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GBM InkShow: A Detailed Look at the HP Slate 500

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Here it is, the main event: Xavier spends nearly fifteen minutes with the HP Slate 500 Tablet PC in this first-look at the Windows 7 slate. It’s got pen input. It’s got a multi-touch screen. Any question you have is answered in this video. Well, no, not really, but seriously, he covers a lot in this fifteen minute InkShow.

Check out our other posts on the HP Slate 500 too!

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com

79 Comments

  1. Tabletguyamerica

    10/22/2010 at 3:13 am

    Thinix Touch keyboard is best…Windows one kinda fails…

    • Xavier Lanier

      10/22/2010 at 5:07 am

      Agreed. You can add Thinix yourself, but this first round of HP Slate 500′s is aimed at business customers who will most likely install their own images. It’s very bare bones in terms of software. Better than having bloatware, but maybe a bit too far.

      • Anonymous

        10/22/2010 at 3:22 pm

        Having used an active digitizer on tablets from the m1300 to OQO2, Win7 with an active digitizer is great. If you are going to use the touch screen, an alternate keyboard might be useful but with the dual screen you can use the Tablet Input Panel’s handwriting recognition. It’s far beyond other systems, including OneNote’s and EverNote’s. If it can recognize my chicken scratching on my OQO’s 5 inch screen, it can recognize anything.

  2. Cflores90

    10/22/2010 at 5:31 am

    This is exactly what I’ve always wanted (if it works like it is supposed to)…goodbye Latitude XT!

  3. Synergi

    10/22/2010 at 6:11 am

    How was the viewing angles, and did you notice any heat? That palm rejection has me worried too. I would have rather paid a bit extra for Wacom.

    • Xavier Lanier

      10/22/2010 at 7:41 am

      It was warm, but not hot after playing with it for quite a while. Nothing uncomfortable though. Like other devices, it may heat up when charging.

  4. Ingwing

    10/22/2010 at 6:12 am

    Thank you for this great review! I’m so happy to finally see a slate with pen input, but if I may ask some questions:
    Did I understand right that it has no palm rejection?
    Is it possible to switch touch off, e.g. for note taking?
    Also: Did you notice if the pen is showing the typical deviation between the pen tip and the cursor when its near the screen borders (even the 2740p shows this, unfortunately)?
    And finally, any experience yet about battery life?
    Sorry to bug you with this load of questions, but I really have waited for a device like this with pen input. Although in the meantime I invested in a 2740p, I am really itching for a real “notepad” and inking device :)
    Appreciate your work, and looking forward to more info!

    • Xavier Lanier

      10/22/2010 at 7:45 am

      I didn’t have enough time to determine if there’s ‘no’ palm rejection, but there’s definitely an issue here. I’m think that with practice I could get used to it, but right out of the box it’s not as smooth of an experience as I’d hope for. I did NOT get a chance to get into calibration settings. Also, you do have to cut some slack to the Slate 500 since it’s a prototype. We often see better touch/inking on production units than pre-production tablets.

      No, didn’t use any fullscreen inking applications, used my fingers to do most navigation.

      Battery life is rated at 5 hours with mobilemark. Mileage will vary and I wouldn’t expect to get anything above 5 hours.

      • Ingwing

        10/22/2010 at 8:09 am

        Thanks a lot Xavier. Will hold my breath then. I appreciate the work of the GBM team. Thanks!

      • Epsonjones

        10/22/2010 at 12:28 pm

        Looks to me like it registered your palm because you moved the pen away from the display- just like it is supposed to. Thanks for the review, but man did you fumble your way through it.

  5. oli

    10/22/2010 at 7:48 am

    Thanks a lot for your review! I’ve been waiting for infos about the HP Slate for quite some time now because it’s the only Tablet PC (in a price range below Motion Computing and other high-class-tablets) which looks / looked (see below) a lot like a good mix between a serious machine for working and an all around multi purpuse device.

    Now for the “but”… The palm rejection. Moving the Taskbar up is kind of funny and may solve a few issues but that’s definately not a final solution. Seriously, what is so difficult about palm rejection? As soon as the pen comes near the display, you just switch off the touch input. That system works absolutely perfect on my Lenovo X61T.

