Editorial

HP Slate 2: Too early, too expensive, and a stylus

Last week, I praised HP CEO Meg Whitman for reversing the decision to spin off their PC business.  While the stated reasons were purely financial, I believed that Whitman had sincerely learned from another company’s mistakes (Netflix) and that this was a great sign for future decisions made by the new CEO.

Then HP announces that they aren’t backing out of the tablet business, and the Slate 2 is shown to the public, a Windows device with a stylus, starting at $699. All of a sudden, I’m not so sure I was correct in judging the new HP leadership favorably.

Let’s review the events of the past couple of months. On July 1, HP releases the Touchpad amidst hype that its purchase of Palm and WebOS was finally coming to fruition. Proponents and fans of Palm’s well-designed but ill-fated mobile OS rejoice as it reaches the public eye again and is tweaked for tablet use. Reviewers and consumers aren’t so sure that this is the best implementation of WebOS, and complain of sluggish UI, bugginess and general but expected lack of quality tablet software.  They also released it at $499/$599 (16GB/32GB). Naturally, it failed miserably.

Fast forward a very short few weeks, and HP can’t salvage the Touchpad. They decide to discontinue it and are forced to sell off the remaining retail stock at $99/$150. All of a sudden, it’s Christmas in August, and people are lining up outside Best Buy for hours to try and snag one of those super cool HP iPads (Overheard in line at 7AM outside my local Best Buy).  New reviews popped up raving about how different and simple WebOS is, and that HP released a patch that speeds up everything and fixes a lot of the issues that bogged down the release version. Deal-hungry consumers were refreshing retail websites 7 times a minute in anticipation of stock delivery. It was a pretty big deal.

Unfortunately for those who didn’t get one at rock bottom price, HP did actually discontinue the Touchpad, and it seemed like it sulked away with its tail between its legs, upset but proud owners of some great new market research about what makes consumers tick.

What can we learn from the Touchpad fiasco? I’m sure members of the HP board of directors asked this question quite a few times, and I’m hoping that the answers revolved around the following tenet: Don’t release a device that consumers will perceive to be inferior to the iPad (Let’s face it: Just about anything that isn’t an iPad), and then make it more expensive than the iPad. This is common sense. The moment that the Touchpad dropped its price point, it sold like Bieber tickets.

When HP puts out a Windows 7 tablet that is only slightly more updated than its predecessor, running Windows 7 on an Atom processor, and it uses a stylus, I applaud the effort to let WebOS lay low for a bit and attack the tablet market from a different angle. When HP sells it starting at $699, I find out which executive was responsible and fire him/her immediately. That’s outrageous. Selling anything with an Atom processor for more than $300 is a tough sell to begin with when Samsung is shipping their Chromebook with an i5 for less, and the Windows 7/Stylus concept hasn’t been wildly successful in any other product to date. The timing couldn’t have been worse; the months before a slew of new Android tablets are released and old tablets are upgraded to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS, if you’re cool), is simply not the right time to release an expensive Atom tablet with a stylus.  

A true Windows 8 tablet may have deserved that price point, but that’s anyone’s guess this early in its development. If HP learned anything from the Touchpad (and they obviously didn’t), it’s that price point can and will make or break a product. The Slate 2 is too early, too expensive, and will continue to diminish HP’s tablet prospects for the future. It’s decisions like these that make me wonder if HP really should have spun off its PC division after all. If this how you get back into the tablet game, maybe you should just stick with enterprise services.

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The info available on HP's website is confusing. In the US the Slate 2 comes with Digitizer Pen, Cradle Dock, Folio Case and AC Power Adapter for the prices quoted. For other countries the answer may be different.

Ok, update. Looking at HP's site. The pen is EXTRA (fail) and does not have a slot for it in the tablet (double fail).

I just don't get why these guys can get these 90% right but then stop. That is my frustration. I get that the digitizer is expensive but if I decide it is worth it and want to spend the money, don't nickel and dime me.

Why have it if you charge extra for a pen and then ensure I won't have that pen when I need it! (lost/etc.)

Darn you HP, you almost had me.

