Have you seen the “drugstore tablets” yet? These are the small slates that cost $99 or less, typically coming from companies you’ve never heard of. Hewlett Packard is a brand you’re likely familiar with, but it too has a $99 Android tablet: The HP 7 Plus. The slate might not appear in a drugstore but it is available directly from HP.
What do you get for the money? A pretty basic tablet, as you’d expect. The 7-inch screen uses a paltry 1024 x 600 resolution, something that was close to cutting-edge in 2010. Battery life is relatively lacking as well, as the tablet will only run for 5.5 hours before needing a charge. The HP 7 Plus runs Android 4.2.2 — not the most recent version of Google’s mobile software — on a 1 GHz quad-core chip, has 8 GB of internal storage and 1 GB of memory. You’ll get Wi-Fi but no Bluetooth, an accelerometer but no GPS.
In other words, HP’s new tablet is competing with the third-tier and no-name budget brands. The company has never really produced a high-end Android tablet, mainly because that market is owned by Samsung, Google and others — even Amazon, to a point, with its Kindle Fire products. So instead, HP seems to be aiming at the lower end market in hopes that its brand carries some additional value over no-name brands.
Can it succeed? I’m dubious. At certain price bands, the product brand matters less than actual hardware: People want the most bang for buck in this range. Even at $99, HP may find more competition for its HP 7 Plus in the budget market than elsewhere.