The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Has iPad met its Match? Maybe Not (yet)

Review: HP Slate 500 Hits the Market

Although the iPad has a strong foothold in the tablet market, its shortcomings are well-documented. Simple things such as the lack of a USB port, inability to play Flash movies, less-than-desirable Microsoft Office file handling, and a general sense of incompatibility in an otherwise PC-dominant world, may be what other tablets need to get into the game.

I have an iPad, and I really enjoy it. However, I’m not a fanatic – you won’t find me standing in line for hours on a cold, rainy day, hoping to get into the Apple Store before they run out of their limited supply of the next iPad. It’s a great tool/toy for everything you can use it for.

I also realize that for anything I need to do on my iPad, I might have to spend another $9.99 to get yet another app. I’ll bet there are plenty of folks with more money invested in apps than they have in actual software. And, at its best, an app is generally only a very task-specific piece of software – as opposed to a total solution. When compared as a percentage of cost vs. capability, I would expect that the money, time spent researching and cobbling together several apps that can be used to accomplish most of what one software application can, and then factoring in the time spent for organization, customization and mastery of each individual app, it could far outweigh the cost of PC-based (or Mac) software.

I received an email this morning, offering the new HP Slate 500 for $799. Order today, ships today. Okay, so what’s the difference between this and the iPad, or how does it compare to a Netbook, and will it run “real” software?

The first thing that impressed me is the fact that it is running on Windows 7. This means that as long as there are enough memory, drive space and processing power, I can run my actual software applications, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, QuickBooks, etc. Since the Slate has a Solid State Hard Drive (and a standby button), boot-up times will be much better than on a typical PC. Even though the iPad has the “instant-on” feature which I love, an operating system that allows me to use my normal software: Advantage – Slate

Flash video is one of most common formats on the web today. iPad still won’t handle it. Advantage - Slate

The next good news I discovered is the Slate has a USB port. Why on Earth does the second iteration of the iPad still not have a USB port? That one tiny interface can really open many new horizons. The Slate also features an SD card port. Advantage - Slate

The battery life appears to be around 4.5 hours (estimated 2 or 3 hours less than the iPad). My laptop (in low power mode) can get me nearly home on a coast-to-coast flight already. I would expect a tablet to handle that, and then some. Advantage – iPad.

Both devices are around the same size, and the same weight.

The Slate does not have a cooling fan, which saves power. According to reviews, however, the unit gets very hot, making it uncomfortable to hold, and even to the point of making the case smell as if it is melting. Lawsuit filed against Apple for iPad overheating in direct sunlight notwithstanding, Advantage – iPad.

Both the iPad 2 and Slate feature front (for videoconferencing) and rear (for recording) cameras. The first version of the iPad has no camera.

HP includes a docking station for the Slate, which adds a great deal of connectivity. This allows you to use Windows dual-screen mode. It also includes a stylus and cover. Advantage - Slate

If you will be doing presentations, the iPad has an adapter available to connect to VGA or HDMI. Although the Slate dock features an HDMI port, it would be another piece of hardware to carry. However, a little research turned up a nice solution, which will allow you to connect to a monitor via your USB port: DisplayLink. HP also sells a DisplayLink device for $99, which gives you all you need in a portable hub. Advantage - iPad (since you only need a cable, not a portable hub - unless you have a USB input port on your projector).

Wireless connectivity is similar, in that both the iPad and Slate feature Bluetooth and WiFi. Slate does not offer a 3G Broadband option, so although you can easily use a wireless hub or tether your phone, Advantage – iPad.

The touchpad and keypad interface of the iPad is superior to that of Windows 7. Although it works, users felt that both the touchpad and stylus features of the Slate could use improvement. Advantage – iPad.

The display of the iPad is said to be sharper and clearer than the Slate. I would expect both to improve significantly, once HD displays are added to both. Advantage – iPad.

If you are hopelessly linked to the Windows platform, and want the next cool thing, the Slate is worth looking at. If you prefer something that has been tested and proven, the iPad still rules. There are also a number of Android tablets beginning to hit the market, but they will start with a disadvantage in both the operating system of the Slate, and the large market share and app collection of the iPad.

So, for now, I’m going to hang with my iPad and laptop. I think tablets such as the Slate will make headway over the next year or two, but there are still some things that need to be ironed out before they get the attention of the marketplace. I read just the other day that Microsoft had really missed the boat on the tablet game. With a little help from HP and other tablet manufactures, and with some added attention to the Windows touchpad interface, they may be on their way shortly.

Ted Brooks
213-798-6608 Los Angeles
415-291-9900 San Francisco

Trial Consulting Network


  1. More and more Windows tablets are being released. And we've all been reading of rumors of Microsoft's work on the future "tablet optimized" Windows 8.

    If you're tempted to buy a Windows tablet now, check out this new Acer Iconia tablet with detachable keyboard doc, starting at only $549:

  2. You said the docking station was optional. That is NOT correct, it is included. The dock has 2 more USB ports and an HDMI out which allows you to run the slate in dual monitor mode. I have a dock at home and an extra dock at work allowing me to use the Slate as my desktop (Full size monitor, keyboard and mouse) at work and at home. When I want a portable tablet, it lifts out of the dock and off i go.