    As a student, I do a lot of annotating in class and all I’d need most days would be an effective slate. Don’t get me wrong – I love my X61T and think it is a great machine, but even if it’s small for a notebook, it is still much bigger and clumsier than a slate. That doesn’t make it very much fun to use any other way than with the thing laying down on a table which is limiting and definately doesn’t explore all the possibilities of pen based computing.

    In a nutshell: If the HP slate had (very) good palm rejection, I’d seriously think about scraping together the money somehow and getting one as soon as possible, even if it would blow a serious hole in my student’s wallet… If it had wacom, I’d be willing to pay even more.

    • Ingwing

      10/22/2010 at 8:14 am

      Agree 100%. I think a device the size of the HP Slate would be perfect for notetaking if they offer proper ink input and handwriting without compromising. I hope they did not put in a half hearted solution, and I guess we’ll see. I still am sad that MS scrapped their courier-concept…

  6. RJ

    10/22/2010 at 8:28 am

    Can I make a request. Can you install Photoshop CS4 or 5 on the device and show us Pressure Sensitivity? N-triq released not too long ago an update that would support pressure in photoshop. If it runs photoshop without lag and if the pressure works….this will be the ultimate digital sketchpad.

    • Xavier Lanier

      10/22/2010 at 8:33 am

      RJ- we don’t have review units in yet, but we can give it a shot. What line of work are you in? The HP Slate 500 has a relatively lightweight processor and I’m not sure how it would handle CS5.

      • RJ

        10/22/2010 at 8:58 pm

        I’m a digital artist and I would use the device primarily for digital painting. I’m not too concerned with the specs, I’ve plugged in USB tablets into many netbooks with worse specs and Photoshop CS4 ran just fine for my uses.

        • Xavier Lanier

          10/22/2010 at 9:12 pm

          Gotcha, that’s a different use-case than what I use it for.

  7. Gordon

    10/22/2010 at 9:12 am

    Oh my. A touch only digitizer. Looks like my P1620 is still the better option.

    Gordon

    • Anonymous

      10/22/2010 at 10:57 am

      No, it’s a dual pen+touch digitizer. That’s shown in all the videos we have posted.

      • Gordon

        10/22/2010 at 9:11 pm

        really? what else could explain the apparent total lack of palm rejection in the videos? If it were dual, wouldn’t the touch be disabled when the pen approaches the digitiser?

        Gordon

        • Anonymous

          10/22/2010 at 9:31 pm

          Limited proximity sensing. Touch simply not being turned off when pen is detected. It’s not necessarily an either-or proposition. In fact, Microsoft Research is working on applications that use simultaneous pen and touch input. Whatever the case, it is a pen+touch system. The pen has a right-click button and the tip of a capacitive stylus cannot be that thin.

  8. GoodThings2Life

    10/22/2010 at 12:10 pm

    Aside from the concerns about the palm rejection and such, I’d have to say this is definitely what I wanted to see from HP… both in terms of design and functionality. More and more I find myself at my desk doing my work, but because I’m also leaving the desk to go provide support or troubleshooting or sitting in meetings, this would be great for note-taking and simple administrator tasks. Also, I can see my doctors and nurses using it with our EMR solution for their charts and such.

    5 hours is still a bit of battery life, especially given its extra power and function… even if I come in at 7am, I throw it on the charger at lunch, and then I’m good for the afternoon. I have to anticipate that any consumer-grade offering will improve that as well.

    I think I said on another post last night, $800 is a whole lot cheaper than any existing Windows tablets on the market, and this is certainly better equipped than the iPad technologically speaking, so I’d say it’s well worth the $100 bump to have something a bit more productive.

    Bottom line, I’m sold on it. :)

    • ChrisRS

      10/23/2010 at 4:24 am

      Price comparison is difficult. The package incluse a dock, and case. The price could be lower if Win 7 Professional was optional. (Home Premium would be adequate for many busineesn users. Many small/home business do not have enterprise level security.)

