After a long hiatus and the ill-fated, webOS-based TouchPad, HP is back in the tablet game. Now an official Android partner, the company has just debuted the HP Slate 7, a 7in Android tablet targeted squarely at consumers.
On the surface there's little that's remarkable about the HP Slate 7 except its price. At $199, however, that price is a big deal. This is one of the cheapest tablets on the market, bettering even Google's low-cost Nexus 7.
For that asking price the HP Slate 7 gets Beats Audio integration and a stainless-steel frame. There's also "soft black paint" finish on the back which is available in grey or red variants. Unlike smartphones, the tablet market has been largely devoid of colour options so it's a refreshing change.
Specifications are reasonable considering the low price tag but it's largely a pretty standard affair. The Slate 7 is powered by an 1.6GHz ARM dual-core processor, has 1GB of RAM and comes with 8GB of internal memory. There's also a microSD card to expand the memory if needed, along with a front-facing VGA camera for video calls and a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera for photos and videos.
The Slate 7 comes with a 7in screen with a resolution of 1024×600, which is a lower resolution than both the Apple iPad mini and the Nexus 7. HP does claim the use of a "high-aperture-ratio Field Fringe Switching (HFFS) panel" that claims to offer wide viewing angles, but we'll have to put those claims to the test when we get our hands on a review unit.
The HP Slate 7 will initially ship with what appears to be an almost stock, vanilla version of Google's Android 4.1 'Jelly Bean' OS. Aside from a HP ePrint app that will come pre-loaded, the experience using the Slate 7 is likely to be almost identical to the Nexus 7. HP hasn't confirmed any details about software upgrades just yet.
HP says the Slate 7 is expected to be available in Australia from April and will retail from $199.