There are plenty of windows slates coming but I WANT pen and have been considering the much more expensive Asus EP121. I think I am in on this one. Too expensive?? I bought my wife an iPad for this much and she watches movies and plays games. Really?

thenetavenger has it right. REAL digitizers are expensive (too bad).

I have been using some sort of pen input since the first Palm. I have an iPhone and really miss having a good input option but then we all know how poorly Apple has done keyboards. (predictive text anyone?)

Great product but this price!! I am happy finally a tablet is coming out with stylus AND touch. Perfect for drawing with my kids. Now if this was in the 400$ it would be a no brainer ( for me) but at this price point it is a hard no.

HP should have released an Android tablet instead. Windows 7 on tablets is like Windows mobile on smartphones - a lame duck.

Joey S said,
HP should have released an Android tablet instead. Windows 7 on tablets is like Windows mobile on smartphones - a lame duck.

Funny...

(Wait, you weren't being serious, were you?)

Android isn't as fast as people think, especially when you get to desktop class hardware and can run numbers comparing it against something like Windows 7.

It seems that HP hasn't learn its lesson! Highly priced, low spec (for the price), too late, it comes among a sea of other tablets that more or less have established a certain status in sales.
It will end up like it's previous fail.

Nikos_GR said,
It seems that HP hasn't learn its lesson! Highly priced, low spec (for the price), too late, it comes among a sea of other tablets that more or less have established a certain status in sales.
It will end up like it's previous fail.

The display costs as much as the cheaper netbooks slates alone, and this author and other don't seem to understand that REAL digitizer quality/level screens are not iPad cheap...

(And ironically, the freaking iPad is more expensive and 10 to 100 times slower)

smooth3006 said,
Boy you people are brutal on here anymore. They should close any comments on their future articles.

Exactly, and we should stop visiting this site all together... Good idea (question mark)

Windows 7/Stylus concept hasn't been wildly successful in any other product to date

Seriously? What your metric or reality?

In business and corporate users, Windows7 touch and Windows7 touch/stylus is far more 'wildly' used than any other tablet/touch/slate device.

I know the iPad movement with consumers and the cute commercials make people forget reality, but when it comes to the real world, companies doing large deployment of Windows7 convertible/slate/TabletPC devices is far more prevalent than what people inside the Apple bubble realize.

I also find it curious that this article, like others, tend to 'downplay' the Stylus like it is some 'old technology'... Yet having a 'stylus' that is pressure sensitive is far more productive for paint, drawing, and handwriting. The handwriting part is not as easy as a keyboard for some users, but for non-keyboard users is far easier, and is also far easier and faster than an iPad with a touch screen only keyboard solution.

I guess some people are still stuck at finger painting. Without pressure sensitive displays.

I personally prefer drawing with a real feeling pencil/pen/paintbrush, and like for my handwritten notes to be recognized and retained with my doodles and side notes that are scribbled on the side of the page.

Also being Windows 7, I also like to have my meeting recorded with the time-line of my notes synchronized with the audio. It is also handy to have the audio transcribed as needed so I can dictate several pages of typing faster than even a proficient typist can produce. When I'm working on a book, project, and ideas.

---

I agree the price is a bit high on this device with the Atom processor.

However, have you asked yourself why the price is so high on the iPad, when it is slower than this computer with the Atom processsor? Funny that little facts like that are overlooked.

Especially when this device is 10 to 1000 times faster than an iPad2, for things that people 'think' the iPad is designed for, like web browsing, light applications, video, media, etc.

So ya, this is a bit overpriced for an Atom device, but using this metric the ARM based iPad2 is horribly overpriced.

When can we expect the article exposing the iPad for its high price and low performance and lack of a pressure sensitive display that can use a real Stylus?

*My performance numbers and comparison is based on the first generation HP Slate, so the performance notes above and personal impressions should be a larger difference and more contrastive when compared to an iPad2.

Edited by thenetavenger, Nov 4 2011, 3:38am :

There likely won't be a fire sale on this just like there never was a fire sale for the original HP slate 500. BTW, The HP Touchpad will be on sale at a few places tomorrow afternoon online. However, its bundles only.

