HP's new printer tablet is not the “Slate” you're looking for, but it does lend a pinch of crazy to a tablet market that will soon get pretty crowded.
The HP tablet measures 7 inches and, according to a couple of reports, is based on Android. But in view of its custom interface and lack of support for third-party apps, to call it an Android tablet seems disingenuous. Instead, apps like Facebook, Google Maps, weather, and an e-reader powered by Barnes & Noble are preloaded on the device.
The tablet's main hook, however, is its inclusion with HP's Photosmart eStation printer. As Laptop Mag points out in a video of the tablet, all the apps were included with printing in mind, with the exception of a music player. Although the tablet can be detached from the printer and used outside the home, it's mainly supposed to be a way to look up information, print it out, and take it with you.
Which raises the question: why? Maybe it's just me, but I hardly use my printer anymore, largely because of smartphones and tablets. Why print a map when you can load it on a smartphone and get turn-by-turn voice guidance? Why print out long documents when you can just read and edit them on a tablet?
I will concede that the idea of using a tablet to browse and print Facebook photos is alluring, but ideally all tablets should be able to handle tasks like that, regardless of the printer brand. Apple's iPad, for example, will get a wireless printing feature in its next operating system update.
Still, at $399, the HP Photosmart eStation printer is cheaper than an iPad, even if it's less versatile. The comparison might not be fair, but it's all we've got from HP until the company's WebOS and Windows tablets arrive.