The HP Slate 7 is beyond fashionably late to the Android tablet party, but it tries to make up for its tardiness with a very low price. When the device arrives in April, HP's first Google-powered tablet just announced at this year's Mobile World Congress will cost just $169. That's $30 less than the the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD. So how does this value-priced device stand out? HP is playing up the Slate 7′s Beats Audio sound and wireless printing capabilities.
The Slate 7 certainly doesn't look like a $169 tablet, thanks to its stainless steel frame and soft-touch back that's available in gray or red. The device measures .42 inches thick (about the same as the Kindle Fire HD‘s .41 inches) and weighs 13.05 ounces, making this tablet lighter than the Fire (13.9 ounces) but heavier than the Nexus 7 (12 ounces). The Slate 7 has a microSD card slot and microUSB port.
To differentiate its tablet, the Slate 7 is the first with Beats Audio built in, which is designed to deliver richer and more robust sound. According to Alberto Torres, HP's senior vice president of its Mobility Global Business Unit, Beats really kicks in when you're using headphones. However, the Slate 7 does sport stereo speakers. As you might expect from HP, the Slate 7 has wireless printing capabilities via ePrint. The app lets you print from most applications.
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The Slate 7 does skimp on some specs for its low price. For starters, the 1024 x 600-pixel display has a lower resolution than the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 (both 1280 x 800). On the other hand, HP says its High-aperture-ratio Field Fringe Switching (HFFS) technology gives its panel wide viewing angles, whether you're viewing documents or playing Angry Birds Space.
Powering this Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet is a 1.6-GHz ARM A9 dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, and you'll find 8GB of storage on board. The Slate 7 features a VGA camera up front and a fairly low-res 3-MP camera on the back. By comparison, the Nexus 7 boasts a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, though HP claims that its device offers swift performance.
When we asked HP's Torres whether shoppers will just opt for the faster Nexus 7 or more family friendly Kindle Fire HD for $30 more, he told us that "we are going to have a very strong value proposition with Beats Audio and that the design is far superior than those other tablets that you mention." Torres also reminded us that HP "wants to be the leader in tablets so to expect other price points." In other words, don't be surprised to see a larger, more premium Android Slates in HP's lineup in the not too distant future.
Stay tuned for our hands-on impressions of the Slate 7 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.