HP heads to India for "Voice Tablets" launch

Hewlett-Packard has put the smartphone rumours to rest with the launch of two mobile devices slated to hit shelves in India next month.

The 6in HP Slate6 Voice Tab (pictured) and the 7in HP Slate7 Voice Tab phablets are aimed at on-the-go multitaskers who want to access email and surf the web between playing games and streaming videos.

"Consumers are looking to consolidate their phones and tablets, which is propelling the voice tablet market," Ron Coughlin, senior vice president of HP's Consumer Personal Systems Group, said in a statement. "This is an exciting new category that represents a meaningful growth opportunity for HP."

The full-featured tablets are powered by Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and a quad-core processor, both with a 3G Dual SIM Dual Standby feature, for voice connectivity and high performance levels, as well as 16GB of internal storage, and support for MicroSD cards up to 32GB.

In an interview with Re/code, Coughlin said the smaller device sports a 1,280 x 720-pixel display, while its larger sibling comes in at 1,280 x 800. Both have an IPS display, front-facing stereo speakers, and a 2-megapixel front-facing cam and 5-megapixel rear camera with flash.

The compact slate is slim enough to fit into a back pocket or handbag, and features HP's pixilated, scratch-resistant back cover design.

Don't get too excited about the new devices, though. HP is focusing its handset launch on the growing, still undefined "phablet" market in India.

HP did not reveal a launch date or pricing, but HP CEO Meg Whitman revealed in December 2013 that the company would be "taking another stab at the crowded mobile-phone industry" in an effort to rejuvenate HP.

Targeting India in this venture makes sense when you consider the results of a recent survey that found India is one of the most technologically forward thinking consumer countries.

HP abandoned its last, nascent effort to develop smartphones using the WebOS mobile operating system a couple of years ago. In 2011, the computing giant killed its consumer tablet, the Touchpad, and ended support for WebOS devices, effectively taking a mulligan on its 2010 acquisition of WebOS developer and handset maker Palm. Eventually, LG purchased WebOS and recently introduced a TV based on the OS.