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  1. #1

    Product Review: HP Slate Plus 4200US Tablet

    I've been swimming in the Android pool lately, and have paid special attention to budget tablets. The current acquisition is the HP Slate Plus 4200US Tablet mentioned in the thread Subject. Retailer MicroCenter has factory refurb units on sale for $50: (My local outlet is in Brooklyn, NY. I can't speak for availability at other MicroCenter stores. I was at MicroCenter for other reasons entirely, but couldn't resist the deal.)

    The Slate is low end by current standards, but quite usable. The attractions for me were the nVidia Tegra powered 1280x800 screen, and rear-facing 5MP camera. Effectively, I was getting a cheap but usable digital camera for $50 that also happens to be an Android tablet. (MicroCenter's specs say it's a 1024x600 screen, but an Android info app that examines the hardware says it's 1280x800, and I believe the app.)

    There's a quad-core 1.0 ghz ARM 7 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of flash, with 5GB available as application storage. It has Wifi abnd Bluetooth, but Bluetooh is turned off by default (likely as a battery saver move) and must be enabled in Settings. It also has a microSD card slot to add external storage, and is SDXC so it can take 64GB or larger cards.

    There is a female microUSB port you can use to attach to a system or power adapter. Unlike some other units, this one charges through the USB port, and does not have a separate power port. This is a mild annoyance, as I tend to plug in an external keyboard via USB, and have a keyboard case the tablet fits, but I can't do that and charge at the same time.

    A limitation is the Android version. This is an older device that shipped with 4.2 Jellybean, and is unlikely to get an upgrade. (HP has a KitKat upgrade for the Slate Extreme model, but not for this one.) If Jellybean meets your needs, this is not a problem, but if you need something added in a later version or simply like to keep current on Android, you need to look elsewhere.

    The device comes with an assortment of pre-installed applications, including Android Calendar, Clock, Contacts and Gallery apps, as well as Google Play Books, Movies and TV, Music and Newspapers and Magazines, and HP File Manager, Connected Photo, and ePrint apps. (Connected Photo has been replaced by the Snapchat app.) It also comes with Box Chrome, Kingsoft Office, Skype and YouTube. These are all installed as system apps, and can't be removed by standard uninstall if you don't want them. (They can be disabled in Settings.)

    Fortunately, rooting the device is trivial. Kingo Root, run from Windows and connected via USB, recognizes the device as an HP Slate, pushes the required exploit, roots it, and installs the Superuser root request broker the first time it's run. (I have another device that required trying several times before rooting succeeded.

    Unfortunately, Kingo is beginning to get annoying. Aside from rooting and pushing the Superuser app, they install an AliExpress shopping app and a "Super Battery" app you may not want. (I removed them here.) In addition, the Superuser app has expanded beyond being a root request broker, and wants to optimize the system for faster booting. It pops up a dialog box offering to do so every time you install an app. (You can neuter that in Superuser settings, and I did so. I also installed Chainfire's SuperSu app as a replacement root broker, and Superuser is likely to go away.)

    Much of the built-in stuff is a candidate for removal here. I have no use for the Google Play Books/Music/etc apps, nor the bundled HP apps. I do use Chrome and YouTube, and may use Box and Skype. I was fascinated by the inclusion of Kingsoft Office as the office suite. I use Kingsoft's WPS Office + PDF elsewhere, as the best of the free Android office suite products. I downloaded a current version and installed it alongside Kingsoft Office to compare the versions. WPS Office includes a PDF viewer, but that's not a concern. I use the open source MuPDF product instead.

    I'm still configuring and tweaking for performance, and exploring what's available as open source. for Android. One such is No-Frills CPU Control, which can overclock and underclock the CPU. No-Frills installed successfully, and lets me overclock the 1.0 ghz CPU to 1.3 ghz, as well as underclocking to save power when full speed is not required. I haven't run benchmarks yet, but it seems to be working as claimed.

    I'm looking at apps to utilize the camera, and am playing with the open source Focus and OpenCamera apps as replacements for the built-in Camera application, the open source A Phota Manager app as a replacement for the stock Gallery app, and the open source Effects Pro app as a post processing option for photos.

    Overall, I'm pleased thus far. It was certainly worth the $50, and adds some useful capabilities to my kit.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Los Angeles

    Google Pixel C
    Well the HP Slate is really good tablet, but I think it has quite outdated operating system. Means users won't get access to new features. Nowadays tablets under 100 are offering atleast 5.0 Lollipop which is not so old I would recommend Samsung Galaxy Tab A which offers Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by clayjensen View Post
    Well the HP Slate is really good tablet, but I think it has quite outdated operating system. Means users won't get access to new features. Nowadays tablets under 100 are offering atleast 5.0 Lollipop which is not so old I would recommend Samsung Galaxy Tab A which offers Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system.
    Fair enough, but the question is how much you care about the OS version. I do wish HP pushed updates, but I can live with Android 4.2.

    This is a tablet, not a phone. It is seldom online, and when it is, it's usually to check for app updates from the Play Store, and done from my home. The usual concern is security, and that's simply not a concern here.

    Newer Android versions add features, but may take away previous capabilities. There was a lot of unhappiness over 5.0 Lollipop, for example, because of changes made to add security that broke things like file managers. External storage is usually in the form of a microSD card, and those come formatted as FAT32 or exFAT. FAT file systems have no place to store the metadata that provides security on an app or file level, and prior to Lollipop, any app could see any part of the card. To provide more security, Lollipop restricted access to the card to only directories owned and created by the application accessing the card. File managers need to see the entire card to do what they do, and had problems.

    I have another device with Lollipop and haven't had huge problems, but I have ne reason to always want the latest Android version. My devices are normally used stand alone, accessing files stored locally. While I can do email, browse the web, and access data on the cloud, I normally don't. My concern is "Will the version of Android I run on the device support the apps I want to use and allow me to use the device for the intended purposes?" If it will, I'm fine. Updates are nice but not required.

    For the price, the Slate was a steal, and I've been delighted. You can find decent devices for $100 with Lollipop or better. You are unlikely to find them for $50 with the hardware and capabilities the Slate has.

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