      • GoodThings2Life

        10/24/2010 at 9:26 pm

        Not really… you might shave about $45-50 off the price, but OEM licensing of Windows is so ridiculously inexpensive that it wouldn’t really matter. Understandable that you and others always think so though– at $300 for an off-the-shelf upgrade, you wouldn’t expect such dramatic difference. Keep in mind, however, that OEM licensing is done in significant bulk.

        • CStevens

          10/26/2010 at 6:11 am

          I understand that, but my reccolection is that when you are able to configure a system, there is is usually about $100 differnce between Home Premium and Pro. I know the cost to the manufacturer is would be sustantially lower. $45 to 50 is about half of that $100 bump from the iPad to the Slate 500. My point was not that the price should be lower, but that the there are items included with the HP but that are extra cost with the iPad.

  9. Flo

    10/22/2010 at 12:15 pm

    The Win7 screen keyboard can be resized to any size you want as well as docked at top or bottom, but why do reviewers never seem to know about this…?

    • Brett Gilbertson

      10/25/2010 at 3:38 am

      Agreed, a little bit dissapointing that Xavier did not know this. That aside, thanks Xavier for getting your hands on this!

  10. Elmstrom

    10/22/2010 at 12:15 pm

    Is the battery replaceable? (while there be extended battery options?)

    Where can i push buy?

  11. Epsonjones

    10/22/2010 at 12:16 pm

    Just ordered mine. Estimated ship date is 11/12. How do you launch a product on backorder?

    • ChrisRS

      10/23/2010 at 4:20 am

      Where did you place you order?

  12. SLSeto

    10/22/2010 at 12:21 pm

    (I didn’t have enough time to determine if there’s ‘no’ palm rejection, but there’s definitely an issue here)

    …Remember that palm rejection doesn’t come for free; it requires additional processing power, whether at the digitizer level or within the OS. The apparent lack of robust palm rejection may have been a processing power compromise that the design team had to make because of the overall architectural design of the Slate 500 (central processor, available battery power, desire for low cost and long battery life, etc…) – Steve S

    • Epsonjones

      10/22/2010 at 12:39 pm

      The way that n-trig implements palm rejection is essentially free: the touch layer is disabled whenever the pen is within range of the display. You have to be careful not to lift the pen too far away from the display as you write, but you get used to it quickly

      • oli

        10/22/2010 at 2:17 pm

        My thoughts exactly! It would be really, really easy to have *perfect* Palm rejection at no cost regarding processing power or anything else (except a few more lines of code).

        I’d be really interested in more infos on that point. Maybe the GBM team could even enquire with HP why there’s apparently no such feature…? :)

  13. GoodThings2Life

    10/22/2010 at 12:21 pm

    Umm… by the way… Windows 7 *does* allow you to resize the onscreen keyboard if you grab the resize handle in the lower right corner of the TIP. I don’t know why people seem to miss this fact, but you can make the keys as big/small as your screen resolution and viewing tastes allow.

  14. SLSeto

    10/22/2010 at 12:25 pm

    PS: Xavier: If you shoot another video, how about giving us a closer look at that pen and a little closer (and more careful) look at the quality of digital inking? Also, can you open the Control Panel and see if there is an N-trig Driver window; if so, what options does it provide…???

  15. Anonymous

    10/22/2010 at 1:30 pm

    @Tabletguyamerica: Thx for the 411 on the Thinix keyboard. Downloading the demo now on my Touchsmart TM2

  16. dstrauss

    10/22/2010 at 2:15 pm

    Ordered mine too – still quoting 11/12 but sales expected they will ship sooner (for what that is worth). I’ve had such good luck with Wacom on my 2730p I had hoped they’d got that route, but from what I’ve been reading N-Trig beats them on price and power consumption, the usual compromise/tradeoff in this category. My biggest hope is that businesses really take to this option regardless of the usual tech press salivation for allthings Apple (Gottabemobile excepted – thanks Sumocat and Xavier!). I realize this is only Gen1 and will not be a cute and responsive as the iPad, but overall it looks like HP hit a business home run with this one. Now, if I can just survive the wait.

    PS to the poster about not having prodct for immediate shipment: I waited two months between announcement and availability of the ipad I just recently sent to eBay heaven.

