11 Comments

Summary:

HP is back in the tablet game with an Android slate, but some of the specs are from 2010. Will the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and Asus FonePad get to keep their voice functions in the U.S.? I’m not so sure.

android-this-week

This week saw the Mobile World Congress event wrap up in Barcelona, with a few new Android devices to look forward to. One confirmed an earlier rumor that HP was getting back in on the tablet market as the company introduced its Slate7 running on Android. The most appealing aspect of the product may be the $169 price tag because there’s not much to make this “me-too” tablet stand out from the crowd.

HP Slate7The Slate7 is another 7-inch tablet, competing against Google’s Nexus 7, the new Asus FonePad, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 and others in this space. I can see why HP opted for a small slate as their comeback product: Some recent data indicates that smaller tablets will outsell larger ones in 2013.

HP used a fairly standard set of hardware in the Slate7. A 1.6 GHz dual-core chip powers the Android 4.1 device, which includes 1 GB of memory. The 7-inch touchscreen uses a 1024 x 600 resolution panel; the same res as my original Galaxy Tab back in 2010. Storage capacity is 8 GB of flash memory that can be expanded with a microSD card. A pair of cameras complete the product with the rear one offering a meager 3 megapixels. In short, this a low-priced product with old specs competing against similarly priced products with better specs. As I said when HP was rumored to re-enter the tablet market: good luck with that.

Also out of MWC are tablets that include cellular voice capabilities: The aforementioned Asus FonePad and new Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 are two examples. I’ve said for some time that I think small tablets will replace smartphones, but I think we’re very early in that trend for two reasons.

Consumers can’t conceive of carrying a 7- or 8-inch tablet everywhere because the device is not as pocketable as a traditional smartphone. I certainly understand that situation. Yet, I carry a small tablet everywhere; in a pocket when I can and in the hand when I can’t. As I said on this week’s podcast, I think this is a situation that has to be experienced; not simply written off because it sounds like a bad idea.

Galaxy Note 8.0The other issue, at least in the US, is how carriers control what devices actually connect to the cellular networks. My Samsung Galaxy Tab actually had voice capability in 2010, but US carriers stripped the functionality out of the device. In contract, international versions of the Tab worked just fine for voice calls. I’m not yet convinced that US carriers will support voice features in these new Android slates, but I hope I’m wrong.

Finally, I’ll be spending some time using Android on a completely different device this coming week: Google’s Chromebook Pixel. I’m finding that besides a superb web experience thanks to the high resolution display paired with an Intel Core i5 processor, the Pixel is a versatile laptop as well.

I’m already running a simultaneous instance of Linux alongside Chrome OS and thanks to the Android-x86 port, I can run Android on the Pixel as well. The touchscreen isn’t yet supported, so I’ll have to use the Pixel’s touchpad; not a big deal as it’s one of the best I’ve used on a laptop, rivaling that of my old MacBook Air.

  1. I think your viewpoint on the industry going to big screens, no matter what, is very short-sighted. 5-6″ phones are NOT for everyone, no matter how much some members of the tech press falls in love with them. In fact, there is already a backlash among some (most of the guys at The Verge, for example), who want to see more full-featured devices in the more portable 4.3-4.5″ range.

    As for me, I am the polar opposite user from what you describe. I am not converging devices. Mine are diverging as more application-specific hardware becomes available. I have a Windows 7 laptop that I now use for nothing but work. I can do that, because I got a Chromebook that handles 95% of what I need a keyboard for at home. I have an iPad Mini that I use all the time for gaming and surfing because the smaller, thinner form factor is portable, and is perfect for more extended use. However, I have absolutely 0 desire to use it for calls. I much prefer my smaller iPhone 5 (sure, it could be a little bit bigger, but not much). I still take tons of calls at work, and need a device that I can use securely with one hand while working in a tight space or while on a lift or ladder. Many of us still need a premium device at this size.

    So yes, the mobile market is converging in some ways. However, it is simultaneously diverging at the same time. Chromebooks, multiple tablet sizes, wearable computing, Kickstarter mobile game consoles with controllers going mainstream. Talking about the inevitability of 7-8″ phones ignores everything else that is going on in mobile right now.

    Share
    1. All good points and I’m actually the same type of user as you: I have multiple phones, tablets and laptops all suited for the best tasks at hand.