As to those saying its not suitable for windows 8 this is sort of true. The native resolution is 1024x600 but you can up it to 1024x768 if you like. So you can run metro applications on it but you can't use the new side by side feature for metro apps. (Tested it with Windows 8.)

Also, only the starting price is cheaper (32gb), the original slate was 64gb only and the 64gb version of the slate 2 is still the same $799 as the original slate 500.

pupdawg21 said,
As to those saying its not suitable for windows 8 this is sort of true. The native resolution is 1024x600 but you can up it to 1024x768 if you like. So you can run metro applications on it but you can't use the new side by side feature for metro apps. (Tested it with Windows 8.)

Also, only the starting price is cheaper (32gb), the original slate was 64gb only and the 64gb version of the slate 2 is still the same $799 as the original slate 500.

1024x768 will cause it to scale. This will cause things to get distorted and look bad.

When did Stylus' become so demonised?

I am willing to bet the majority of you havent used a tablet with one. Whilst Windows was in dire need of a Win8 style UI to make the touch experience more rich and friendly, MS Windows has great pen recognition which doesnt need to be tossed out the window.

Why not have the best of both worlds.

But even with a more reasonable price point this device would be doomed to fail because on the current achitecture you cannot get a full day business use out of a Windows tablet. Nor does the current version of windows support a touch friendly UI. HP and others need to back off and wait for WIn8 to roll out and start producing hardware which can give people all day battery life at a comparable price point.

price is high, but the part about stylus is just pure ignorance. it's not a stylus on top of that, it's a freaking wacom digitizer with pressure sensitivity and such (so no wonder about higher price), and said pressure sensitivity can be expanded by having more advanced compatible pen.
sure, browsing is more comfortable using touch (which Slate 2 does have also) but when in comes to handwriting, sketching and drawing - nothing beats digitizer.
I'm not defending HP or this particular tablet, I'm just saying it's sad how wacom enabled tablet PC's are underrated or unknown to general public.

х.iso said,
price is high, but the part about stylus is just pure ignorance. it's not a stylus on top of that, it's a freaking wacom digitizer with pressure sensitivity and such (so no wonder about higher price), and said pressure sensitivity can be expanded by having more advanced compatible pen.
sure, browsing is more comfortable using touch (which Slate 2 does have also) but when in comes to handwriting, sketching and drawing - nothing beats digitizer.
I'm not defending HP or this particular tablet, I'm just saying it's sad how wacom enabled tablet PC's are underrated or unknown to general public.

+1

It is either ignorance or youth that don't remember just a couple of years ago Wacom was selling digitizers with built in displays for $1500 used by real artists and designers. Seeing that Wacom is still in business and sold a TON of those devices as well, it could have some importance.

However, kids like to fingerpaint, and until they know better will continue to finger paint.

It's a hardware refresh that's been in the pipe for something like nine months. Ever try taking notes with an on screen keyboard? A Stylus, OneNote and ink to text are prefect. I write, OneNote converts, my notes get indexed and shared with my team.

Sure the Samsung 7 Slate is Windows 8 ready, but this will work for now and at almost the same price as the TouchPad was when HP released it. Oh and the Slate 2 has more available assp than the iPad or TouchPad. so Neeeh.

The author should probably get out of his own private consumer world and realize that there's a big corporate demand for windows based tablets. Versatility, compatibility, portability and most of all security. These things simply slot into their usual ecosystem.

As for the stylus, it simply makes it easier to use. And if it's a proper tablet stylus it's also awesome for artists or people who want something they can take notes or sketch or write one.

I completely disagree. This isn't targeted at people who would buy a TouchPad or an iPad or even a Windows 8 tablet. This is aimed towards people who need one in enterprise. Who need a stylus. Architects, graphic designers and the like.

These people will pay the price tag for such a product. Stylus' have their place. I don't mind them, actually. Better than just tapping at a crappy keyboard.

Owen W said,
I completely disagree. This isn't targeted at people who would buy a TouchPad or an iPad or even a Windows 8 tablet. This is aimed towards people who need one in enterprise. Who need a stylus. Architects, graphic designers and the like.