  17. Tatej

    10/22/2010 at 5:28 pm

    I was really starting to drool and then the lack of robust palm rejection killed it for me. So close to what I want, but I really need the inking capability I have on my current tablet pc. Bummer.

  18. Tuur

    10/22/2010 at 5:56 pm

    I think we all want a decent palm rejection but let’s just wait for a decent review or inkshow from our GBM friends. They will give special attention to this issue I assume.

    I hope this works out fine.

    • Riaz321

      10/22/2010 at 6:35 pm

      Any HP Codes

    • Tatej

      10/22/2010 at 8:52 pm

      You bring up a good point. And we do need to remember, this is a preproduction unit. I am still hopeful. I

    • Tatej

      10/22/2010 at 8:52 pm

      You bring up a good point. And we do need to remember, this is a preproduction unit. I am still hopeful. I

      • Xavier Lanier

        10/22/2010 at 9:18 pm

        Yes, it is an important issue and I wish I had spent more time on the ink aspects. We’ve seen several pre-production units from a lot of companies with flaws. One of the worst was a touchscreen laptop that would randomly sense touches that didn’t exist. The production units were fine.
        At least one of the HP Slate 500′s didn’t even have the HD media encoder and it had a different Atom processor than what’s in the final spec.
        Typically at these events people aren’t able to go hands on for 15+ minutes as meetings are booked back to back. HP was very accommodating and I didn’t want to completely overstay my welcome.

        We will hopefully get a review unit in before long.

  19. Riaz321

    10/22/2010 at 6:36 pm

    Any one has any HP coupons to apply for this
    Thanks
    Riaz

    • Xavier Lanier

      10/22/2010 at 9:21 pm

      No, and I don’t expect to get any. This is being sold via HP’s business channels, which aren’t as discount happy as HP’s consumer site/resellers.
      If you want to save some cash hold off for a month or two. They typically lower the price over time in the HP SMB store and there will be additional SKU’s. Wouldn’t be surprised to see one with a smaller SSD that would cost $100 less.

  20. acerbic

    10/22/2010 at 6:39 pm

    That pen tip looks like a jumbo magic marker compared to Wacom tips, but I guess it’ll have to do.

  21. GoodThings2Life

    10/22/2010 at 6:42 pm

    Regarding palm rejection, I’ve been thinking some more today… I have to confess that on my 2740p I actually have disabled touch input as a default input method. I turn it on once in a while but I’ve essentially opted to stick with pen input or convert it to laptop mode. No, it’s not because I think touch is overrated or dislike it, but I can accomplish the same goals through other means more efficiently.

  22. burningorange

    10/22/2010 at 10:41 pm

    finally, the successor to my ls800 ! i just ordered one.

  23. Motmaitre

    10/23/2010 at 12:00 am

    Xavier, the Win 7 soft keyboard is resizable (just drag the corner to expand it). Also, if you drop down the tools menu on the keyboard, you can change settings to make it dock automatically at the bottom of the screen. So it’s much better than you think- you just need to explore the options. Maybe do this before your next review?

  24. Mreilly

    10/23/2010 at 5:34 am

    How

  25. Mreilly

    10/23/2010 at 5:34 am

    How

  26. heatlesssun

    10/23/2010 at 8:23 am

    Just to clarify, devices with active digitizers don’t need palm rejection as the touch interface is disabled when the pen is close enough to the screen. What can happen however is if one moves the pen too far away from the screen while their hand is on the screen the touch interface reengages and touch input can be erroneously picked up. There is a way to manually disabled touch input when you want no interference from touch and only want to use the pen.

  27. heatlesssun

    10/23/2010 at 8:25 am

    Just to clarify, devices with active digitizers don’t need palm rejection as the touch interface is disabled when the pen is close enough to the screen. What can happen however is if one moves the pen too far away from the screen while their hand is on the screen the touch interface reengages and touch input can be erroneously picked up. There is a way to manually disabled touch input when you want no interference from touch and only want to use the pen.

  28. Norman D. Robinson

    10/23/2010 at 1:18 pm

    Can someone please answer this for me? Where is the 3G radio. I have a data only SIM card ready to be installed in this sort of device. I’m never in the office much and trying to find available free WiFi is just a “major, major” pain…!!!

