HP Planning to Release $99 Android Tablet through Walmart in Back-to-School Deal

July 25, 2013 - Written By Lucian Armasu

It seems HP is just starting to gets its feet wet in the Android world, and they’re now planning to release a new low-cost Android tablet, that will only be $99 and will be sold through Walmart – or at least, that’s what DigiTimes is reporting – as back-to-school demand increases for such tablets.

The US$99 tablet is manufactured by China-based BYD and is the second tablet that HP has outsourced to the China-based maker. The device adopts a 7-inch touch panel and Intel’s Medfield-based single-core processor.

I’m not expecting a whole lot from such a tablet (probably 1024×600 screen, 4 GB of storage, at most 1 GB of RAM, although it could very well be only 512MB), but I think the processor choice is very disappointing.  It’s a single core Intel Atom “Medfield” chip, which I think goes to show that HP still doesn’t really understand not only the mobile market, but making great products, for whatever price point they’re targetting, which is why people always expect average products at best from HP.

Their attitude towards making products seems to be that “they need to be in that market”, but “it doesn’t really matter how they’re there”, and that seems like a very wrong way to thing about things. If they want to achieve any kind of success, especially in a market, where they have almost no credibility,  unlike in the PC market where they’ve been riding their brand for years, and are one of the big leaders there, even though they’ve just lost the #1 position to Lenovo.

HP could’ve made this with a quad core Cortex A7, Mediatek chip, or even use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 equivalent, if they don’t feel like dealing with an Asian chip maker, and I think they will suffer marketing-wise for not choosing one of those chips. They still seem to think the Intel name matters in mobile, when it doesn’t. As a brand in mobile, the Intel name is virtually non-existent. Nobody goes into stores and says “give me an Android tablet with an Intel processor”.

So I’m not sure why they chose it. The only reason I think they did it, is because of corporate relationships – or in other words, they chose it not based on technical merits, but based on company politics. They obviously have a good relationship with Intel from the PC market, and they decided to just go with them for this, too, even though there are better alternatives, that are probably cheaper, too.

Moving on from what I think is a bad processor choice for this low-end tablet, this product should be a non-starter for education, unless it comes straight with Android 4.3. The restricted profiles Google introduced in 4.3 makes a lot of sense for the education environment. At I/O Google also announced a restricted zone of the Play Store for schools, and matching the two together should make HP’s tablet for schools a lot more compelling. So either they need to wait until they release it with Android 4.3 (ideal) or they promise to upgrade it within weeks (or before school starts).