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Imaging, Performance Benchmarks and Conclusion
The Slate 7 Extreme is easily one of the most powerful 7-inch tablets in the market with the NVIDIA Tegra 4 quad-core 1.96GHz processor and 1GB RAM.
The other Tegra 4-powered devices that we've reviewed are the ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T, Toshiba Excite Write and the HP Slatebook. We had two previews of its capabilities at CES 2013 (web browsing and computational photography) and MWC 2013 (benchmarks and low power consumption).
Since the above mentioned list of Tegra 4 devices are either high-end or larger sized devices, we will be comparing the performance of the Slate 7 Extreme against its current competition which include the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7, Google Nexus 7 (2013) and Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (7.0). In addition to these, the benchmark results of the Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display and other Tegra 4 devices will be highlighted occasionally as reference points.
Quadrant is an Android OS benchmark that evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance.
Having one of the fastest processors helped the Slate 7 Extreme clinch the top spot in the Quadrant benchmark against its immediate competitors. As points of comparison, the Transformer Pad TF701T has a score of 18,703 and the Excite Write achieved a score of 11,441. With different results across the board, we reckon the reasons could be due to different optimizations and display sizes.
Originally developed as a PC benchmarking tool, 3DMark is now expanded to support multiple platforms including Android OS. The Ice Storm benchmark is designed for smartphones, mobile devices and ARM architecture computers.
For an in-depth understanding of 3DMark for Android, do head over to our article, "3DMark - Android Device GPU Performance Review." In a nutshell, 3DMark consists of two test sections:
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme raises the off-screen rendering resolution to 1080p and uses higher quality textures and post-processing effects to create a more demanding load for the latest smartphones and tablets.
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited uses off-screen rendering resolution at 1080p, higher quality textures and post-processing effects to create a more demanding load for the latest smartphones and tablets. It also disables vertical sync, display resolution scaling and other operating system factors affecting the result, thus making it ideal for chip-to-chip comparisons of different chipsets.
The Slate 7 Extreme maintained its lead over the competition in the 3DMark benchmarks although the Nexus 7 (2013) isn't very far behind. In comparison, the Transformer Pad TF701T scored 9827 and 12,346 in the respective benchmarks while the Excite Write has scores of 7993 and 10,002. Outside of the Android camp, the A7-powered Apple iPad Mini with Retina display attained a Ice Storm Unlimited score of 14,268. So it looks like the HP Slate 7 Extreme ranks very well for gaming needs.
Number crunching aside, the user experience was generally smooth. We encountered no lags when opening apps and browsing the Internet. Web pages zoomed in and out without any noticeable lag too.
The Slate 7 Extreme is equipped with a 5-megapixel rear autofocus camera and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Since tablets generally don't fare well in their good imaging capabilities, we approached the Slate 7 Extreme with lower expectations. Even so, the HP tablet gravely disappointed us.
Our standard battery test for tablets includes the following parameters:
• Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
• Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
• Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
The Slate 7 Extreme lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes in our standard battery test (with all its power saving features disabled). Despite having the biggest battery capacity among the comparisons, the Slate 7 Extreme ranked second last in battery mileage (despite it's massive improvement over the old Slate 7).
The Nexus 7 (2013) could last one and a half hours longer despite having a higher resolution display and a slightly smaller battery capacity. In the Power Consumption chart, the Slate 7 Extreme registered the third highest power draw after its predecessor and the Galaxy Tab 3 (7.0).
In our Portability Index where where each device is assessed on its ability to balance battery mileage against its size and mass, the Slate 7 also ranked second last due to its weight and below average battery mileage.
Under normal usage conditions, we found that the Slate 7 Extreme could last more than a day of web surfing, gaming and replying of emails.
Priced at S$299, the HP Slate 7 Extreme is a recommended buy for consumers who are looking for a more portable tablet with built-in stylus than the current choices offered by the competition. Its stylus-optimized apps may not be as extensive and feature-packed as Samsung, but they should meet the needs of the mainstream consumers who just need a tablet to take down notes.
While the Slate 7 Extreme delivered an overall smooth experience, consumers should be wary of its poor imaging capabilities (if you rely on tablets for on-the-move imaging needs) and slightly below average battery performance especially if they plan on heavy multimedia consumption.
The Slate 7 Extreme has no direct competitor in its class, but the Nexus 7 (2013) is a compelling alternative if a microSD memory card slot and HDMI output is not necessary and getting the latest Android OS updates is important to you. The Nexus 7 (2013) also offers a higher resolution display and longer battery mileage. However, if you're looking for an overall all-rounder on a budget, the HP Slate 7 Extreme seems to be high on the list. The ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 might be cheaper but its overall performance is inferior.
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