    My wife’s iPad has a 3G radio included and a place for her desired SIM. Soooooo, please tell me this will be an option early. I’m an IT professional and I “MUST” be connected at all times.

    This new and much needed device will save my personal life as it would enable me to always have the complete “ENTERPRISE” with me at all times. This is going to be a revolution of sorts for all of us in my profession.

    Please tell me there is a GOBI radio in there somewhere….???

    • ChrisRS

      10/23/2010 at 7:49 pm

      I do not think it has 3G. You will need a USB solution, a MIFI or tether to a cell phone.

    • Anonymous

      10/25/2010 at 2:57 pm

      Sorry, no integrated 3G option in this. You’ll need to go with one of the solutions ChrisRS mentioned.

    • Xavier Lanier

      10/26/2010 at 4:35 pm

      There is no 3G, there is no GOBI. There is a USB port at the top center for a USB modem, or you can use a MiFi. Or you can tether your smartphone to it…
      According to HP, 3G adoption rate is far too low to include it for now. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be an HP Slate SKU down the road that has 3G. But that’s all for now…

  29. Anthony Madden

    10/23/2010 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks Xavier! Too bad you totally botched the most important part of the video: inking! You only wrote one word “GottabeMobile” and not even a full sentence! You should have opened Journal or Notepad and wrote out something better. Now we are left to speculate, was it you or the machine that was the problem. Everything else you showed was great! thanks again!

    • ChrisRS

      10/23/2010 at 7:53 pm

      I think MS and HP botched it by not including OneNote.

      I agree that we need to see more on inking.

      • dstrauss

        10/24/2010 at 6:45 pm

        I agree Chris – an integrated solution with OneNote would be a killer product – I know I’ve soap-boxed to death around here, but the first time a student sees they search months worth of HANDWRITTEN notes (without any need to convert to text) there eyes pop out of their head! I’ve seen this first hand and as we all know, it is beyond amazing.

        I suppose HP is on the “outs” with Microsoft over the Palm acquisition and some of the WebOS trash talk about superiority on the tablets – it may be superior on multi-media, much like the iPad, but it gets its chops busted in the enterprise compared to the Slate.

        • ChrisRS

          10/24/2010 at 8:01 pm

          Unfortunatly, students are not part of the market HP sees.

        • Brett Gilbertson

          10/25/2010 at 3:44 am

          Students will be a huge market for this device wether HP knows about it or not… at this price, it is finally within reach for many of them. I agree with you about searchable notes too, most people – especially business and executive types – are blown away by this. This is going to be huge! Well done HP…

        • Henrique Saraiva

          10/25/2010 at 5:39 am

          I’m a student, and I’m definitely getting one of these (in two months when I’ve saved up that is) even if HP doesn’t see a market in me.
          And personally, I don’t think the lack of OneNote is a major issue. Microsoft is selling Academic Professional for about $70 to students, so it’s relatively inexpensive (I bought a copy, and will be using my ‘mobile license’ on the Slate 500).

        • ChrisRS

          10/25/2010 at 6:12 am

          Brett and Henrique, I agree that this is a great unit for Students. With student pricing and mobile licences, MS software cost becomes non issue. This is probably the case for many business users as well; they will use this as a companion device and will be able to use a mobile license.

          I think HP calling this Businees only is a marketing ploy. This is a great machine for students, but if HP marketed it as such, it would be (more) harshly criticized for the UI and batttery life. As it is, students will have to discover the HP slate for themselves.

          The chances of seeing these at th Microsoft Store (ro BB, etc.) is very low since thsi is a Busi=ness unot. It is really too bad.

      • dstrauss

        10/24/2010 at 6:45 pm

        I agree Chris – an integrated solution with OneNote would be a killer product – I know I’ve soap-boxed to death around here, but the first time a student sees they search months worth of HANDWRITTEN notes (without any need to convert to text) there eyes pop out of their head! I’ve seen this first hand and as we all know, it is beyond amazing.

        I suppose HP is on the “outs” with Microsoft over the Palm acquisition and some of the WebOS trash talk about superiority on the tablets – it may be superior on multi-media, much like the iPad, but it gets its chops busted in the enterprise compared to the Slate.

