As rumored 10 days ago, Hewlett-Packard(NYSE: HPQ) is climbing back into the tablet business with an Android-based, consumer-targeted, mobile device the vendor will showcase today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The HP Slate 7, which runs Jelly Bean 4.1, features a 7-inch screen--the same size as Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) Kindle Fire--housed in a stainless steel frame measuring 10.7mm by 197mm by 116mm. It weighs 13 ounces and is powered by an ARM Dual Core Cortex-A9 1.6 GHz processor. The device comes with 8GB of storage. The unit’s display resolution is only 1024x600, although it features a wide viewing panel.
HP also has included its Beats Audio technology along with a 3MP camera in the back and a front-facing VGA camera. HP figures printing will set the Slate 7 apart from its competitors—it's got print-on-the-go capability to print directly from most applications through HP ePrint technology. As you might expect, there’s Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) stuff included as well—Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Hangouts.
The unit will go on sale in April for $169 through hpdirect.com. There’s no word so far on whether retailers or channel partners also will carry the Slate 7.
For HP, a longtime close partner with Microsoft, this is the third event in which it seemed to snub (or at the very least steer away from) the folks in Redmond—first when it backpedaled from a planned Windows RT tablet last June, then earlier this month in delivering the Pavilion 14 Chromebook laptop, and now the Slate 7.
According to Alberto Torres, HP Mobility senior vice president, what we’re seeing is stage two of a three-part plan to attack the tablet market. At the enterprise level, HP’s entry is the Windows 8-based ElitePad 900, which Torres said “already is getting traction in the marketplace.” The Slate 7 is HP’s consumer tablet, and, still in the works is what he called a “premium consumer product—a Bring Your Own solution for the SMB crowd. Think of a device built with a ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude.”
Okay, that sounds fine. But HP's choice to go with Android for a consumer tablet and Windows 8 for the enterprise pretty much lays to rest any lingering questions about whether HP will come out with a Windows RT device. Doesn’t seem too likely now, does it?