NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is getting back into the smartphone business. HP officially announced two new "Voice Tablets" the first to run on Google's (GOOG) Android operating system.
India will be the first launch market for both devices.
By calling the products Voice Tablets, HP is attempting to downplay their overall size. The HP Slate6 (with a 6-inch display) and the HP Slate7 (with a giant 7-inch screen) are "phablets" or tablet-sized phones. Both are designed to "help the next generation of mobile customers multitask on the go."
HP shares were off 0.76% to $28.63 in early New York trading.
Ron Coughlin, senior vice president of the company's consumer personal systems group, said he believes "consumers are looking to consolidate their phones and tablets, which is propelling the voice tablet market."
Information concerning what's actually inside the new devices is somewhat vague. The tablets are said to have unspecified quad-core processors, IPS displays, dual-SIM, 3G radios, front and rear HD cameras, front-firing stereo speakers and both will run a version of Android.
The most interesting feature is the 3G cellular voice calling in devices this large. There is no word on whether HP expects these giant devices to be held up to one's ear or used as speaker phones. The company doesn't say much about the size/shape/format factor but does boast "the stylish, compact design is slim enough to fit nicely in the pocket and features a premium pixelated, scratch-resistant back cover design. "
This is HP's third big venture into the smartphone market. In the early 2000s, HP was the top producer of smartphones which ran on Microsoft's (MSFT) Pocket PC/Windows Mobile operating system. In April 2010, HP bought Palm and its ill-fated webOS system for $1.2 billion in cash. A little more than a year later, after two CEO changes, HP dumped its webOS platform, smartphones and tablets.
HP said its new Android new models are "expected to be available" next month.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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