These people will pay the price tag for such a product. Stylus' have their place. I don't mind them, actually. Better than just tapping at a crappy keyboard.

+1

What is weird is that people seem to think a Stylus is just a pen to point at the screen, and forget that they are pressure sensitive, do angle and tilt and other input capabilities used in drawing and handwriting that an iPad or other type of tablet is not capable of doing.

TabletPCs were not designed based on a simple touch interface, they were designed to have much 'richer' input experiences that the iPad generation of consumers get cheated out of experiencing.

Even Windows Smartphones before the iPhone existed had pressure sensitive displays using the Stylus and a couple had it with touch as well.

(Oddly, even the ZuneHD with touch only did pressure sensitive input, yet the iPad 'norm' has removed this from expectations and retarded the tablet/phone industry.)

HP had a good tablet that was unique, it was the TM2T. Then they killed it, and started doing what everyone else is doing. HP likes shooting themselves in the foot too much, reminds me of Sony.

helios01 said,
HP had a good tablet that was unique, it was the TM2T. Then they killed it, and started doing what everyone else is doing. HP likes shooting themselves in the foot too much, reminds me of Sony.

Those things had horrible screens and the wedge shape doesn't work well for a tablet PC. HP still makes a convertible tablet, the EliteBook 2760 though it costs quite a bit more than the consumer variants. Refurbished they're a decent price, though. You can also actually pick up new ones for around $1000 on eBay.

Did HP discontinue their consumer tablets, though?

johndotcom83 said,
i wonder if it can run angry birds, cause the slate 500 definitly can not

Slate 500 can run Angry Birds, u can play Angry Birds on Google Chrome

I'd have to agree that this editorial isn't very good. This device is aimed at the enterprise, not daily home users. This device wasn't released to counteract the failure of the TouchPad. The TouchPad was aimed at that daily consumer, while the Slate's main target is for the business enterprise.

greenwizard88 said,
What did you expect, it's written by an Apple fanboi.

..... you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

Worst editorial evar.

Criticizing this device because it comes with a stylus is like complaining that your car came with floor mats.

bj55555 said,
Worst editorial evar.

Criticizing this device because it comes with a stylus is like complaining that your car came with floor mats.


Lol.. He thought stylus is a must to operate..
Editorial my foot. (Oh forgot..... Neowin=Unprofessional journalism!!!)

The main failure of this device is the screen resolution. With 600 pixels vertically, this is a major fail for W8. Acer Iconia W500 is a better choice for that reason alone, plus its cheaper. I don't get what HP is thinking.

BigBoy said,
The main failure of this device is the screen resolution. With 600 pixels vertically, this is a major fail for W8. Acer Iconia W500 is a better choice for that reason alone, plus its cheaper. I don't get what HP is thinking.

this is a tablet aimed at the professionnal market, especially for professionals who need to take notes on a computer when being stand up. It's not suitable for windows 8. It's designed for people who need it today on windows 7.

HP has to look to its zseries workstations. If they make all their machines that quality and design they will be able to compete with apple. Just releasing products like the slate 2 just because will not do them any favors.

I agree. This device is a business-class device - the stylus has it place. While it can be used as such, this tablet is not consumer electronics. I'd love to use OneNote and Acrobat Pro X on one of these. However, the market is still young. I'm holding off until I can get one of these in a dual-core 64-bit version with 4GB of RAM at an affordable price.

techfreak said,
I agree. This device is a business-class device - the stylus has it place. While it can be used as such, this tablet is not consumer electronics. I'd love to use OneNote and Acrobat Pro X on one of these. However, the market is still young. I'm holding off until I can get one of these in a dual-core 64-bit version with 4GB of RAM at an affordable price.

an atom is OK if you need a device to do internet browser, note taking, video playback, ...

you don't need a core I5 on a tablet!

I own both an iconia tab w500 (amd dual core 1ghz 64bits), and the Samsung BUILD tablet (core i5), and I can tell you the iconia tab lasts much longer on battery (6h20) than the samsung tablet (4h00), both running on battery. Unfortunately the iconia tab has no stylus.
But the point is that it is stupid to have too much power inside a tablet, because that means less battery.

link8506 said,

an atom is OK if you need a device to do internet browser, note taking, video playback, ...

you don't need a core I5 on a tablet!

