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Here’s HP’s comeback tablet: the steel-framed, Android-based Slate7

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HP(s hpq) is back in the non-Windows small tablet game, and this time Android(s goog) is the platform. The company’s webOS-based TouchPad may have been loved by some, but not by enough to help HP battle the iPad(s aapl). Now, after a year of licking its wounds, HP has returned with the Slate7.

The Slate7 is HP’s new entry-level tablet, a cheap-ish 7-inch Android device that has two main selling points: its shell is stainless steel, and it features Beats Audio, just as the TouchPad did. The choice of materials means the Slate7 is not the lightest in its class – at 368g, it outweighs the 340g Nexus 7 and 308g iPad mini — although it is lighter than the 395g 7-inch Kindle Fire HD. As for Beats Audio, well, it should produce decent bass.

The tablet runs on an ARM(s armh) dual-core 1.6GHz processor and has a 3-megapixel camera on the back and a VGA camera on the front for Hangouts and Skype(s msft) There’s no word yet on screen resolution or the possibility of a mobile-broadband-equipped version – the initial announcement is of a Wi-Fi-only affair that will go on sale in “selected” countries in the EU, Middle East and Africa for €149 ($196).

Multi-platform strategy

HP’s mobility chief, Alberto Torres, joined the company in September last year – he was previously in charge of the MeeGo project at Nokia(s nok). In a statement today, he laid out HP’s new mobility strategy pretty plainly:

”To address the growing interest in tablets among consumers and businesses alike, HP will offer a range of form factors, leveraging an array of operating systems. Our new HP Slate7 on Android represents a compelling entry point for consumers, while our ground-breaking, business- ready HP ElitePad on Windows(s msft) 8 is ideal for enterprises and governments.”

Also taking into account HP’s Pavilion Chromebook and its Envy X2 Windows 8 tablet, it is clear that HP is hedging its bets in both the tablet and notebook spaces. A major question now is which platform the company chooses for its smartphone strategy, which CEO Meg Whitman hinted at last year.

And across all these platforms, we still need to see what HP’s big differentiators will be. Hopefully I will get my hands on the Slate7 at Mobile World Congress in the coming days, so we can see if HP is counting on style alone to set itself apart from the plethora of 7-inch rivals.

7 Responses to “Here’s HP’s comeback tablet: the steel-framed, Android-based Slate7”

  1. Talha Iqbal

    These 10 inches Android base tablets are being used in classroom to enhance teaching for students – hopefully they will continue it to the rest of the state too. Ebooks & educational uses are a main driver to expand tablet market penetration towards user segments such as teenagers. If you want to get more background about the tablet market you may find the Uniqloud tablet market overview insightful.

  2. Rick Martin

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

    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.

    • Rick Martin

      One other Android tablet maker making strides to offer quality Android tablets at competitive prices is Ainol Electronics- which previously won runner-up for “Best Tablet of the Year” at CES, 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 compares to the Nexus 7 tablet but for considerably less – matching key features, including a Quad Core processor, a high resolution multi-touch 1280×800 IPS screen, 16GB memory, a front camera, Android O/S and Google Play Store preinstalled — while also offering a number of features the Nexus 7 doesn’t – including a 2-megapixel rear camera, a MicroSD memory card slot, an HDMI 1080p port to download and watch movies directly from a tablet on a large screen TV and also project & 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 through its USB port with a 3G/4G USB adapter.