HP has finally drawn a line under its ill-fated webOS adventure by announcing the Android-based Slate 7, which will be hitting the shelves in April with an eyebrow-raising price tag.
Admittedly it won't be quite as cheap as the TouchPad was during the height of the webOS fire sale, but a $169 launch price suggests things hopefully won't get to that point this time around.
Sadly the HP Slate 7 is a far more conservative prospect than the TouchPad all round, but HP is probably happy to accept being just another player in the low-cost 7in Android tablet game for now. At least it's actually in the tablet game again.
And at first glance, the HP Slate 7 really is “just another” basic Android tablet. In fact, visually the Slate 7 is not so much understated as almost completely anonymous... well, from the front anyway.
The rear view gives us the HP logo in polished silver on the chassis' matte stainless steel, red, or black background, which looks quite nice actually. But from the front you've got a screen, a black bezel and that's about it.
The basic spec is par for the course for an entry-level Android tablet, headed by a 7in 1,024 x 600 TFT and a dual-core (not quad-core as had been rumoured) Cortex-A9 processor clocked at 1.6GHz. Actually, we say par for the course, but in truth it's par for the course right now – come mid-year and the next wave of product releases, this could look fairly low-rent.
Things don't really improve further down the spec sheet: 8GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, a 3MP rear camera and VGA forward-facer, microSD slot... all very ho-hum.
HP clearly has half an eye on the Slate 7 as some kind of budget media device, as it comes with Beats Audio integration for superior audio reproduction, though of course supplying the listening equipment to experience it is your problem.
On top of that, HP also boasts that you'll get 5 hours of movie playback from the battery – no surprise looking at that mediocre resolution.
That may all sound a bit on the negative side, but let's call a spade a spade. Should that claimed $169 price tag (hopefully around £130) actually materialise, the Slate 7 will be a solid, uncomplicated effort at a good price from one of the best-known tech companies on the planet.
There's nothing at all wrong with that as a starting point, and for the ordinary punter that will be its key attraction. There's no need to get carried away.
But alas... speaking to The Verge on the eve of MWC today, HP senior VP Alberto Torres said of the Slate 7: “we're targeting the consumer who really wants an entertainment solution. We're far more competitive [on price than the Nexus 7], but it won't be competitive with something that's $300 today.”
But wait, but wait. “On the tablet side, it's entirely our intent to have a broad set of products on the market... to cover more segments of the market we'll need more products, and you'll see us aggressively pursue that over the year.”
“HP is the number one PC manufacturer in the world, and we want to be the number one computer vendor in the world. That means we need to be in the tablet space.”
So those plans to be better than number one didn't work out, then?