Hewlett-Packard has taken a step back into the tablet market with the HP Slate 7. The device, which offers a similar brand name as a previous failed model, is hoped to find an audience in the consumer market with Android Jelly Bean and Google Mobile services.
The new Slate offers a 7-inch diagonal screen and weighs 13 ounces. The body uses a black stainless-steel frame. HP is aggressively pricing the tablet at $169 and billing it as an "ideal personal companion," with consumer features like Beats Audio.
Alberto Torres, senior vice president of HP's Mobility Global Business unit, said HP planned more in the mobile market, largely abandoned after the failure of its webOS-based TouchPad tablets.
"To address the growing interest in tablets among consumers and businesses alike, HP will offer a range of form factors and leverage an array of operating systems," Torres said.
Inside the Slate 7
Torres said the Slate 7, introduced at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, is a compelling entry point for consumer tablets, pointing out that the $169 price competes with Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Other than the Beats Audio, though, it's not clear how much different the new HP Slate is from other Android tablets. Most offer the same Google experiences like Google Now, Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive and Google+ Hangouts for multi-person video chat, as well as access to apps and digital content through Google Play.
And specs-wise, the Slate 7 seems on par with but hardly crushing the competition. The tablet is powered by an ARM dual-core Cortex-A9 1.6 GHz processor. Integrated wireless allows customers to access e-mail, the Internet and applications. The high-aperture-ratio Field Fringe Switching (HFFS) panel offers wide viewing angles that work to make it easier to view documents, games, photos and videos -- even in outdoor lighting conditions.
The Slate 7 includes a 3-megapixel camera on the back and a VGA camera on the front for chatting, videos and photos.
HP also offer ePrint, which lets you print from your tablet from most apps. And a
micro USB port lets you transfer files. The tablet comes pre-installed with a suite of applications, including exclusive games and productivity tools.
A Respectable Effort
Carl Howe, vice president of Research and Data Sciences at Yankee Group, told us HP was relying on two things to differentiate its tablet: a low price and the HP logo.
"However, that low price simply matches that of the competing Amazon Kindle Fire 7-inch, and the display is fairly low-end compared to other 7-inch tablets such as the Google/Asus Nexus 7. As for the HP logo, HP really is a PC brand, not a post-PC one, and as such, I don't see it generating much demand on its own," Howe said.
"While HP's effort is respectable for a branded tablet, sub-$100 no-brand tablets at the low end and the iPad mini and Google Nexus 7 at the high end don't leave HP with much of a niche to thrive in. I'm skeptical HP will sell many except to those buyers who are dedicated HP fans."