No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had - Samuel Johnson
BARCELONA: PC MAKER HP unveiled the Slate Voicetab 6 earlier this year, and at Mobile World Congress (MWC) the firm announced that it will release the device in the UK.
HP is touting the Slate Voicetab 6 as a "voice-enabled" tablet to market the device to those looking for more than a smartphone. However, during our time with the device, it became clear that the Slate Voicetab 6 is really a phablet, offering little more than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Sony Xperia Z Ultra, for example.
However, with a price set at £199, the HP Slate Voicetab 6 is much cheaper than the competition, so we spent a little hands-on time with the device to see how it stacks up against its rivals.
The design of the HP Slate Voicetab 6 certainly stands out from the crowd, with HP making the device available in six different colours - pink, purple, green, blue, white and grey. We got our hands on the bright pink model, which although unlikely to appeal to many, will definitely get heads turning.
Despite HP marketing the device as a tablet, the Slate Voicetab 6 isn't bulky, measuring 8.6mm thick and weighing 160g. While we did struggle to operate the device comfortably with one hand, the Slate Voicetab 6 is a pleasant device to use and is much lighter than similarly sized devices such as the Nokia Lumia 1320.
The HP Slate Voicetab 6 does feel a little cheap, however, which is perhaps not surprising when its price is considered. It is built predominantly out of plastic with metal trim around the edges, and it feels like it might not withstand many accidental drops and tumbles.
The HP Slate Voicetab 6 features a 6in 720x1280 resolution IPS display, and we were pleasantly surprised by its quality. When compared to the HD 1080p screen on the HTC One Max, for example, it's clear that text isn't quite as sharp and images are slightly less crisp. However, we have no major complaints. The IPS technology means it offers wide viewing angles, and the handset also coped well under the bright lights of MWC.
Performance and software
Under the hood, the HP Slate Voicetab 6 has a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, and while this means it's not the highest specification phablet on the market, we were impressed by its overall performance. We opened a game on the device, and gameplay was smooth without any stuttering, while flicking through menus and opening apps was also smooth.
We were slightly let down by the fact that the Slate Voicetab 6 runs Google's Android 4.3 Jelly Bean mobile operating system, with HP unable to commit to an update to Android 4.4 Kitkat. However, HP has barely put its mark on Google's mobile operating system, which means that the device offers a thoroughly vanilla Android experience, without a custom skin or a lot of unnecessary apps.
HP has added a few of its own apps, though. These include HP Connected Photo, which allows users to sync photos to the cloud, HP's WiFi printer service and HP Datapass - a bonus that offers 250MB of free 3G every month.
The HP Slate Voicetab 6 features an HD webcam on the front, along with a 5MP rear-facing camera with autofocus and LED flash.
We gave the camera a quick spin at MWC, and we weren't overly impressed. With HP defining the device as a tablet, it seems to have cut back on the camera, no doubt to keep the price of the device low. We found it lacking when compared to the competition, struggling to handle the bright lights of the showroom and taking images that were often fuzzy and lacking in detail.
The HP Slate Voicetab 6 is somewhat of a confused device, but we think that at £199 it could help HP re-enter the mobile device market.
While its camera is somewhat lacking, the Slate Voicetab 6 delivers smooth performance, a good screen and a largely vanilla Android user interface. There's also 16GB of internal storage expandable via microSD card, support for HSDPA and WiFi connectivity and a 3,000mAh battery, which we'll be sure to test in our full review. µ
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