Monday, February 25, 2013

HP unveils its first Android device: The HP Slate 7 entry-level tablet, priced at $170

As rumored, HP has re-entered the mobile game at Mobile World Congress, with an Android tablet. The company announced the HP Slate 7 on Sunday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Rumors of HP embracing Android first arose about two weeks ago.  The announcement of the tablet was expected as a possibility.  HP exited mobile in 2011 when it dumped its webOS sporting devices.

The tablet definitely entry-level. It will be priced at $169.99, and the price alone points to Kindle Fire-level specifications. In the age of the second-generation Kindle Fire, though, the specs aren't all that bad.

The HP Slate 7 -- notably, HP shipped the Windows 7-based HP Slate 500 in late 2010 -- will come with a dual-core 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A9 chip (with unnamed genealogy), and 1 GB of RAM, a 7-inch 1,024 x 600 FFS+ LCD touchscreen display screen which HP says will enhance wider viewing angles and perform well in low light.

The device will come with 8GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, and both front- and rear-facing cameras, with the front-facing being a VGA webcam and the rear-facing one being a 3-megapixel shooter.

HP fans who are aware of its Beats Audio connection won't be surprised by the stereo speakers sports said Beats Audio processing. The HP Slate 7 sports a 10.7mm thick stainless steel frame and weighs about eight-tenths of a pound. HP says the battery is capable of five hours of video playback.

The Slate 7 doesn't sport a UI layer such as TouchWiz or Sense, so that should mean that HP will be able to upgrade the device more easily to later versions of Android. HP did add ePrint and Beats Audio into the platform, though, so that other applications can leverage their functionality. Other than that it's stock Android, meaning that unlike the Kindle Fire and like the Nexus 7, it has access to the Play Store.

Speaking of the Nexus 7, that device comes with a slightly higher $199 pricetag. In comparison, it has no rear-facing camera, but carries a quad-core Tegra 3 processor. It also adds GPS, NFC, and more motion sensors, and is slightly thinner and lighter. It also comes with double the internal storage capacity at 16GB, but does not have a microSD slot.

The HP Slate 7 launches in April.

The company has already said that it will be launching a number of additional tablets this year, but CEO Meg Whitman has said that the company would not launch a smartphone in 2013.

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