MWC 2013: HP Announces Slate 7 Consumer Tablet

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HP throws down the gauntlet in the market dominated by iPad Mini and Nexus 7

HP has used the stage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to announce its “affordable” seven-inch tablet called the HP Slate 7.

The Android device is expected to launch in the United States in April, with a starting price of $169 (£111). There is currently no word on the UK availability.

Slate 7 is one of three tablets created by HP for different market segments. The first, ElitePad 900, was announced in October and aimed at enterprise users. The third is expected to be a premium consumer device.

Won’t get fooled again?

HP Slate 7 is dressed in a case made of stainless steel, and will be available in two colours – silver or red. It measures 197mm by 116mm by 10.7mm, and weighs just 370 grams.

HP Slate 7The seven-inch screen of the tablet is capable of 1024×600 resolution, and features something called the “High-aperture-ratio Field Fringe Switching panel”, which offers wide viewing angles even in outdoor lighting conditions.

Slate 7 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which gives it access to all the traditional Google services and the Play Store, and is powered by an ARM-designed dual core Cortex-A9 1.6 GHz processor. 8 GB of storage on board does not sound too impressive, however the memory can be easily quadrupled with the help of a microSD card.

The device has a 3-megapixel camera on the back and a VGA camera on the front, features Wi-Fi connectivity, and includes a handy micro USB port. Additionally, it is the first-ever tablet to offer embedded Beats Audio.

“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,” said Alberto Torres, senior VP for Mobility Global Business Unit at HP, who previously oversaw the development of MeeGo OS at Nokia.

“Our new HP Slate 7 on Android represents a compelling entry point for consumer tablets, while our ground-breaking, business-ready HP ElitePad on Windows 8 is ideal for enterprises and governments,” he added.

The release of an Android tablet could be the sign that after its experiments with Windows 8, HP is cosying up to Google. Earlier this month, the company launched Pavilion 14 – the largest laptop to run Google’s Chrome OS to date. “Android opened new avenues in the tablet segment. Toward the end of last year, we saw incredible growth with Android, to the point that it’s now exceeding iOS. So, of course, we’re excited to be working with Google,” said Torres.

HP has also announced plans to create the third tablet especially for the “SMB crowd”. The device is expected to have premium features and extended work capability.

HP has ventured into the world of mobile devices before, with its TouchPad tablet based on webOS operating system (previously developed by Palm). After six weeks of weak sales the tablet was scrapped, and the OS given away to the open source community.

Somewhat surprisingly, WebOS has surfaced again at MWC this year – our Spanish colleagues on Gizmodo ES report that LG is considering WebOS for TVs.

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