HP on Sunday officially introduced the public to the Slate 7, its new consumer tablet, which looks to get HP back in the consumer electronics market in a big way.
It's clear that the company learned quite a bit from the sales – or lack thereof – on its earlier effort, the TouchPad, but how far will the newly-minted Slate 7 go in terms of sales?
The HP Slate 7 is, much as the name implies, a 7-inch tablet. It's packing a 3-megapixel camera on the tablet's rear, a 1-megapixel front facing camera, and a composite material backing said to be similar in nature to the Google Nexus 7.
It's got Beats Audio function for added audio performance, and 8 gigabytes of onboard storage with a microSD card slot for an extra 32 gigabytes of storage. The system runs a "vanilla" version of Android 4.1 – a.k.a. “Jelly Bean” – and access to several different apps and content sources via Google Play and other Google services like YouTube and Gmail.
This is a different step from HP's earlier attempt at a consumer tablet, which ran on HP's own webOS operating system, and one that many had suggested that HP use all along. But HP didn't rule out the possibility that future HP tablets may see a Windows RT version, since HP is reportedly planning a wide assortment of tablets overall.
The Slate 7 is said to be part of a larger plan to turn the firm around over the course of several years – a strategy which would make particular sense given that several different versions are in the works.
Perhaps most interesting of all is the projected price tag. Reports indicate that the device will sell at $169, making it an easy competitor in the smaller tablet market, where major brands like the Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD sell at $199. HP actually having a pricing advantage going into the fray is a bit of a surprise in its own right, but based on current intel, it'll have a tough time making a case as it has little with which to attract users.
The HP Slate 7 is set to go on sale this March in the United States, but what kind of sales will it see? It's certainly got the price to compete, but there's not much going for this device in usability. Amazon's Kindle Fire has its massive ecosystem of content, and Google's Nexus 7 has some hardware advantages, but where is HP's value proposition? A $30 savings is a step, certainly, and will likely draw the budget users, but what's to stop everyone from going with an established Kindle Fire instead?
Paying a little extra money for access to all those books and the like isn't out of line, and though there's word that the HP Slate 7 will be an "entertainment-focused device" according to HP's mobile devices division head Alberto Torres, there's not much in the way of word as to just what entertaining this will do.
Edited by Braden Becker