By Jared Newman | Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 9:51 am
A YouTube user apparently got hold of HP’s Windows 7 slate, and while leaked videos like these are usually cause for geek salivation, this one was like a car wreck. I just couldn’t look away from the disaster.
If this is the real deal, it quickly illustrates why Windows 7 tablets are bad news: HP’s slate has a control-alt-delete button. Let that roll around for a minute. Because the keyboard is part of the software, and the software is prone to lock-ups, you need a button dedicated to saving the slate from doom. I can only imagine how awful the control-alt-delete button would play out in stores, which might explain why HP is targeting the Windows slate at businesses. Those chumps will settle for anything if it’s secure!
It gets worse. Shortly after firing up the device (a 30-second process), the demonstrator tries to show off Internet Explorer. “Let’s do a little bit of scrolling,” he says, dragging a finger across the browser window. Except, the window doesn’t scroll. An icon pops up, evidently used to open a new tab. Now, the demonstrator’s fumbling around. He opened the new tab by accident. Now he’s trying to close it. The computer lags behind his commands. This is hard to watch.
Just when you don’t think the supposed HP slate can look any less attractive, the demonstrator decides to show the on-screen keyboard. But it doesn’t automatically open when you click on a text field, as seen on the iPad, the Galaxy Tab and any smartphone that doesn’t have physical keys. No, on HP’s Windows slate, you must reach to the side of the device and hit a hardware button to pop up the keyboard. And when you’re done typing, you’ve got to hit that button again to stow the keyboard away.
Of course, some counter-points apply: The demonstrator didn’t remove the slate’s protective film, which probably made the touch screen less responsive. Control-alt-delete, despite its association with crashes and shutdowns, has other uses like logging off, locking the computer and switching passwords. And above all, this is a prototype — or fake — so HP deserves a little slack.
But all those little disasters add up to a larger point, that the Windows slate still seems like a laptop cut in half, not a tablet built for fingers and fast access. It needs extra hardware to make up for software shortcomings, but doesn’t offer anything new in exchange. Why bother?
Update: Re-reading this, I think it makes sense to apply an ounce of skepticism to the source, even if the video is convincing. I’ve made some slight tweaks to the story to reflect that.