your checkbook and look at the Apple iPad or iPad Mini or the Google Nexus 7.
You can read more about the Hewlett-Packard 7 Plus at http://www.shopping.hp.com/en_US/home-office/-/products/Tablets/HP/G4B64AA?HP-7-Plus and the device can usually be purchased for $99 from the same page. However, as I write these words, the page says “out of stock.” That’s interesting for a device only announced a few days ago. Obviously, the demand has been high. I am not sure if HP will still offer the lower price when the company receives more stock or if future sales will be at the full retail price of $119.
The same computer is selling for the normal retail price of $119 on Amazon at http://goo.gl/8s5cCf. Amazon’s listings say “in stock” as I write these words, but I suspect that may change soon as well. You should be able to find the HP 7 Plus at most “big box” electronics stores although availability may be limited because these tablets are in high demand.