Google made a dent in the seven-inch tablet market, and, despite Microsoft’s decision to forgo a 7-inch or 8-inch Surface Mini tablet at its Surface Pro 3 announcement this week, HP knows that the 7-inch market is as en vogue as 8-inch tablets are with consumers. The key with any small, portable tablet is affordability: will it break the bank?
Have no fear: HP’s new 7-inch tablet will do nothing of the sort. Dubbed the HP7 Plus, HP’s newest slate comes with a 7-inch display with a 1024 x 600 screen resolution, 2MP rear-facing camera and 0.3MP front-facing camera, a quad-core, ARM Cortex A7 processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB of internal memory storage with a microSD card slot for additional memory storage up to 32GB, a 2,800mAh battery, with a micro-USB 2.0 port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a mono speaker. The HP7 Plus will run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.
Keep in mind that we’re looking at a $100 tablet here, so one must understand that with a budget price come some compromises. The mono speaker on the HP7 Plus is a given when looking at a budget tablet, as well as the front and rear-facing cameras. 2MP cameras have become somewhat standard on high-end smartphones (the exception being the HTC One M8’s 5MP front camera), but, if you’ve seen the poor camera quality of the HTC One M8’s 4MP “UltraPixel” camera, you’re likely to be less than impressed with the 2MP back camera on the HP7 Plus. Still, the device runs a quad-core processor, so you’re likely to have enough speed on the device to do all the basic things you want to do, like check emails, listen to music, and even play some games from the Google Play Store. Yes, all the Google givens are here: Google Play, Google Play Music, Gmail, Google+, G+ Photos, YouTube, Hangouts, and so on.
The microSD card slot is a nice touch with the 8GB of internal memory storage, so you should’ve enough storage on this device (not to mention Google Drive’s cloud storage) to help you store all the photos and documents you need. At the same time, the 8GB will likely be reduced to 5GB or so due to Google’s Android OS, and some apps occupy 1GB or more when they’re first installed. When downloading, proceed with caution. An excellent idea with the HP7 Plus would be to listen to your music in Google Play Music instead of trying to download it all onto your device.
The micro-USB 2.0 port is also excellent, and you shouldn’t expect to get a USB 3.0 experience with this budget slate. There are two other modest compromises in the HP7 Plus: the 1024 x 600 screen resolution and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. The 1024 x 600 screen resolution is far from stellar, and Google’s 2013 Nexus 7 has full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution in a seven-inch frame. Apple’s 7.9-inch iPad Mini has a whopping 2048 x 1536 screen resolution – an incredible feat in a small package. At the same time, however, the 2013 Nexus 7 will set you back $229 (twice as much as the HP7 Plus) and the Retina iPad Mini will set you back about $399 unless you buy the first-generation iPad Mini (sans Retina). For about 25% of the price of the iPad Mini, you’re getting a tablet that allows you to not only save on budget, but also provides 2.5 times the memory storage of the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini provides only 16GB of memory storage, but the HP7 Plus (with the microSD slot) gives you 40GBs of internal storage.
The hardest hit to the HP7 Plus comes with its 2,800mAh battery, which isn’t quite on par with Google’s Nexus 7 tablet (3,900mAh). HP says on its website that you’ll only get 5.5 hours of battery life with the 7 Plus, not sufficient for most individuals who want to get through a least a workday without having to plug the battery into a USB port or wall socket. Google’s Nexus 7 promises 9 hours of battery life, and Apple has promised around 10 hours of battery life for its iPad Mini. Again, budget tablet brings budget compromises.
As for the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean update that comes with the HP7 Plus, it’s sufficient for most users – although we think Android 4.4 KitKat should be owned by everyone. There’s little difference between Android 4.2.2 and 4.3 Jelly Bean, but there are some important differences between Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and Android 4.4 KitKat such as cloud printing and setting Google Hangouts as your default messaging app, not to mention the new white-icon layout that replaces the blue icons of Android updates gone by.
In short, the HP7 Plus is an excellent tablet with an excellent budget. For just $100, you get more storage than either Google’s Nexus 7 or Apple’s iPad Mini. Battery life should be okay considering the decent screen resolution and quad-core processor packed inside the 7-inch HP tablet. If storage and the basic capabilities of Android matter to you above screen resolution, tablet cameras, and timely updates, the HP7 Plus is about the best tablet you can get for your money.