With the iPad well established in businesses and Android tablets such as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime offering a solid and workable keyboard dock, you might wonder whether the good old Windows-based tablet has any traction at all for modern business.
Some manufacturers clearly think it does. Fujitsu sticks by the format with its Stylistic Q550 for example and now HP has revamped its original Slate 500, which launched at the tail end of 2010.
From HP's perspective, the Slate 2 is aimed to people who need to work in a traditional Windows environment, and who may use custom apps designed for Windows that can't run on other operating systems. It sounds fair enough, and we are sure there are plenty of businesses out there with precisely this need.
The Slate 2 is small, but not particularly light. The weight of 690g means it is heavier than the iPad 2 model with Wi-Fi and 3G, despite lacking the latter capability. It is also heavier than the Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablet section, though lighter than its 1.1Kg when the keyboard is attached.
The 8.9-inch screen means the Slate 2 is quite small, with a footprint of 234 x 150mm. But it is thick at 15mm and if you've been used to holding slimline tablets like the iPad 2, you'll really notice the difference. We didn't find the thickness a bother at all, but it suggests that HP hasn't paid much attention to aesthetics with the Slate 2.
This impression is borne out by the fact that the Slate 2 has a chassis design which matches almost exactly the original Slate 500. The silver edges and black front and back look a little staid, and while the plastic build materials aren't exactly premium, they do feel tough and solid.
Ports and connectors are minimal. There is a combined headset and microphone jack, an SD card slot and USB 2.0 connector.
A dock, which connects to a proprietary slot on one of the long edges of the Slate 2 (and which doubles up as the main power charger), is the same as that shipped with the Slate 500. It provides a nicely angled desktop stand and adds two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, another mic/headphones connector and a power jack.
The edges of the Slate 2 offer an array of buttons. On the upper long edge there are volume buttons, a Home button which takes you out to the Desktop so you can quickly see any shortcuts you've placed there, and a button which takes you to the log out screen.
The main power switch, a slider, is on the right short edge, while on the left is a button which calls up the keyboard for data entry.