There are four main resolution levels for Android tablets:
480; - no name bargain basement tablets from dollar shops etc.
600; - low level but workable for everyday chores and video watching - this tablet
720-800; - pretty sharp, HD levels - the original Nexus 7, the current Asus Memo Pad HD 7
1200; - "retina" levels of pixel density, sharper than an e-reader for books, gorgeous videos - the Nexus 7 2013
This HP 7 "Mesquite" tablet, a special Walmart-only item for sales promotion on Black Friday and then for the rest of the Christmas shopping season, as stock allows, is a 1024x600 level screen - low but usable. To put it in perspective, this has the same level resolution as the old 10.1" netbooks (remember those) so in a sense this is a netbook reincarnated as a tablet. It's fine for most videos, ok for social media and email, but not sharp enough for extended reading chores like e-books. Resolution isn't bad, but it's definitely not state of the art and is one level below what most tech writers consider the minimum required. On the other hand, it isn't the abysmal and nearly useless 480p bargain-basement level that even netbooks exceeded. All in all, meets expectations on a solidly built, zippy, $99 tablet.
I had one of the sub-$100 Hisense Sero LT tablets that came out mid year with the same resolution. This one is sharper, even though the resolution is the same. This HP is also subjectively much faster, but since I quickly gave the Sero LT away, I can't compare them side by side.
Colors are vivid enough for satisfactory video watching. Some detail is lost in nighttime and dark indoor scenes (as it is lost with most monitors).
This is a traditional TN screen, same as found on the vast majority of laptops, not a wide viewing angle IPS screen made famous on iPads. So you need to pay attention to the orientation of the screen, or the picture quality will change as you shift the viewing angle.
This has a low rez (netbook level) front camera for video calls and no back camera. Sometimes lower res is good - when you have less bandwidth on WiFi, like overseas for example. But you aren't going to say "wow" like on HD Facetime on an Apple (assuming you have fast internet). If you are having a bad hair day, conversely the lower resolution might be a good thing.
The "industrial design" of this tablet blows away much more expensive tablets. The "rough matte" white back looks great, the HP logo looks classy, the edges are rounded and squared (the back slopes at the corners, but there are clear front and back design lines). This looks like it cost three times the MSRP, and avoids cheap frills like chrome. It feels rock solid in my hands, and the speaker is very loud and clear.
The tablet is AMAZINGLY zippy - scrolling in a browser is smooth, pages on our fast internet open fast. Apps download and open fast. WiFi is solid and fast. Knowing that it is "just" a single core chip I was really surprised. I had heard that a faster single core would beat a slower multi-core - simply because most apps don't really use more than a single core.
To recap, this is great for web browsing, email, social media, video watching (caution: probably to save the battery, the maximum brightness is about 3/4 of that on my brighter tablets - plenty for watching in bed, washed out if you read by a sunny window - the first thing you should do when setting this up, is turn the brightness level all the way up).
A note on processors and Android versions:
1. This is powered by the Intel Atom "Medfield" system on a chip which was introduced for smartphones (the dividing line between tablets and smartphones is screen resolution and game play). Intel really wants to stake out its fair share of the mobile (tablet/smartphone) market, and Medfield was released about a year ago and recognized as a solid, but not spectacular, entry in mobile. There have been two significant upgrades in Intel's mobil SOC's (systems on a chip) since then: Clovertrail, which is faster etc. and currently offered on the Dell Venue 7 and 8; and Bay Trail, which is currently offered on the Dell "Windows 8.1 desktop" tablet, the Venue Pro 8. Rumormill has it that Intel will push the really classy Bay Trail out to sub $200 Android tablets by the middle of next year. It will run circles around the Medfield chip in this device - easily support all the higher resolutions, and have enough power for mid to high level Android games. But for the time being, having owned the Sero LT with a low level (but dual core) ARM chip, and owing the Asus Memo Pad HD 7 with a quad core hotter ARM chip, this budget tablet holds its own in everyday desktop chores and beats the Sero LT in speed.
2. So the budget (and single core, at that!) chip in this isn't a problem. BUT the tablet is running the Intel instruction set, the classic desktop PC x86 instruction set, not the "condensed," "shortcut" instruction set used by ARM chips that power almost 100% of Android phones and tablets. In order to run Android on Intel x86, the whole operating system had to be re-written by Intel both to work on their chip/instruction set and, more importantly, to take advantage of its extra features. Fortunately, Google reportedly is really interested in seeing Android re-written for x86/Intel, and as a result their engineers reportedly worked closely with Intel to do a first class translation of Android from ARM chips to Intel chips. The net result is that all "built in" Google apps, which have been optimized to run well on Intel as well as ARM, are great. BUT, not all 3rd party apps are optimized, and some won't run at all. I have run the big ones, like FB, and obscure ones, like exercise programs, and most ran - except one video program I like that ran, but couldn't run my video (which was a standard h.264 file). Fortunately there was another free alternative than ran great (Dice Player).
Why should you get this "slightly" different (the Intel chip) Android tablet instead of a no-name tablet (like the Hisense Sero LT or similar budget tablets from big retailers - not dollar stores) that runs the better-established ARM instruction set? Simply for the HP quality and experience. And Intel quality chip. Quite frankly this is a MUCH better designed HP budget tablet than even their own, more expensive Slate 7 line, and its amazing that Intel has done such a good job with this mobile system on a chip (because I was disappointed many times by their Atoms on netbooks). I suspect that Google, Intel, and HP collaborated behind the scenes to get this table into the market place this holiday season as a "demonstration" project, to show that Intel is ready for prime-time in the Android world, and not simply to push sales (I can't imagine there is much profit in this).
In this case it makes sense, and neither HP nor Intel dropped the ball.
A word on Android versions: 4.1 is a good, solid edition of Android. Fans complain that it isn't 4.2, or 4.3, or even the just released 4.4, but 42 and 4.3 were largely fixes for Google's own Nexus devices or to add features for cameras etc. 4.1 is the most stable "every other device" release. 4.4, on the other hand, is really interesting, but mainly because it will allow even lower spec'd devices to run a more current version of Android instead of sticking with the woefully outdated 2.3 Gingerbread. Remember that the 4.1 used in this device, in particular, has been heavily reworked by Intel and Google and isn't an "old" operating system in the same sense that the ARM version of 4.1 is.
This is also a VERY "factory original" look and feel Android. No gratuitous bells and whistles. No gilding the lily. No silk purses out of sows' ears. You get the picture. The cleanest version of Android short of a Nexus.
Finally, it was nice to see that that full device encryption is an option in the Settings. This is great if you intend to take this on trips and do banking from your hostel or hotel.
Right now I would include this in my short list of recommendations to friends, the list that includes the Nexus 7 (2013) for its "retina" level display, the EVGA Tegra Note 7 for its sheer gaming power (but lower resolution, one step down from the Nexus), the Asus Memo Pad HD 7 (Asus makes the Nexus, and the HD 7 is like a budget Nexus), and this HP 7 "Mesquite". Pricing is $229 for the Nexus 2013, $199 for the Tegra Note, $149 for the Memo Pad, and of course $99 for this. Some slight discounts are available on the Nexus and HD 7 but not on the brand new Tegra. This device was $10 off on Black Friday, but seems stable at $99 now.
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