      And I also should have quantified my thought a little more: I don’t believe that every smartphone owner will replace their device with a tablet. There is no one size fits all solution… it’s a trend I see, however, towards fewer screens, not more. Thanks!

      Share
  2. 7 inch’rs won’t replace smart phones, yes you can carry them about, but they don’t balance on the arm very well when out running/biking, however the Asus padphone is a better design, if only it can be inserted and extracted easily, likewise I am assuming all data/apps are kept on the phone and the slate simply provides extra screen and power

    Share
  3. Nicholas Paredes Saturday, March 2, 2013

    Having lost my Dell Streak in a cab when it fell out of the large pocket needed to hold it, I would suggest that many of us are happy with the 4+” profile. Now that my iPad Mini is in my jacket pocket continually, the need for a larger device is diminished.

    A few years ago, I thought of the cell phone as a possible personal network. I now realize that having many devices that are all connected to services makes the most sense. I believe the market finds this as well, given that the carriers offer data sharing.

    Better services = more devices.

    Share
  4. It’s so great to read that you’re ‘geeking out’ the Pixel. You are going old school with the new, keep us posted!

    Share
  5. The Novo 9 Spark is also released next week — and features a Quad Core processor/ 1.5 Ghz /2GB, along with a 9.7 inch 2048×1536 (Retina) screen – and a powerful 10,000 mAh battery, 16GB Memory, 4K Digital HDMI, and a 5 Megapixel Rear Camera with AF and Flash for $269 at TabletSprint.

    Also available through TabletSprint is the Pipo U3 – 3G for $199 released March 1st – a 7″ Android tablet with a built-in 3G slot that works with all GSM Network Carriers – including AT&T and T-Moble and is the first fully functional 3G 7″ tablet priced under $300 —

    It should be interesting to see how the new Novo Quad Core Series fares in 2013 as this company gains more presence in the tablet market.

    Share
  6. g2-2551367392025d285ab2f59c9e7753fd Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    “Consumers can’t conceive of carrying a 7- or 8-inch tablet everywhere because the device is not as pocketable as a traditional smartphone.”

    I think the word you want beginning that sentence is “men”, not “consumers”. Most women carry bags at all times that are large enough to hold a 7″ tablet. That’s where mine is whenever I leave my house.

    Share
  7. Android is everywhere now. This is an interesting move from HP, just wondering whether they can compete against the main players in the consumer market, where in my opinion Amazon has an edge with the low cost Kindle Fire. HP may have more of an edge in the business tablet market. Chromebook Pixel looks to me a complete package.

    Share
  8. Android is everywhere now. This is an interesting move from HP, just wondering whether they can compete against the main players in the consumer market, where in my opinion Amazon has an edge with the low cost Kindle Fire. HP may have more of an edge in the business tablet market. Chromebook Pixel looks to me a complete package.

    If you want to get more background about the tablet market you may want to read this market overview: http://bit.ly/13zou70

    Share
  9. HP comes back with its 7-inch tablet, which is just an ordinary tablet as compared to other tablets. May be its because they want to settle between a full size tablet and a small tablet. They wanted to make it both portable and yet give the feel of a full size tablet, but its really helping because 7 inch is still big. It has specification which the Galaxy had back in 2010. I think HP will have to come up with a better strategy.

    If you want to get more background about the tablet market and various competitors, you may find the Uniqloud tablet market overview quite insightful.

    Share
  10. Another Android tablet maker making strides to offer quality Android tablets at competitive prices is Ainol Electronics – which won runner-up for “Best Tablet of the Year” at CES 2012, and this month has introduced the Novo Quad Core Series of Android tablets — including the Novo 7 Venus which launched this week, with one U.S. reseller – a site called TabletSprint – offering this new model for $149.

    The Novo 7 Venus offers impressive features for the price — including a Quad Core processor, a high resolution multi-touch 1280×800 IPS screen, 16GB memory, a front webcam, Android O/S and Google Play Store preinstalled… all of which are found on the popular Nexus 7 — while also offering a number of features the Nexus 7 doesn’t – including a 2-megapixel rear camera, a MicroSD memory card slot, and an HDMI 1080p port to download and watch movies directly from a tablet on a large screen TV and also play video games on to a big screen; plus more ways to connect to the internet, including Ethernet as well as 3G/4G Wireless connection with a USB adapter.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post