As business technology and mobile computing becomes more and more advanced, many offices are deciding to go “paperless” – exchanging mountains of paperwork for data neatly organized in the cloud.

But this transition can be a daunting challenge, especially so in an industry like real estate, which depends on having a reliable paper trail to document every legally required step of acquiring and selling property.

The HP Pro Slate 8 is a tablet device that is very explicitly built for those who aren’t quite ready to give up their pen and paper. Instead, it promises to work right alongside them.

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As an Android-powered tablet device, the Pro Slate 8 is fairly standard. The “8” in its name refers to its 8-inch display (HP also offers a Pro Slate 12 with the same features and an even larger 12-inch display), with a high definition resolution of 2,048×1536 pixels – notably, the same resolution Apple’s iPad. Offering 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, the whole package is powered by a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800-series quad-core processor. The device itself is incredibly light and portable, weighing less than a pound.

What sets it apart, however, is its unique “duet pen”. Unlike an ordinary stylus, the duet pen can also turn into an ordinary ink pen, and allow you to write on a nearby pad of paper, all while what you’re writing simultaneously appears on the screen of the tablet.

This is a pretty fantastic feature for anyone who finds trying to jot down notes on the glass surface of a tablet to be inferior to the old-fashioned pen and paper method. The Pro Slate gives you the best of both worlds – a way to digitize what you’re writing without needing to change the way you’re used to writing it.

This feature works best when used with the HP Pro Slate Folio case, sold separately, which holds a pad of A5 paper in the optimal position to have what’s being written on it recorded by the device – as well as being a stylish package for carrying it around.

The duet pen uses ultrasound, detected by built-in microphones positioned around the tip of the pen, to triangulate its position around the device and record what you write to within a fine degree of accuracy.

HP Pro Slate 8 review
The HP Pro Slate 8 “Duet Pen” can digitize anything you write on a nearby pad of paper.

That said, depending on how you’re accustomed to holding a pen, it can be a bit finicky. If you’re like me, you may find you need to hold the duet pen higher up than would normally feel comfortable. Otherwise, your fingers may block the microphone-powered detection and result in a garbled translation of what you’re writing appearing on the screen.

So long as it is able to detect what you’re writing, though, I found the Pro Slate did an excellent job of understanding and translating even my chicken scratch into actual words. Capital and lower case letters, spaces, punctuation and new paragraphs all appeared as I intended, with minimal formatting errors or mistakes.

As neat a trick as the duet pen is at home, make no mistake: This is a tablet built for business.

The pre-loaded HP Notes app allows you to get the most out of the Pro Slate’s unique duet pen feature, but the device also comes ready to work with other note-taking apps you may already be using at work, like Evernote, making it easy to share notes between devices and co-workers. HP Touchpoint Manager and HP Managed Mobility Services allow for “business-class” hardware and data security. The tablet also can wirelessly interact with a projector or monitor using Miracast for giving presentations without the need for plugs or wires.

It’s immediately apparent how this device and its unique ability could be used by a real estate professional. For quickly filling out forms or contracts on the go, the pen is indeed mightier. Now, instead of having to spend forever at a copier, scanning those signatures and forms after they’ve been completed, they could instead immediately be available in the cloud.

It’s a fascinating decision by HP to court such a niche market with the Pro Slate; one that wants a device that attempts to work with a pen and paper rather than outright replace them. But that niche is right at home in the real estate industry, where the unstoppable force of wanting to digitize everything meets the immovable object of needing a reliable paper trail. The HP Pro Slate 8 tries, and for the most part succeeds, in bridging those two worlds in one lightweight, professional package.


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