  30. dstrauss

    10/25/2010 at 2:36 pm

    Folks – a little more information on the digitizer experience: Jamison Cush (editor of TabletPCreview.com) had the following comment about the active digitizer:

    “As for the Slate 500, I think the build is solid, the glossy display is impressive with none of the noticeable grain affecting other tablets, and my brief inking experience was superb. My handwriting is illegible at best, chicken scratch at worst, and still the Slate 500 rendered my characters and notes accurately, something I can’t say about the TouchSmart tm2t.”
    http://www.tabletpcreview.com/default.asp?newsID=1712&review=HP+slate+500+tablet+pc+windows+7

    On the student front – I know I heard the HP marketing director on one of those short demos she did all over the internet, mention education as one of the target vertical markets. Given Henrique’s comment above, maybe it doesn’t make sense to preload OneNote if students can get Academic Professional for $70. Here’s to hoping HP succeeds by going UNDER Steve’s reality distortion field!

  31. thewerewolf

    10/26/2010 at 2:11 am

    No one’s taken pictures of the powersupply and the special docking cable. I’ve already ordered one, but I hope HP makes replacement/spare pens, docks and chargers available. I’d like to have a dock at home and one at work and a spare cable/charger in my carry bag.

    • Gbm

      11/04/2010 at 4:24 pm

      Power supplies are already listed on the HP site. But I would like to have a second dock too: one for home and one for work. Maybe even a couple at home if they aren’t too expensive. And a car adapter too. I’m guessing since this is enterprise, the car adapter isn’t going to exist.

  32. dstrauss

    10/26/2010 at 4:19 am

    The website shows a small 40w power supply – supposedly the same as their 2210 netbook. I sure hope it sells well enough for third party support. Does anyone know where you can buy N-Trig pens and those AAAA batteries?

    • CStevens

      10/26/2010 at 6:18 am

      There are 6 AAA batteries inside a 9V battery. Check Google for disassembly instructions.

      • Anonymous

        10/26/2010 at 1:15 pm

        Or you can use Google to find AAAA batteries. Seriously, it may not be common but it’s still a standardized battery, not customized.

  33. dstrauss

    11/02/2010 at 2:30 pm

    Has anyone discovered what :1024 x 768 for some applications” means? Does this mean a virtual letterboxed display mode for applications (often installers) that MUST have 1024×768 to display all options onscreen?

    • Gbm

      11/04/2010 at 4:22 pm

      That could mean the screen is a 1024×600 window onto a 1024×768 virtual display. It scrolls when you mouse down to the edge. Not sure what that works for touch if you don’t use the virtual mouse, but it should work OK for using a pen.

      Or it could mean the program thinks it’s drawing on a 1024×768 screen, but it gets rescaled to 1024×600, which will squish everything and make edges slightly blurry, but will at least let certain dialogs display.

  34. dstrauss

    11/02/2010 at 2:30 pm

    Has anyone discovered what :1024 x 768 for some applications” means? Does this mean a virtual letterboxed display mode for applications (often installers) that MUST have 1024×768 to display all options onscreen?

  35. dstrauss

    11/04/2010 at 3:18 pm

    So – according to Warner’s Twitter info, HP will NOT give out review units to the press, stating its an enterprise unit to begin with…hmmmmmmmmmmmm…looks a little bit like a politician hiding from the press. I bought my HP 2730p based upon the review here at GBM…so that’s so much hooey.

    I guess they should expect to get a shellacking in the tech press for a dinosaur slate device…it’s just not as beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated as required for the Apple connoisseur palate. Guess I’s just a pedestrian Windows user who don’t know no better…

  36. dstrauss

    11/04/2010 at 3:20 pm

    PS – thank you and a big shout out for Xavier for bringing us the most really know about this diamond in the rough!

  37. dstrauss

    11/04/2010 at 6:36 pm

    The estimated shipping date (for orders today) has now slipped to 12/2/10 – anyone have any idea how many of these things they can manufacture per day?

  38. ab

    12/14/2010 at 5:21 pm

    No replaceable batteries.. I mean.. u junk the whole thing off after the batteries die out..?

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