HP is the latest tech company to bet that tablets can thrive in the workplace.
With Microsoft reporting that sales revenue from its productivity-oriented Surface tablets had grown 44 per cent, this makes sense.
But the HP Pro Slate 12 runs Android, not Windows like the Surface tablets. So, HP's more likely rival is the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro.
Released over a year ago, the 12-inch Note Pro comes with an impressive suite of apps built to work with its S Pen stylus. It also has a multi-window feature that lets users run multiple apps side by side.
The HP does have a unique feature. It converts your handwritten notes to digital form on the fly.
The key here is the bundled Duet Pen stylus with a double-ended tip - rubber and ballpoint. The rubber one works like any tablet stylus. Tap it to interact with the device and it works with any app that supports stylus input.
To use the ballpoint end ($30 for a pack of five), pull out the tip, reverse it and re-insert into the stylus. It is the ballpoint tip that is the innovative feature. Write or draw with this tip on a sheet or stack of paper placed right beside the left edge of the tablet. Whatever you write will be mirrored on the tablet screen.
By no means is it perfect. My tiny digitised scrawl was not always legible, but it may work for you. I tested it using HP's own note-taking app, but it is compatible with other apps such as Kingsoft WPS Office.
Complementing this is the HP Paper Folio ($169), a case that aligns and holds your A4-size sheet of paper with the tablet screen so that your writing is accurately reproduced in digital form and neatly aligned with the screen.
The HP tablet is slim but, at 850g, weighs more than the Surface Pro 3 (800g) or Galaxy Note Pro (750g).
As I am used to high-resolution screens, I was slightly disappointed with the HP's 1,600 x 1,200-pixel display. It isn't as sharp as a full-HD screen. But the viewing angles are excellent and the screen's 4:3 aspect ratio is suitable for productivity apps.
The HP supports Play-Fi technology, which lets you stream audio from the tablet to multiple speakers in your home. Think of it as a Sonos competitor.
I was, however, unable to try it as I do not own Harman Kardon, Polk Audio or other compatible speakers.
Out of the box, the HP runs the latest Android 5.0 operating system. Battery life is very good. The tablet lasted 10 hrs 15 mins in our test. But it takes a long time to charge fully.
A tablet for the workplace with a unique stylus that may appeal to those who prefer writing on paper.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (2.3GHz)
Display: 12.3 inches, 1,600 x 1,200 pixels
Camera: 8 megapixels (rear), 2 megapixels (front)
Storage: 32GB, microSD expandability up to 32GB
Battery: 37 watt-hour
Valur for money 3/5
Battery life 5/5
This article was first published on May 6, 2015.
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