That’s right, the honeymoon’s over and I’m making my Slate 7 help me clean house and make dinner. It’s keeping me on schedule and on task. What, you thought I was going to ask it for a divorce? NO WAY!
Price, Expectations, Purpose
I personally think that the Slate 7 tablet, at $169, is a great deal. What it is not – what it is not designed to be – is a high-end gaming machine, a workstation, an executive’s business tablet, a large-screen all-in-one, or a phone.
Several times, recently, I’ve been told, “You can’t have it all.” That just gets my hackles up and makes me ask, “Why?”
Well, for one thing, I can’t stick a large, flat-screen TV in my pocket, and I don’t want to lug around a phone that’s as big as a large, flat-screen TV. I don’t need a car that makes toast (even though it’s entirely possible to cook an egg on the hood, here in Houston, in August). A car that lets me access Facebook while I’m driving is probably A Really Bad Idea™. So the Slate 7 can’t do all these things, but that’s okay by me.
That’s it – I’ve ditched the paper, saved the trees. I’ve held out for years, faithfully updating my Franklin Covey planner. Call me old-fashioned; there is something satisfying about writing the day’s events and tasks on paper with a fountain pen. But with inflammation in my rotator cuff, I’ve had to take a hard look at what I carry around in my backpack, daily. My HP Slate 7 integrates my work and personal calendars into one view, almost automagically. It shows me my current Outlook and Google Calendars, as well as Google Tasks – now accessible from the Slate 7, my Windows 8 phone, my desktop at home, my notebook at work – and that’s enough to save me $43.95 at the Franklin Covey store.
I’ve also added the FlyHelper app to help me cut through the CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). More on that in a month or so, once it’s had a fair chance to break me of my bad habits.
Slate 7 Organization Tip
Did you know that you could create folders on your Home pages? Just tap, hold, and drag one app on top of another to group them. Then, tap the newly created folder, tap “Unnamed Folder,” and type a name for it. The Games folder is shown in its open state, in the screenshot to the left. Closed folders include Reading, Fitness, Radio & Sound, and Video (which doesn’t have a title, since it was still “Unnamed Folder” when I took this screenshot).
The Wallpaper image is a gorgeous photo of the Fimmvörðuhálsi eruption of 2010, by the talented Icelandic photographer, Christopher Lund. You can download low res, watermarked versions of some of his amazing images, if you visit his site.
I have a nook from Barnes & Noble, and I love it. It feels terribly decadent to shop for new books from under the covers at midnight. But what I love about it, as an avid reader, is its non-glare, E Ink display. What I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t let me read Amazon books, and Kindle doesn’t read ePub, and I’m about ready to go buy some more paper books to fill my library and to heck with their turf wars. But wait! Both have apps. Free apps!! I can read Kindle or Nook books, both, on one device – my Slate 7! I can do this on my phone or PC, too, of course – but it’s convenient and pleasant to do it on the Slate 7. I’m currently carrying my Slate 7 in a slightly-too-large nook case – it’s a bit wide, but not too deep and the elastic holds it nice and snug. Savings? Well, not having to buy more bookshelves – priceless, at least according to my husband. Not having to buy a separate Kindle and a new nook? Well, I wasn’t going to – but arguably $114 or more.
“I’m not going to play games on this thing.” Famous last words. Damn Spheres. It’s a game I’m convinced you can never win – those little billiard balls are literally spawn of the devil. It’s easy enough – group six balls of one color together to remove them from the board, and keep doing that until the board fills up and you run out of moves. Move one, and four pop up to take its place. My high score, so far, is in the low 500s. I think that’s a fluke. My average is probably something like 120. Got any tips?
I can watch YouTube videos (something else my son enjoys sharing with me from time to time – we’re both fans of Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series, among other things) and although flash doesn’t seem to work on Android devices, there are movies and TV shows available through Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV, or Hulu Plus, not to mention you can load your own videos on a microSD card and play them.
The Slate 7 comes with the Play Music app already loaded, so you can add your iTunes library, store your music on your microSD card, or buy it through Google Play – and it’s all easily accessible. For streaming music, I like Spotify, and have been a Spotify Premium member for about a year, now.
The Beats Audio really shines when you pair the Slate 7 with some decent earbuds, like my Bassbuds, or a headset, like the Turtle Beach Ear Force M5 Mobile Gaming Headset. (I’ve got both, and they’re amazing. I cannot recommend the earbuds for their mic – just the sound, but the mic on the Turtle Beach headset works perfectly.)
In addition to music, check out vintage episodes of CBS Radio Mystery Theater on Great Old Time Radio (you can listen using the tunein radio app). If you were wondering what inspired my childhood love of Edgar Allan Poe, it was episode 57 – the first time “Fall of the House of Usher” made any sense at all to me!
Amazon Prime Instant Video
This is one thing I miss on the Slate 7. Amazon Prime Instant Video requires Adobe Flash. Android and Flash… nope. (Well, in theory, it CAN be done; I just haven’t found a way to make it work – yet.) C’mon, Amazon – there must be another way! Maybe it’s just one of those things I’ll have to use my laptop or all-in-one for, after all.
Ability to load and watch a movie on a flight or car trip? Priceless. It’s not IMAX, but no one wants to carry an IMAX screen in their purse. With a few highly addictive games and a microSD card loaded up with movies and music, it’s a great boredom alleviator. My husband won’t be too disappointed that I’m not gabbing non-stop next time we’re in the car – after all, I won’t be criticizing his choice of music or snoring in the passenger seat.
A Note on “Incompatible” Apps
The safest thing to do is to always load new apps from the Google Play Store, and steer clear of any that appear to have fallen off the back of a beat-up van with mud-covered license plates. But now and then, you’ll find an app you want and the developer has “required” a feature, such as GPS, that is not available on the tablet (lack of GPS is the #1 reason for app incompatibility that I’ve found, so far, with Slate 7 – and honestly, many of us prefer not to use the geolocation features on blogging, news, or photo apps, anyway).
If you have an Android phone, or a friend with one, try using APK Extractor on the supported device. Send the apk file to your GMail account and load it on the Slate 7. (This way, you know that the apk came from the app on the Google Play Store and didn’t fall off a truck.) If it needs additional files, these will get downloaded from Google Play when you try to run the app, so it may take a bit more time to fully install. I haven’t found one app, yet, that doesn’t run – so provided you don’t care much about the truly unsupported features of the app (hello, Instagram and WordPress!) you may be able to run it just fine.
Assuming that works and you’re happy with the result, I’d suggest taking just a moment to email the developer of your favorite “incompatible” apps, and asking them to provide an official, compatible release for the Slate 7 (for any tablet without the so-called “required” features). At least one app developer I talked to was surprised that it was showing up there as “incompatible” and sent me a direct link to the official apk outside of the Google Play Store.
Yes, I work for HP. But I am also a customer, and this is my personal opinion – which was not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by my employer. It doesn’t reflect anyone’s opinions but my own – and if you know me at all, you know I’m very opinionated. 😉 I’m not in marketing, engineering, or customer support – although I do volunteer time to help fellow customers out in the HP Forums and get to call myself an Expert. Be sure to drop by on May 8 – there will be 250+ Experts on board for the next official HP Expert Day event.