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HP re-enters smartphone game in India, for now…

Wind back a few years at HP and you’ll recall the short-lived existence of a couple things: Leo Apotheker and Palm webOS.

Neither were successful at making HP a better brand or for bringing new things to a saturated market (or maybe HP wasn’t successful at making Palm a better brand?). In any case, its seems HP is taking another stab at one of these things, but not in the conventional way. And no, Leo isn’t coming back.

Unlike webOS’ celebrity endorser, Manny Pacquiáo, HP’s latest foray into the mobile space will be getting chummy with one of Bollywood’s leading ladies, Deepika Padukone.

I’m a phan of the phablet form factor so I couldn’t be happier that HP has launched a 6” and 7” phablet. However, HP is not using the phablet naming convention we are accustomed to.

Enter the HP Slate VoiceTabs, or more concisely, the HP Slate6 VoiceTab and HP Slate7 VoiceTab.

However, HP has flipped the script on what the VoiceTab is and is not. The VoiceTabs are Android tablets with voice calling capabilities. In other words, tablet-first, voice-second.

With this in mind, it is no wonder that HP has squarely targeted the emerging market in Asia – namely India – as the launch bed and testing ground – it’s said that the next billion ‘PCs’ are to come out of that region.

Only time will tell if these devices make their way into other countries and since I’m yet to get my hands on one, the written tech spec is all I can go by for now.

Looking at the specs on HP India’s site (URL above), both devices have exactly the same inners, except for the obvious screen res differential and battery sizes. The VoiceTabs pack a decent punch for their size and RRP (~$400 through rough currency conversion for the Slate6 VoiceTab), but I do have complaints:

  1. No 4G support (3G/GPRS/Edge)  « not acceptable for developed countries, but understandable for the launch market
  2. 5MP camera. Really? Is that it?  😐

These are my complaints, but I would really need to see one in the flesh and play around with it for a couple weeks to formulate a final opinion. 

My guess is that it will be hard to launch a 3G dual SIM phone in Australia, HP would have to build them with 4G and perhaps drop the dual SIM approach to get any traction, so it really depends on where HP wants to play. 

(Photo credits: HP.com; http://www8.hp.com/in/en/ads/phablets/products.html)


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