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PreCentral: HP announces new HP Slate 7 tablet; the damn thing runs Android

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HP announces new HP Slate 7 tablet; the damn thing runs Android

We knew it was coming, but it still stings. HP today announced and unveiled at MWC in Barcelona their reentry into the tablet market with the HP Slate 7 tablet. The seven-inch tablet has a 1024x600 screen, a 1.6GHz Cortex A9 processor, 1GB of RAM, and a meager 8GB of onboard storage (though it may be augmented by an included microSD slot). And, in typical HP fashion, it also includes Beats Audio integration and an HP ePrint application.

The kicker: it runs Android. And not even the latest version of Android, no, it runs Android 4.1.1, and almost entirely unmodified from stock - the ePrint integration is an app - not the newer Android 4.2 that's been in the public since November 2012 (4.1.1 landed two months earlier than that). The Slate 7 also has no integrated GPS, no NFC, and no cellular radios to speak of. It's also around 11mm thick. The marquee feature of this low-end, moderately chunky (for 2013) disappointment of a tablet? The price: a surprising $169.

The Slate 7 compares most closely with the Asus Nexus 7, and though the Nexus 7 is $30 more expensive, it has a much better processor, is thinner, has a better screen, and doesn't depend on HP for updates. The Slate 7 also compares well to the unreleased TouchPad Go tablet, though it had a better rear camera. And a better screen. And wireless charging. And an option for cellular integration. And webOS. Though in the TouchPad Go's defense, it was supposed to come out 18 months ago.

If you're wondering if this new Slate 7 might be a tempting target for Open webOS porting, we have but one question to ask you: "With such pathetic specs, why bother?" There's a reason the Slate 7 will retail for $169, and that's because it's not that appealing of a tablet. It's likely the Slate 7 will be plenty open, if HP hasn't gone out of their way to lock it down, so putting Open webOS on it might not be that big of a leap (depending on the manufacturer of the processor and their receptiveness towards open source, that is). But as the WebOS Internals Twitter account pointed out today following the announcement, "With such 2010 specs, why would you bother?" Why, indeed.

Our dear friend Phil from Android Central went hands-on with the Slate 7 at MWC, and while he found the specifications and screen of the tablet in person as underwhelming as we have from a distance, he was at least impressed by the industrial design, even if it is a bit on the chunky side (see: price). The Slate 7 is perhaps a look into where HP's industrial design would have taken webOS tablets had HP followed through on their commitment to webOS after purchasing Palm instead of canceling the hardware program in a fit of stupidity.

And with that, we're not going to bother discussing the Slate 7 at any more length unless it for some reason is found to be running webOS. The tablet is due on shelves at US retail stores in April, which means we should expect it to be canceled around June anyway.

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