I own both an iconia tab w500 (amd dual core 1ghz 64bits), and the Samsung BUILD tablet (core i5), and I can tell you the iconia tab lasts much longer on battery (6h20) than the samsung tablet (4h00), both running on battery. Unfortunately the iconia tab has no stylus.
But the point is that it is stupid to have too much power inside a tablet, because that means less battery.

I must admit I haven't shopped a lot for tablets, but I was referring to something like the w500. Dual core, 64-bit, in a low-power usage processsor! Yes! An i5 (and even i3) is overkill for my intended usage.

Why do people have a hate-on for the stylus?

Microsoft's Ink features are very well implemented and when windows 8 lands will compliment touch nicely.

I think we need to promote Windows slates in schools over iPads and Android devices if for nothing else, than the stylus. Children need to learn how to write.

dotf said,

I think we need to promote Windows slates in schools over iPads and Android devices if for nothing else, than the stylus. Children need to learn how to write.

Unless you can replicate the tactile sensation of pencil on paper, a stylus will not improve your handwriting.

Tzvi Friedman said,

Unless you can replicate the tactile sensation of pencil on paper, a stylus will not improve your handwriting.

I'm not talking about improvement, I'm talking about learning the base skill.
There are areas of this world where children are not taught handwriting, in favor of tap-typing on tablets and touch-typing on keyboards.

Tzvi Friedman said,

Unless you can replicate the tactile sensation of pencil on paper, a stylus will not improve your handwriting.

Touch can never beat stylus when it comes to writing and drawing.

Tzvi Friedman said,

Unless you can replicate the tactile sensation of pencil on paper, a stylus will not improve your handwriting.

It's certainly going to be better than writing with your finger.

dotf said,
Why do people have a hate-on for the stylus?

Microsoft's Ink features are very well implemented and when windows 8 lands will compliment touch nicely.

Exactly. What is *WRONG* with the tech writing community? Have they all lost their brains to the Reality Distortion Field?

The Slate 2 is a direct descendent of the Slate 500, with updated parts and a $100 price drop. It is targeted at the enterprise market, specifically for vertical applications. In this market, no stylus = no sale.

dotf said,
Why do people have a hate-on for the stylus?

Because Apple brainwashed them into believing that touch-only (iPad) is the best and most magical way of interacting with your glorious device.

mjedi7 said,
Who wants a stylus, yack!

A stylus is a good thing. It's not pen only, it's pen + touch. This way you can navigate and use the OS with your finger but when you need to take notes you have a pen to do so. I personally would not buy a tablet that didn't have one.

mjedi7 said,
Who wants a stylus, yack!

I want! I can load applications like sketchbook pro on it directly draw on screen with pen pressure support. But only if price was reasonable.

mjedi7 said,
Who wants a stylus, yack!

A stylus with a digitier? Hell yes. That's one of the most attractive things about a Windows Slate PC, being able to actually write down notes and such.

mjedi7 said,
Who wants a stylus, yack!

Why do people have to hate on the stylus? It's not necessary to use it (see the other varieties of Windows tablets). It's just useful if you want to take down notes, write a more personal letter, sketch, or whatever that trying to do with just your finger seems silly.

As far as i know, it's not easy to input a quick diagram or larger math equations with a keyboard and maybe your fingers. Same with drawing. Get over it that people might want a stylus compatible device (hopefully active digitizer).

~Johnny said,

A stylus with a digitier? Hell yes. That's one of the most attractive things about a Windows Slate PC, being able to actually write down notes and such.

Exactly! What is this sudden hatred for the stylus? I have used it since Windows Tablet XP and, IMO of course, a "Tablet" without a stylus..... is not a "Tablet" at all.
I welcome the ability to touch the screen to open an app and do some other tasks but if I had to choose between the stylus and the touch screen I would choose the former in a second, much more useful in the long run.

mjedi7 said,
Who wants a stylus, yack!

