You know, there are some tech companies out there (um, Apple) that claim that everybody copies them and only them, and that they deserve retribution for it. Don’t let that mumbo jumbo fool you, folks, tech companies have been imitating (and often even improving on the ideas of) competitors for as long as the industry existed.
The Android ecosystem is a perfect example on how the success of one product can sometimes create a whole range of similar products, a new market, if you will. The ASUS-made Google Nexus 7 is one of those products, as some of the recent tablet announcements have shown us. The success of the Nexus 7 made some (if not all) Android OEMs realize that the 7 inch, mid-range tablet is a niche that’s too big to ignore.
One of the most recent contenders in the category is the HP Slate 7, a mid-ranger that was officially announced at MWC 2013. But is the HP Slate 7 really capable of competing against the Nexus 7? Or is Google’s “non-profit” model just too aggressive for “real world” manufacturers to compete with? Let’s discover together in our HP Slate 7 vs Google Nexus 7 comparison.
The HP Slate 7 uses a 7 inch FFS+ LCD that works at 1024 by 600 pixel resolution. Crispness is not one of the strong suits of this display, something that’s reflected in the panel’s low 170 ppi density. Overall, image quality is sub average and represents the biggest drawback of the HP Slate 7.
The Google Nexus 7 display runs at a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, thus featuring a pixel density of 216. You can never say this too many times: the Nexus 7 represents the current minimal standard for display quality. Unfortunately for HP, they haven’t managed to meet our expectations.
Verdict: The Nexus 7 wins this round!
Design and Build Quality
The Google Nexus 7 measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm (7.81 x 4.72 x 0.41 in) and weighs 340 g (11.99 oz). Its soft, rubbery plastic back certainly improves the grip of the the tablet, which is important for a device designed to be hold with one hand.
In the other corner, the HP Slate 7 has quite a plasticky build itself, although the soft touch back might inspire some customers thanks to its bright colors. In terms of size, the HP Slate 7 measures 197.1 x 116.1 x 10.7 mm (7.76 x 4.57 x 0.42 in) and weighs 372 g (13.12 oz). As you can see, the dimensions are very similar, with the Slate 7 weighing in a tad more.
Verdict: We’ll call this a draw.
Hardware and specs
CPU, GPU, and RAM
The Google Nexus 7 uses an underclocked version of the Nvidia Tegra 3 SoC, one that consists out of a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, and an Nvidia ULP GPU. Paired with 1GB of RAM, this translates into a generally smooth experience. It’s definitely no match for the Google Nexus 10, or the recently announced Sony Xperia Tablet Z, but it still provides decent performance in most situations.
The HP Slate 7, on the other hand, uses a 1.6-GHz dual-core Cortex A9 CPU, paired with 1 GB of RAM that has behaved well in our initial tests, but we’ll have to spend more time with the tablet to see how it really stacks up against the Google Nexus 7.
The Google Nexus 7 is currently being offered in 16 GB and 32 GB variants and does not support microSD cards. The HP Slate 7 comes with just 8 GB of internal storage, but can accept microSD cards of up to 32 GB in size.
HP did not reveal the exact capacity of the battery inside the HP Slate 7, but the manufacturer did announce that the tablet will last for 5 hours of video playback on one charge. We’ll have to wait before we perform our own tests to proper assess the battery life of the HP Slate 7, but it is worth mentioning that the 4325 mAh battery inside the Nexus 7 lasts for 10 hours while playing HD content.
Verdict: Before more benchmarks roll out or we get the HP Slate 7 into our lab for more testing, I’m calling this one a draw!
Software and Operating System
The HP Slate 7 will ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box and will feature a mostly stock Android user interface. This means that, for the time being, the Android experience should be very similar on our two combatants. In addition, HP cooked some little extras into the OS, such as Beats Audio software enhancement and the ePrint wireless printing interface. But there’s a catch!
The Nexus 7, which currently runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is expected to be updated to the upcoming version of Android in roughly a week after the official announcement of Key Lime Pie. HP Slate 7 users, on the other hand, will probably have to wait more.
Verdict: While it is commendable that HP has decided to go for the vanilla Android UI, the future updates for the HP Slate 7 are a concern.
Back when Google has announced the Nexus 7, it was obvious that Android manufacturers were going to have a very hard time competing on equal terms.
As it turns out, although the gap has significantly closed over the past few months, it looks like Google’s low-margin model is still a tough nut to crack for Android OEMs.
However, given that the HP Slate 7 will cost a little less than the Nexus 7, it could make a nice device for someone who’s not interested in great performance.
What do you think?
Verdict: We’ll call this a draw.