The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.I own one of the original Apple iPad handheld computers. While I like the device, I realize that newer handheld computers have more features, high-resolution cameras, more memory for data storage, and numerous other advantages that my aging device does not possess. In addition, I have realized the iPad's almost 10-inch screen makes it too bulky to carry with me all the time. As a result, the iPad often sits on the desk at home when I really would like to be using it when I am out and about. After all, what good is battery-powered portability when the thing is not convenient to carry?
I also use an iPhone, but its screen is a bit too small for some applications, and “typing” on its glass keyboard is quite difficult for anything longer than a few words. I feel like I am reciting a fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. However, I can identify with her “problem.” One device is too large to carry, another has a screen too small to be useful all the time. Like Goldilocks, I was looking for the one that is “just right.”
I started looking at the various 7-inch tablet computers that have become available in the past two years or so.
Apple makes the newer iPad Mini, of course. It is a great handheld system with a 7-inch screen and numerous other improvements when compared to my original iPad. However, with a retail price of $329 and up, depending upon memory capacity and communications options, I decided to wait a while before purchasing an iPad Mini. After all, the history of computers has always proven that, if you wait a while, prices always drop for any given technology. Indeed, I didn't have to wait long.
Hewlett-Packard recently announced a new 7-inch handheld computer, called the Slate 7. In the announcement, HP said it would ship on May 1st. I read the specifications closely. The 13-ounce device seemed to match the iPad Mini's specifications in most features although with a few exceptions. Best of all was the price: $169.99. Given the fact that the HP Slate 7 Tablet sells for about half the price of the cheapest iPad Mini, the specs seem to be quite acceptable.
The HP Slate 7 uses the Android operating system. Over the years, I have used a number of Android devices and am generally familiar with both Android and Apple's iOS operating systems. My most recent Android purchase was the $20-a-month cell phone that I wrote about at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=23432. Unlike that cheap cell phone, the Hewlett-Packard Slate 7 Tablet runs the Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) version of the operating system. Technically, Android 4.2 is the latest version of Android although the differences between version 4.1 and 4.2 are minor. Details may be found at http://www.android.com/.
The 7.75 by 4.5 by 0.4 inch (197 by 116 by 10.7 millimeter) HP Slate 7 Tablet features a 7-inch display with 1,024 x 600 pixels. That is slightly smaller than an Apple iPad Mini at 7.9 inches and also has fewer pixels than the iPad Mini's 1024 x 768 pixels. The display of the HP Slate 7 tablet also isn't quite as bright as that of the iPad Mini. The rear-facing camera is 3 megapixels, not as high resolution as the iPad Mini's camera that is capable of recording HD video in full 1080 pixels.
One major advantage of the HP Slate 7 Tablet over the iPad is the expandable memory. With the iPad Mini, you pay high prices for a device with 16, 32, or 64 gigabytes of memory. You need to make a decision when you purchase the device as it cannot be upgraded later. In contrast, the HP Slate 7 Tablet comes with only 9 gigabytes of useable memory (the rest is apparently used by the operating system), but it also contains a small slot for plugging in an expansion microSD memory card. This card is limited to a maximum of 32 gigabytes, unlike the iPad Mini's maximum of 64 gigabytes. However, 32 gigabyte cards are available at reasonable prices from a number of vendors, including your local computer store or office supply store.
After reading the announcement, I immediately ordered an HP Slate 7 Tablet on the HP web site. I also promised in this newsletter at http://goo.gl/4du9K that I would write about this new, low-cost tablet after I had gained some experience with it. This is the article that I promised.
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