NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With no advanced warning - and even less fanfare - Hewlett Packard ( HPQ) has begun selling a new, inexpensive tablet on its U.S. Web site. It's priced to compete with popular tablets from Amazon ( AMZN), Barnes and Noble ( BKS), Dell and especially the Nexus 7 from Google ( GOOG) and Asus.
Simply called the HP8, this new device is described as "delivering entertainment where you want it", is "sleek and smart with technology you can trust" and "looks sharp with a suit and dynamite with denim".
Shares in Hewlett Packard were advancing 0.53% to $30.25 in New York premarket trading
Here is what you really need to know. The HP8 runs on a China-sourced, ARM-based ( ARMH), quad-core, smartphone-capable processor made by Allwinner. A quick Web search shows that company also produced a number of very low cost (under $50) small tablets of its own. The HP8 chip is mated to 1 GB of RAM and also offers microSD card expansion.
HP's new tablet sports a somewhat low-resolution (1024 by 768 pixels), 7.85-inch touchscreen, comes with 16 GB of internal storage, a 2 MP camera on the back and 0.3 MP shooter up front, a 3800 mAh rechargeable battery pack (said to provide up to seven hours of power) and runs on the Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) operating system.
The device also sports stereo speakers, comes in any color you want, as long as that color is silver, and weighs 11 ounces.
The HP8 retails for a penny less that $170.
One accessory of note is the $29.99 "HP8 Blue Tablet Case". It protects the screen, ports and back and folds to allow "dual viewing angles". At first glance it reminds one of Apple's (AAPL) Smart Cover/Smart Cases for iPads except the HP version is designed with four folds instead of three.
The Web site states the HP8 Blue Case comes in white, black and blue.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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