I’ve already told you that I ordered the HP Slate 500 Tablet PC. What I haven’t told you is why. Is it because I just can’t resist the siren song of the latest greatest gadget? Well, partly. But I have other
rationalizations reasons why I prefer the Slate 500 to the iPad or Android tablets like the coming Galaxy Tab, at least in the business world at which the Slate 500 is targeted.
This is the main reason. The Slate 500 has an active digitizer. The iPad doesn’t. Nor will the Galaxy Tab and other upcoming Android tablets.
Inking on an active digitizer, at least a good one, is like inking on paper. Yes, you also can ink on the iPad. But the inking is imprecise and slow compared to an active digitizer.
Inking is important to me. Not when I’m
stall sofa surfing. But when I’m wearing a business suit.
For example, I’m in a courtroom standing before a Judge. She is setting dates for deadlines and future hearings. I need to write this information down. Not type, write. I’ve tried to do this on an iPad. It’s OK, as long as I don’t have to write a lot (and the Judge doesn’t talk too fast). But it would be a lot easier on an active digitizer.
This is another important reason. While sofa-surfing, going back and forth between applications is an inconvenience. In a business situation, it can be a headache.
Back to my courtroom example. I’m writing notes in one application. The Judge asks if certain dates are doable. I usually have only several seconds to answer. In that context, closing the notes application, navigating to an opening my calendar application, and then checking the calendar is more than a PITA. It would be faster if I could spot the calendar application on the taskbar, and display this already open (in memory) app.
With iOS4 coming next month to the iPad, it will have multi-tasking … but only sort of. By contrast, Android already has its own multi-tasking which is not bad. Still, on the Android it takes two steps; a long press on the Home button and then touch the other app’s icon. By contrast, Windows involves only one step — just touch the other app’s icon on the task bar. So, in multi-tasking, the Slate 500 would have a large advantage over the iPad, less so over an Android.
My desktops run Windows 7. So do my laptops. Consequently, in my office(s), I run Windows applications. I can’t run Windows apps on an iPad or an Android. Obviously this won’t be a problem on the Slate 500.
There are iOS and Android applications that will enable you to view, and sometimes change, documents created in a Windows application. Documents To Go for Microsoft Office applications comes to mind. If formatting is not advanced, such applications can do a passable job. Unfortunately, legal pleadings have tricky formatting. Then there is reviewing documents with Track Changes. Suffice it to say my experience and success is mixed in viewing and changing in iOS and Android documents created in a Windows app.
Additionally, there are some specialty Windows apps that just don’t have an iOS or Android corollary, probably because the market is too small to justify the expense of developing one. For example, in the legal world, I use TextMap to store and view depositions.
I’m hardly unique in organizing my folders and files in a way that is logical (to me anyway). This is basically a no-go on the iOS, though very doable on an Android.
A Windows 7 tablet isn’t all gravy. I do have concerns. Basically performance. By performance, I mean both speed and fluidity. The iPad is a super-star in these departments. Android, not bad.
Windows is a heavy OS. Will the Slate 500’s Intel Atom Z540 processor be enough, even with 2GB of RAM? Back to my courtroom example, the ability to multi-task won’t do me much good if I’m staring at an hourglass for 20 seconds.
Ideally, I’d prefer a Core i7 processor. But the only one of those available currently is the Motion J3500. The J3500 is a beast both in weight (3.6 pounds vs. Slate 500’s 1.5 pounds) and price (realistically at least $2,500 vs. Slate 500’s $799).
There’s also the issue of responsiveness to touch. Much has been written about Windows basically being a desktop OS that expects a keyboard and a mouse and a larger display. Contrast this to iOS which is optimized for smaller, touch devices. (I think the jury may be out on Android tablets until future OS versions such as 3.0).
That said, I have used Windows tablets of similar size to the Slate 500’s 8.9” that have been reasonably responsive to touch. No way to predict until I actually use the Slate 500.
Battery life is also a question mark. The iPad is advertised at 10 hours. My experience usually is even better than that. I don’t expect 10 hours from a Windows tablet. But I’d like to do better than the usual 3 hours. Per HP, battery life is “up to 5+ hours.” We’ll see if that is at 1% brightness with all radios turned off.
Finally, there’s screen size. The iPad is at 9.7”, the Tab at 7”. The Slate 500 is at 8.9”. Is this a happy medium best of both worlds? Or a tweener worst of both worlds?
The estimated ship date is November 12. So I should have more to say soon.