HP takes another stab at the tablet market

The maker of expensive printer ink, HP, has announced it is getting back into the tablet market with a $169 tablet powered by Android.

HP has been desperate to expand in mobile devices and reduce its dependence on the recession hit PC market.

The Slate 7 follows the 2011 failure of its WebOS-based TouchPad, which the company stopped selling after just seven weeks, citing poor demand.

Powered by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Slate 7 offers Google services including search functions, YouTube and Gmail, as well as Beats Audio for improved sound, HP said.

It weighs 13-ounces and includes access to apps and digital content through Google Play, and cameras on both sides of the 7-inch screen.

US sales of the Slate 7 to begin in April, and HP said the product offers a “compelling entry point” for people looking to buy tablets.

It has some tough competition in that bracket. There is Google’s Nexus 7 tablet which costs $199 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. HP also makes the ElitePad tablet for businesses, which is powered by Windows 8.

The Slate 7 is part of a multi-year plan by HP chief executive Meg Whitman to turn around the company, which has struggled thanks in part to moves to turn it into a business software company. The company’s market value has dropped by nearly two thirds since April 2010.

HP announced the Slate 7 on the eve of Mobile World Congress, the wireless industry trade show taking place this week in Barcelona, Spain.