In a world that is currently dominated by Samsung tablets, the Nexus range and Apple's iPads, it is nice to see another decent contender hit the market in the form of the HP Slate 7 HD.
Packing an HD resolution and two years' worth of 3G data into an affordable price tag gives the Slate 7 HD something to shout about.
Of course, the 'free' 3G data is enticing. Often, this can cost the earth so to see it bundled in free with a tablet is a very refreshing approach and one that I'd like to see come as standard with more tablets.
Whilst not enough to cover streaming of movies or Spotify, it is more than enough to cover basic web browsing and the odd email on the morning commute.
The inclusion of Beats Audio is another area that gives the HP Slate 7 HD something to shout about.
It adds another dimension when listening to movies and music through headphones, and helps make the external speakers loud.
A 2MP front facing camera was also a good call from HP, recognising the importance of the forward facing sensor on a tablet. I'd have preferred it if the bigger 5MP sensor was on the front, but the 2MP provides a clear picture that is ideal for video calls with the included Skype app.
Despite coming in with a low price tag, the HP Slate 7 HD still feels underpowered. Day to day use might be fine, as is web browsing, but as soon as you throw a large download its way or try to play a graphically intensive game the whole tablet feels stuttery.
The design also leaves a lot to be desired. Screen size is becoming less important on modern tablets, with a lot of the focus now being on just how much of the front of the device is taken up by the screen.
We feel that HP has got the ratio wrong on the 7 HD with too much black bezel, making the screen feel smaller and the whole tablet feel cheaper.
Finally, the positioning of the external speakers and buttons is also really poor. I found it hard to hit the rear-placed buttons, often having to turn the Slate 7 HD over in order to find the buttons that sit flush to the back case, and the external speaker on the bottom is really disorientating when you're holding it.
In all, the HP Slate 7 HD is a bit of a mixed tablet. The inclusion of free data will undoubtedly prove a massive draw in this data-oriented world, and it is something that's really hard to ignore, especially
if you spend a lot of time on the morning commute.
Unfortunately, that's about where the praise stops for the Slate 7 HD, as it struggles to compete with even some of the cheapest tablets of the market.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3, Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX, even Tesco's Hudl, all prove that you can get a lot of bang for your buck.
If a cheap 3G connection is all-important then you can't go wrong with HP's offering, although for anyone who spends a lot of their time at home or at work connected to a Wi-Fi connection it would be wise to look elsewhere.
First reviewed March 2014