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11:20 AM

HP's $99 Android Tablet

Tablet bargain seekers have another option in HP's new $99 Android tablet, but the device's specs and battery life disappoint.

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HP has no interest in the high-end tablet market. Instead, it seems happy to play below the middle of the market with inexpensive slates. HP's latest piece of hardware includes a 7-inch screen and a rock-bottom price point.

The HP 7 Plus recently appeared on HP's website and isn't available at brick-and-mortar retailers. As one might expect with a tablet priced at $99, the HP 7 Plus doesn't offer much in the way of specs and features. The 7-inch display offers a lowly resolution, at just 1024 x 600 pixels. To put that into perspective, the 2012-era Nexus 7 had a 1280 x 800 pixel display. The HP's ARM Cortex-A7 processor runs four cores clocked at 1 GHz each. It is paired with 1 GB of RAM.

Other hardware features include a 2-megapixel main camera and a 0.3-pixel (or VGA) user-facing camera. The tablet includes 8 GB of built-in storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. Further, HP is including 25 GB of cloud storage from Box "for life." The HP 7 Plus supports 802.11b/g/n WiFi, but there's no mention of Bluetooth or GPS, let alone LTE.

[Meanwhile, Microsoft's new Surface tablet goes high-end, with prices to match. Read Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 8 Winning Features.]

Perhaps the biggest pain point is the battery. The 2,800 mAh lithium-polymer power source (which is smaller than that of today's leading smartphones) is good for only 5 hours and 30 minutes of usage. In comparison, most of today's tablets offer between 8 and 10 hours of battery life. The tablet offers the expected set of ports, including a USB 2.0 port for charging and data transfer and a 3.5 mm headset jack.

At 7.58 x 4.8 x 0.32 inches, the 7 Plus has a small footprint. HP says the tablet weighs 0.65 pounds, which is about average for this class of device. It runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.

HP's $99 7 Plus
HP's $99 7 Plus

For $50 more, the HP Slate 7 Plus makes significant improvements to the screen, processor, battery, and camera.

HP is relying heavily on its brand to sell the 7 Plus. Its ho-hum specs leave little to separate the HP 7 Plus from a dozen other $99 tablets. Its marketing language even hints at this: "The HP 7 Plus delivers technology you can count on, from a brand you can trust."

For many users, $99 is within impulse purchase range, and HP could practically sell this tablet in vending machines or at interstate rest stops. The tablet will likely appeal to users who want something more than their smartphones for surfing the web at home but who don't need full-powered, top-of-the-line devices.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 12:41:17 PM
RE : HP's $99 Android Tablet
Really? At this time hp still manufactures 2 mp cameras? The battery life is also very inferior. I wouldn't buy the device for that price ($99) @Lorna I agree with you that the device should be left for little children to play with. Hp should do better, this is just but a drawback to them.
User Rank: Ninja
5/23/2014 | 8:02:26 AM
Re: Device for kids
I would have thought that HP learned their lesson with the first TouchPad.  I remember it being an OK device but it wasn't until they were almost giving them away that anyone would touch them.  I see this to be about the same.  The hardware isn't spectacular so why pay a premium for the HP label?  As you noted the off brand versions with similar hardware specs are $20-30 less expensive.
User Rank: Strategist
5/22/2014 | 9:52:53 PM
Re: Device for kids
They probably won't sell a whole lot of them but they are still useful. I have a off brand that I paid $79 for with a keyboard cover that was another $10.    It will let me surf the web, skype, watch movies, etc... pretty much everything that can be done on a basic pad.   No, it isn't fast but for what it gets used for it doesn't need to be.  
You have a good point in the idea that's is good for a kid.  It's the computer my young grandchildren get to play with when they come over.    It plays most of the simpler andriod games pretty well and the kids are happy with that. 
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2014 | 6:50:43 PM
Re: Disappointing battery
Even more important than battery life is battery reliability. Will the "5 hour battery" really provide 5 actual hours of service? I've found this to be a real issue with cheaper electronic devices.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/22/2014 | 6:43:38 PM
Disappointing battery
Battery life is a crucial factor to me and I would find the 5-hour version too restrictive.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
5/22/2014 | 4:11:38 PM
Re: Device for kids
It looks like a nice reading device for ebooks at the very least.
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2014 | 1:30:21 PM
Re: Device for kids
I agree! Also as a budget minded item for someone that is new to the tablet scene.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
5/22/2014 | 11:40:18 AM
Device for kids
I could see giving this to a child as opposed to letting a phone or iPad be used for Angry Birds. Beyond that, hard to see the U.S. market.
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