2011 was a crazy year when both HP and RIM threw their iPad-challenging tablets at the market, and then effectively in the trashcan. 2013 has seen both make comebacks, with HP's new Android Slate 7 a more humble competitor.
Rebuilding a Brand...
HP has done amazingly well out of printers, PCs and the like at both business and consumer ends. And, the HP iPAQ helped get the whole smartphone thing get started. But, when it came to tablets, all that legacy and brand came to nothing as the company launched and ditched the Palm-powered TouchPad within just a couple of months.
Hopefully having learned its lesson, HP is back again, with a device that follows the Android herd. Powered by a dual-core 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A9 chip, it comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB storage, there's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and front and rear cameras.
Jazzing things up a little are a pair of Beats Audio stereo speakers, all within a sub 11-mm thick case with a rubber exterior for a firm grip. The FFS+ screen offers 1024 x 600 resolution LCD touchscreen display, with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean running the show.
...In a Hyper-Tough Market
However, there are pretty much endless other choices out there in this category, with the new Galaxy Note 8 and Ubuntu's own tablet ambitions announced in just the last week. While the HP Slate 7 isn't too costly at US$ 169, it lacks some of the gizmos and extras to be found in top-selling rivals, which might see it overlooked.
Perhaps the most galling part for HP is it having to hype Google's apps and services in the press release, with no ecosystem of its own to call home, and generate revenue from. That follows on from HP's launch of a Google-powered Chromebook.
However, this seems to be just the start of HP's reignited ambitions in the tablet market, "HP will offer a range of form factors and leverage an array of operating systems," says Alberto Torres, senior vice president, Mobility Global Business Unit, HP. Which means we should see more devices in the coming months.