HP wants you to use its new 8-inch Windows tablet to get work done

The nice thing about 8-inch Windows tablets, aside from how portable they are, is that they're often super inexpensive and come with Microsoft Office pre-installed. The challenge for big tech companies is getting consumers to actually want to use the desktop on such a tiny screen. HP is the latest to try its hand, with a new device called the Envy Note 8. As you'd expect of any tablet being billed as a productivity device, it comes with a keyboard -- in this case, a Bluetooth accessory that allows you to view the tablet in landscape or portrait mode, and that has a slot in the back where you can stow the device when you're not using it. This is a design we've seen before, but it's the first time HP is attempting it. Also, for what it's worth, HP will include a stylus in the box, which not all of its rivals bother to do.

While an 8-inch tablet might look a little silly paired with a much bigger keyboard, it's necessary to ensure an acceptable typing experience; a keyboard flush with an 8-inch tablet would be even more cramped than a netbook. Indeed, the aluminum keyboard here is sturdy, and offers a good deal of travel, with the buttons measuring 1.5 millimeters deep. The touchpad is also more spacious than what you'd find on competing devices, including the Surface's optional Type Cover. At the same time, the fact that there's a stowaway slot in the back means you don't have to pack a separate tablet and Bluetooth keyboard, which could quickly get annoying.

Even with a comfortable typing experience, though, it's still your call if you want to run Office on an 8-inch display. As it happens, the quality here isn't bad: 1,920 x 1,200 resolution (a high pixel count for a screen this size), with decent viewing angles to match. Processing power is also an issue. While the Intel Atom x5-Z8300 CPU inside is surely sufficient to handle the basics (email, web surfing, et cetera), we've found that even Intel's Celeron processors can make for sluggish performance on Windows, so that doesn't bode well for the even lower-end Atom. Somehow, despite that power-sipping chip, battery life is rated a little over six hours, which seems skimpy.


All told, then, while the keyboard and free Office install are nice to have, the Note 8 is still a tablet-first sort of device, which means you'd better be happy with the selection of touch-friendly apps in the Windows Store instead of expecting to rely just on desktop programs. The stylus here might help too. You could use it with common apps like OneNote, for instance, and HP also built in some radial shortcut menus for copying, pasting and accessing a couple apps, including HP's own "Notes Hub" and "Instant Note." In case you intend to use this small tablet as a camera, the specs here should make for some serviceable, if unremarkable, shots: a 2-megapixel webcam up front, paired with a 5MP autofocusing camera around back.

The Envy Note 8 ships November 8th, starting at $329 with the stylus included. You can also get it with the keyboard bundled for $429.