It's officially true: Hewlett-Packard is back in the mobile race. Today, HP is announcing its first Android product: the HP Slate 7. But it looks like the company won't be making a splash right away: Starting at $169.99, the new device will launch this April with a fairly unimpressive set of specs.
Not completely competitive specs
As you'd expect from the name, the Slate 7 is a seven-inch tablet which runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Under the handsome soft-touch rubber exterior, you'll find a dual-core 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A9 chip of an undisclosed variety powering a 1024 x 600 resolution FFS+ LCD touchscreen display, which HP says will boast wide viewing angles and perform well in low light. There's 1GB of RAM, 8GB of solid state storage (expandable via microSD), 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and a pair of cameras, with one front-facing VGA webcam and a 3-megapixel rear imager. There's also a set of stereo speakers, with Beats Audio processing to give them a little extra oomph, and all of that fits in a stainless steel frame that's 10.7mm thick and weighs about eight-tenths of a pound. HP says the battery is good for five hours of video playback.
For $169, you'd think that would stack up nicely against Google's $199 Nexus 7, and we hope to find out soon, but at least on paper it's not completely competitive. Google's tablet may cost $30 more, have one fewer camera and no microSD slot, but it does have a quad-core Tegra 3 processor inside, boasts GPS, NFC, and more motion sensors, is a touch thinner and lighter, and comes with double the storage capacity at 16GB. Also, while we're curious about the clarity of the FFS+ screen, the Kobo Vox showed us that FFS+ is no guarantee of quality.
Stock Android + Beats Audio + ePrint
HP's Alberto Torres tells us that the Slate 7 is designed for "the consumer who really wants an entertainment solution," but oddly, one of the features HP touts most highly is ePrint: HP's software to print documents from a mobile device directly to a compatible HP printer. While the Slate 7 largely runs stock Android 4.1, with full access to Google services including the Play store, the company's modified the software slightly to integrate ePrint and Beats Audio right into the OS, allowing other applications to access their functionality.
Speaking of Beats Audio and printing, it's probably worth noting that neither are new for HP slates: the HP TouchPad boasted Beats processing, and we suppose that the HP PhotoSmart eStation was technically the company's first Android tablet.
We're hoping to get our hands on the Slate 7 at Mobile World Congress this week to give you an idea of how it feels, and how it might perform. If it's not up your alley, though, HP's tablet boss tells us that a slate of other Android and Windows tablets are inbound.