HP Slate 7 vs. Google Nexus 7: An affordable tablet comparison

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: April 26, 2013

For this article I’m going to step away from PhoneDog and instead write on behalf of it’s edgier cousin, TabletDog.

Earlier today HP launched what you might call its "answer" to the Google Nexus 7 – the HP Slate 7. Our own Aaron Baker picked up this device back during MWC 2013 and briefly went over his first impressions of the device, but now with it's official release we finally get to see exactly what the device entails in regards to specs and overall comparison to the Nexus 7.

The first thing any person should notice is the price point – the HP Slate 7 sells for $169, which might make it a winner in itself to people who are looking for a relatively cheap tablet, although a $30 difference isn’t a whole lot when it comes to pricing when compared to the Nexus 7 which starts at $199. Also, in regards to a lower price point you have to expect compromises when it comes to features in the device. I will say overall the tablet has some impressive features that the Nexus 7 doesn’t, but these features might not necessarily be appealing to everybody, especially considering the specs are probably the biggest compromise of them all.

Let’s take a closer look at how these two tablets compare.

Both the Slate 7 and the Nexus 7 are pretty self-explanatory regarding the size of the device – they're 7-inch tablets. The Slate 7 has a resolution of 1024 x 600, which is lower than the Nexus 7’s 1280 x 800. In layman's terms, the Nexus 7 is considered an HD device while the Slate 7 is not, which is something many people might take into consideration.

The next thing we’ll look at is the material the housing is made out of on both devices. The overall housing design of the Slate 7 could be appealing to those who are more interested in a device made of material other than plastic, seeing as HP decided to go with metal siding and matte back as oppose to the Nexus 7’s plastic and texturized housing. However, despite the material difference in the Slate 7 and the Nexus 7 there isn’t a whole lot of difference in weight.  

Aside from the matte finish on the back of the Slate 7, you’ll also notice two more differences between it and the Nexus 7: First, it features a rear-facing camera - something that not all tablets take advantage of. The rear-facing camera on the Slate 7 is a 3-megapixel shooter. While it’s not quite up to par with tablets like the Apple iPad Mini or the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, which both feature 5-megapixel shooters, it’s still nothing to sneeze at considering the Nexus 7 doesn’t feature a rear-facing camera at all. The second thing you will notice is that it has the Beats Audio logo on the bottom, which seemed to be something primarily seen in HTC devices up until now.

When it comes to memory the Slate 7 only comes in an 8 GB variant, but fortunately HP has also supplied the tablet with an external SD card slot that can hold up to 32 GB of expandable memory. This is another bonus that the Slate 7 has over the Nexus 7 (considering the 32GB Nexus 7 costs $299) but still may not be enough to make up for what all the Nexus 7 entails for just $30 more.

The internals of the tablets are where the Nexus 7 shines. While both tablets have 1GB of RAM, the Nexus 7 takes the cake when it comes to processors as it runs on an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, which trumps the Slate 7’s dual-core 1.6 GHz processor. You can expect the Nexus 7 to run a lot more smoothly than the Slate 7 would.

You also have to take into account that while HP decided to skin Android so lightly that it’s almost like using vanilla Android, it’s not a true stock Android experience like the Nexus 7 can give you. With the Nexus 7 you can expect faster updates straight from Google, not to mention that it’s already running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) as oppose to the Slate 7 which is currently running out of the box on Android 4.1 (also Jelly Bean, but not the latest version). The Nexus line will always be first to receive the latest updates from Google, which is part of what makes it such a steal at just $199, especially for developers.

Battery life is another important aspect when it comes to tablets, and the Nexus 7 wins again by claiming to run for about 8.5 hours off of a full charge while the Slate 7 claims to only be able to hold a 5 hour charge – that’s a pretty big difference, especially for those expecting to use a tablet while travelling. However, even the Slate 7 can outshine other travel-friendly gadgets like netbooks, which tend to only last 3-4 hours on a full charge.

Overall I think that the HP Slate 7 is a decent tablet for the price, and it does contribute some features that consumers might deem it worthy of purchasing over the Nexus 7. However, I still feel in the end it would have done better off if HP had priced it a little lower, maybe somewhere in the $100-$130 range – this way if a user decided to purchase a microSD card to make up for the small amount of memory, the cost would still probably end up being cheaper than the Nexus 7. I think that the Nexus 7 is a better deal altogether, and as long as having expandable memory or a camera isn’t that important to you in a tablet then you would find that you would have a much smoother and pure Android experience for only $30 more.

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