Instead of making a big fuss about its newest Android tablet, plainly dubbed the HP 8 (model number 1401), Hewlett-Packard has simply started selling the thing via hp.com, at a seemingly reasonable $169.99.
Once you put the slate under the microscope though, you’ll notice exactly why the PC maker chose this low-key launch. Also, you may quickly reach the conclusion it’s cheap, but not cheap enough.
First, how dare HP intro a gadget lineup in China under the Compaq brand name, then months later bring one member of the family stateside? It’s disrespectful. Even worse, the HP (Compaq?) 8 runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out the box, which is unacceptable so far into 2014.
And it only gets worse from there. Sure, the 7.85-inch IPS panel is spacious for a $170 tab, but 1,024 x 768 pixels resolution? Forget it. 2 MP/0.3 MP dual cameras? No way would a photo buff ever touch this with a ten-foot pole.
Cortex A9-based quad-core Allwinner processor? Let’s say we’ve seen worse, although the Allwinner name doesn’t exactly inspire trust on the Western hemisphere. The remainder of the spec sheet is actually decent tolerable, with a 7-hour battery beneath the hood, 1 GB RAM, microSD support and stereo speakers.
But it’s surely too little, too late. Do yourselves a favor. Pony up an extra 50 bucks and get a Nexus 7 2013. Or, if you can still find it, score a first-gen Nexus 7. Alternatively, if 8 inches is your screen diagonal sweet spot, Dell’s $170 Venue 8 is leaps and bounds ahead of the HP 8 1401. You’re welcome.