Unnamed sources claim that HP is planning to offer a $99 Android tablet in Walmart stores in the next several weeks targeting the back-to-school crowd. The news follows Google's announcement on Wednesday that it will launch a Textbook section in its Play store. Publishers Cengage, Wiley, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Macmillan will allow customers to either rent or purchase discounted digital textbooks from the virtual store. A $99 tablet would seemingly be the perfect fit.
Sources claim the $99 tablet will feature a 7 inch screen and a single-core "Medfield" chip from Intel (the Atom Z24610?). It will be manufactured by China-based BYD, and serve as its second tablet produced by the company for the American retail giant. The sources didn't provide any additional hardware information.
Could it be that HP will merely discount its current Slate 7 tablet with 8 GB of storage? HP is already selling this model for $139.99 directly from its website, as are Walmart, Staples and Best Buy. It would not be surprising to see the company knock another $40 off the price for a limited time exclusively at Walmart to push the tablet out to students.
Whether it’s the Slate 7 or a new 7 inch product, it would be the second time HP offered a $99 tablet if the rumor is true. In July 2011 after the webOS-powered TouchPad failed to generate any sales, the company dropped its price from $499 to a mere $99. The device suddenly sold like hotcakes and supplies were quickly depleted, but HP took a huge financial hit which in turn called for a company reorganization and a new focus.
Part of that new focus is offering the 7 inch Slate 7 tablet, but selling a $99 tablet would not only undercut long-time partner Microsoft, but Google's own Nexus 7 tablets. So-called "market watchers" have predicted for some time that sub-$100 tablets would appear in the third quarter at the earliest, and they suspect that other vendors will be forced to follow HP's lead if it does indeed offer a $99 pricetag.
Then again, if HP is offering a new product, its popularity may depend on the overall quality; consumers would rather pay a higher price for a solution with better components and services. As sources point out, a single-core solution amidst quad-core competitors could have a hard time attracting customers despite the low price.
The Slate 7 has a current review average of 62 out of 100, with the display serving as the worst feature and its durability as its best component. The device has a dual-core Cortex-A9 chip clocked at 1.6 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, a VGA camera on the front and a 3MP camera on the back.