    The Slate's 2nd monitor can be 1920x1080, and I find it handy to have a tablet when i need it a desktop all in the same system.

    You should consider changing the Display to "Advantage – Slate"

  3. Thank you for pointing out that the docking station is included. That is a real plus. I've updated the article to reflect that point.

  4. You mention the iPad has a special cable for an external display. Is this included in the purchase price or does it cost extra? Also there are many USB to display device adaptors.

    This particular slate may not have 3g but a large number of other Windows OS tablets do. Also with the standard USB port you can simply connect a usb 3g modem.

    With the touch interface issue; again the inclusion of a USB port allows for a keyboard and mouse to be connected. With Bluetooth onboard there are wireless options aswell.

    Your closing statement seems to negate a lot of things you stated about the slates downfall. Needing extra docks or connectors or adaptors seemed to show the slate in a bad light but with an iPad you still need a whole extra computer. A slate or "real tablet" (not a novelty device like the ipad) can be used as your only computer because it is just that, a computer.

    Don't like windows? Don't use it. Stick Linux on your tabled instead. You now actually have a choice what you do with your device and how you use it.

  5. The iPad external display cable is not included – it is an option.

    Yes, other tablets have 3G, but this one does not. You could use a USB broadband device, or an external hub, as mentioned. It’s just a nice option to have available with the device.

    Indeed, there are options to add keyboards, mice, etc., via Bluetooth or USB. However, in order to function with the portability and convenience of a tablet, it also needs to work well without them.

    Although I would disagree that the iPad is nothing more than a “novelty device,” I will add that I expect the (full OS) Windows-based tablets to become the real competitor to the iPad.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m NOT a Windows or PC hater. Quite the contrary – my business and livelihood depend on them. However, a few key things (with the Slate) keep me from trying another tablet at this point:

    Overheating issues – Read the user feedback reports – Reminds me of my first laptops.

    Battery life – If it won’t run longer than my laptop, why bother? Apple has set the bar with 8-10 hours of battery life.

    Touchpad & Stylus – It’s not quite there yet, at least not in comparison with the iPad. Microsoft is rumored to be working on the interface.

    Of the devices I’ve looked at, the HP Slate looks to be one of the best alternatives to the iPad. Get these things fixed, and I’ll be in line to try one – as will scores of others.

  6. How is that the same size and weight? Are you comparing to the iPad1 or iPad2?

    Your complaints about software cost for iPads are laughable. Yes, the Slate can take "real" software, like the full MS Office suite, but you state this after complaining about $10 iPad apps? You can buy a LOT of free-to-$15 iPad apps for the cost of one copy of MS Office. I don't think I own a single full-blown PC that has not ended up with far more money invested in software than for the entire PC. To contrast, to date I have spent less than $100 on apps... apps which run on my iPad, my iPhone, my wife's iPad, and my wife's iPhone, all included for the same purchase price.

    You can certainly argue about the effectiveness of the "lesser" apps compared to the full versions of the software, but for goodness sake, don't be absurd and complain about the PRICE.

  7. Weighing in at around 1.5 lbs., and with an 8.9” display, it's roughly (not exactly) in the same size & weight class as the iPad, as opposed to a larger or smaller device.

    My comment about the true cost of apps also considers the fact that one needs to do the research to find which one of a number of possible apps might be best for a given task, then getting and learning it. Wash, rinse, repeat -- for each task you wish to accomplish. If you have a lot of apps, that becomes something else to manage.

    I will agree that the overall cost in dollars will probably be greater with Windows software, but then, so will the capabilities, and assuming you are already running the software on other computers, there will be a minimal (if any) learning curve.

    Also, if you really wanted to avoid spending a lot of money on a full office suite, if you’re running Windows, you could get a version with the basics (Home and Student, $150), or even run OpenOffice (free). Granted, still more than Documents to Go Premium ($16.99, which I own), but quite a bit more power. There are also a few apps with a higher price point, such as Black’s Law Dictionary and TrialPad. Not that they’re not worth it, but they’re not $9.99.

    I think it will boil down to whether you view the tablet as a real tool that might replace a computer, or a toy, that will require an additional real computer for real work.

    Thanks for the comments – they are very helpful. I find myself being forced to defend both the iPad and the HP! This next year should be interesting.

  8. This entire topic is predicated on the notion that a tablet can, or should, be usable as a desktop/laptop replacement. This is nonsense. Tablets are an entirely different class of device that entails a totally different usage paradigm. Tablets are not intended for running desktop apps, nor making AV presentations, any more than cellphones and MP3 players are. If you want to carry your desktop around with you wherever you go, then get a laptop.

    And stop trying to make any one device, such as a tablet, become an "all-in-one", do-everything platform (eg, desktop, mobile).

  9. Actually the all-in-one is the ultimate objective. I want my light tablet to get me access to everything I need, from high quality multimedia to business/corporate tools. So, the HP Slate 500 is a good start but I will wait for the next gen to include GPS and better processor and touch screen performance. I will also keep my laptop and iPad for now...