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HP Slate 6 VoiceTab review: Good design, average performance

HP Slate 6 VoiceTab review: Good design, average performance

Top Features
1. Sleek and stylish design
2. Stock version of Android

Overall Rating: 3/5

Over two years after HP - a company we all know for its desktops and laptops - killed WebOS, it is taking another stab at the smartphone market. But this time HP is doing it with Android. The company today formally launched Slate 6 and Slate 7. Both are part of VoiceTab series, which means they support 3G connectivity and you can make calls using them. Both are first launching in India and are created keeping in mind the needs of customers in developing market. 

We have Slate 6 with us for review today. It is a phablet with 6-inch screen and is meant for consumers who like to have one device through which they can make calls as well as enjoy web browsing, video playback and games on the large screen. 

In India, the phablet category is quite crowded. Almost all phone makers have at least one phablet - a phone with a screen size of more than 5-inch - in the market. Can HP match or surpass the existing phablets with Slate 6? 

Dive in for the answer. 

Sleek and with a touch of gold
Getting the design of a phablet right is not easy due to its size. But with Slate 6, HP has done well. With a thickness of less than 9mm, Slate 6 is among the slimmest devices in its class. The slim design means it feels compact and easy to hold and carry despite its large screen. Another thing that helps is the weight. At 160gm, Slate 6 is surprisingly light for its size. It is definitely not a device that you will like to - or will be able to - use with a single hand. But it is not as unwieldy as Huawei Ascend Mate. 

The phone has the usual rounded-corners, flat-box design but there are some design elements that make the Slate 6 stand apart from other devices in the market. The back cover, which can be removed, is made of plastic with matte finish. But the highlight of the back cover is the glass-weave finish. It looks really nice and gives the device a premium feel. 

The plastic frame around the device has been given gold finish instead of the usual faux chrome that we find in other devices. The metal buttons too feature the same finish. The combination of black body and the golden frame gives Slate 6 an appealing look. 

Despite all plastic design, the build quality of the device is very good. It doesn't have any flex. Back cover fits snuggly. Buttons feel firm and not loose. 

Slate 6 is powered by a quad-core processor. HP says the processor runs at 1.2GHz. However, in our tests we never saw it go past 1.1GHz. Though this is a very minor difference and something that doesn't have potential to affect any performance. There is 1GB RAM in the device. It has 16GB internal storage - you can add more through a micro SD card, a 3000 mAh battery, a 5MP primary camera and a 2MP front camera. The 6-inch screen has a resolution of 720P (1280 X 720 pixels). The device is powered by Android 4.2.2. Slate 6 has support for two sim cards. 

Let down by performance
For Slate 6, HP gets the design part absolutely right. However, on other - and more crucial - aspects it has missed a beat. 

The biggest let-down is the overall responsiveness of the device. Unlike other phone manufacturers who love to customize, or rather over-customize, the Android experience on their devices, HP is using the stock version of Android in Slate 6. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, it looks like HP just didn't optimize the OS at all for the device. The user interface on Slate 6 has noticeable lag. This lag is visible while scrolling through the list of home page, or during multitasking. Also, apps take a few extra milliseconds to open. And so does the keyboard when you click in a text field. 

Overall, Slate 6 feels a little slow. Yes, it works. You can browse all sorts of websites on it. You can play all kind of videos in all sorts of formats on it, if not through the default player then using an app like MX Player. The GPS in Slate 6 works reliably. But it all feels a little slower than it ought to be, especially compared to phones like Galaxy Grand 2 or tablets like Nexus 7. 

What about games?
Slate 6 can handle casual games like Angry Birds Go with ease. But more demanding games like Asphalt 8 can be played with smooth frame rates only at low graphics settings. At high graphics settings there is visible lag and the game doesn't respond to controls well. 

The performance story is repeated in the hardware. On paper, Slate 6 has good hardware. But in actual use we found it to be rather average. While the screen is adequately bright and shows decent colours, we have seen better. The viewing angles for the Slate 6 screen are below average and there is a noticeable shift in colours if you tilt your head or move the device while looking at it. 

The story with camera is the same. The 5MP camera is capable of shooting usable images, but only in good light. The photos lack proper contrast and level of detail but at least you can share them on social media sites. In low light, even if it is evening, colour noise creeps into the images shot with Slate 6. The camera software too could have been better. The shutter speed is slow and acquiring focus, especially in close up shots, can take a few seconds if light is low. Overall, the camera performance is disappointing. 


The device records videos in 720P. These are recorded in 3GP format and the quality of video recording is decent. The level of detail that is recorded is poor but at least the focus is maintained well. 

The 2MP front camera works well during video chats. 

Slate 6 has stereo speakers, placed on the top and bottom of the screen. However, the volume is on the lower side. At full volume, the audio is sufficient for games but if you intend to watch films on Slate 6, we recommend using it with a headphone. We also found the volume to be on lower side during calls, though the voice clarity was good and signal was maintained well even when we used the device on the go. 

Slate 6 has a good battery life. Depending on your use, it will last anywhere between 12 to 16 hours. When paired with a 3G connection, the device gave us a battery life of around 14 hours while we used it for gaming, photography, web browsing, emails, calls and instant messaging. 

Should you buy it or not
HP has priced Slate 6 at Rs 22,990. Given the performance issues we don't recommend Slate 6. Though these performance issues are likely to be software related and could be fixed in the coming days, we suggest you to stay away from Slate 6 until these issues are fixed. 

Slate 6 is not a bad device. But there are better devices in the market. 


If you want a big screen device, we feel Huawei Ascend Mate is a better, albeit a little more expensive, choice. But if you can compromise on the screen size, Lenovo K900 nowadays has almost the same price. It is a much better phablet than Slate 6 and Ascend Mate even though it has a screen size of only 5.5-inch. At the same time, you can also take a look at the Galaxy Grand 2, which has a screen size of 5.25-inch, but offers better experience than Slate 6.

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