HP dipped its toes into the Android-tablet market a few months ago with the debut of the solid-enough but largely unremarkable Slate 7, a compact Android tablet. (We classify tablets with screens of 7 to 8 inches as “compacts,” versus “full-size” models with displays 8.9 inches or larger.) While certainly not a bad tablet for the price, the HP Slate 7 was more notable for what it lacked than for what it delivered. It didn’t have GPS functionality or a gyroscope, and its screen was lackluster and low-resolution. On its second Android-tablet offering, though, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based electronics giant has hit the ground running. The $479.99-list SlateBook 10 x2 looks to have a lot more vim and vroom out of the box, starting with its processor chip.
This full-size (10.1-inch) HP tablet represents a much bolder, head-long plunge into the Android fray. With its Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, it delivers record-breaking Android performance, plus a high-resolution screen, a decent keyboard dock, and several highly useful productivity apps. Also bold are some of the design decisions HP has made, such as the placements of the power button, volume toggle, and speakers. (We’ll discuss these and a few other key design features on the next page.)
More questionable, though, is the choice of screen. Despite building in a display with a more-than-adequate 1,920×1,200 native resolution, HP left the SlateBook 10 x2 out in the cold with a screen that’s too dim compared with the displays on several recent competing Android slates, such asToshiba’s Excite Pro and Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z. We found that even when cranked up, the screen rendered dark scenes in movies with too little detail, making certain parts tough to see. (Black portions, especially, were a little cloudy or muddy-looking.) It’s not that the screen is unacceptable; it’s just not as eye-catching as competing ones. We’ll talk more about the display in the Features & Apps section a little later on.
While that display foible is a major one—a tablet is essentially one big screen, after all—it doesn’t change the fact that the SlateBook 10 x2 turned in the fastest scores we’ve seen to date for an Android tablet on nearly all of our benchmark tests. It also endured a respectably long time on our demanding battery-rundown test, and the keyboard docking station—a good one for the price—houses a second battery that, when the tablet is docked, extends the unplugged runtime by about another five hours.
As you can see, this slate has a lot going for it. The screen is disappointing, but not so much that we consider it a deal breaker—unless, that is, your primary concern is watching movies. If so, we suggest you get a look at this tablet before you buy, to make sure you can live with the dim display panel.