+1
Talk about outdated.

The only reason it has one is because navigating and using programs in Windows 7 with touch is a nightmare. Windows 8 may improve things, but this thing is junk plain and simple.

Joey S said,

+1
Talk about outdated.

The only reason it has one is because navigating and using programs in Windows 7 with touch is a nightmare. Windows 8 may improve things, but this thing is junk plain and simple.

Yet someone else who doesn't get it. A stylus is for handwriting. You know, taking notes, and for a business tablet it is also good for getting signatures. For navigating a GUI all you need is your fingers. (Which you can do on this thing btw, it's touch+pen)

I use a tablet PC everyday for college and work, I would hardly call windows 7 a nightmare for touch.

Article Said

What can we learn from the Touchpad fiasco? I'm sure members of the HP board of directors asked this question quite a few times, and I'm hoping that the answers revolved around the following tenet: Don't release a device that consumers will perceive to be inferior to the iPad (Let's face it: Just about anything that isn't an iPad), and then make it more expensive than the iPad. This is common sense. The moment that that the Touchpad dropped its price point, it sold like Bieber tickets.


Agreed. You can't compete with a brand, even though your product is superior for the same price.

Apple is just too strong in the mobile market. The best bet they could have done is to release the tablet at 250 US$ even though the revenue would have been poor.

Jose_49 said,


Apple is just too strong in the mobile market. The best bet they could have done is to release the tablet at 250 US$ even though the revenue would have been poor.

To be fair, HP has kind of a thing about margins lately

I definitely agree about the price tag. I think alot of people will overlook this device because of that. There so many other devices on the market (now and in the future) that will have better specs and a lower price that this will simply not be in alot of peoples range. I wonder what they were thinking here???

este said,
I definitely agree about the price tag. I think alot of people will overlook this device because of that.
That pretty much sums up how I viewed it. I was very interested until I saw 1) That it was stylus only and 2) The price. Could have overlooked the stylus if the price was low, but at $700? No.

cybertimber2008 said,
That pretty much sums up how I viewed it. I was very interested until I saw 1) That it was stylus only and 2) The price. Could have overlooked the stylus if the price was low, but at $700? No.
Hmm, someone says it's stylus+touch below... that makes me reconsider, but only at a different price.

cybertimber2008 said,
That pretty much sums up how I viewed it. I was very interested until I saw 1) That it was stylus only and 2) The price. Could have overlooked the stylus if the price was low, but at $700? No.

it is NOT "stylus only".
it has a dual digitalizer (capacitive) which means it supports both touch AND stylus.

Stylus is a bonus (for writing and drawing on the screen), not a drawback!

This journalist is stupid to consider having a stylus as something bad. It will probably even be standard on every win8 based device because MS has always believed in the need to have stylus support for the education market.

Anyway it may be a good tablet. The price is OK when compared to other x86 based tablets.
Don't compare it with android/ARM based tablets, they won't allow you to run windows (and windows apps), and won't receive support for 10 years like windows does! (usually, android device don't even receive security updates after a year)

If its stylus and touch and can play HD 1080-60p that my camera outputs then this is the perfect device that I want to buy.

My better half is in need of a computer and this will make a great birthday gift.

link8506 said,

Anyway it may be a good tablet.

The only problem is, the majority of prior evidence points to "no it won't".

(Edit: Assuming that it's targeted at the home users rather than only for business users.)

Edited by Manish, Nov 3 2011, 6:34pm :

figgy said,
If its stylus and touch and can play HD 1080-60p that my camera outputs then this is the perfect device that I want to buy.

My better half is in need of a computer and this will make a great birthday gift.

be aware that it is not suitable for windows 8. It has a resolution of only 1024x600, and the new metro touch interface of windows 8 will need a resolution of 1024x768.

figgy said,
Don't care or like Metro. From the looks of it in the beta its not for me.

It is in alpha. Win 7 got superbar in beta build, in alpha it looked like vista. So judging an OS on the basis of alpha build is stupidity.

figgy said,
Don't care or like Metro. From the looks of it in the beta its not for me.

Do you even know what metro IS?
Are you disliking on looks alone?