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With Slate 6 and 7, HP looks to re-invigorate its smart phone efforts

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(Read caption) The HP Invent logo is pictured in front of Hewlett-Packard international offices in Meyrin near Geneva in this 2009 file photo.

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Later today, Hewlett-Packard will take the wraps off a pair of new phablets, according to the tech site Re/code. 

The devices, the Slate 6 and Slate 7 (the numbers refer to their 6- and 7-inch screen footprint) fall somewhere between the size of a traditional tablet and a smart phone. Both will be equipped with a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel one on the back; and both will run Google's Android Jellybean 4.2 mobile operating system. Release date is expected to be sometime next month. 

But North American and European consumers shouldn't get too excited: For now, the Slate 6 and 7 are destined solely for India. In an interview with Re/code, Ron Coughlin, the vice-president for the consumer PC business at HP, said the decision was based on what the company sees as a lot of untapped demand. 

"We see a need in India that we can meet," he told Re/code. "Consumers are looking for a way to consolidate devices. We think there’s an opportunity to enter a growing market where there’s an unmet need." 

This is not HP's first foray into the smart phone market. In 2010, the company purchased the device-maker Palm, and released a small handful of smart phones powered by webOS. But the phones received little traction on the market, and eventually HP sold off the webOS brand to LG, which said it would use the operating system in its own products, including the popular LG line of "smart" TV sets. 

Asked by Re/code whether the Slate 6 and 7 would find their way to other countries, Mr. Coughlin demurred. 

"I won’t say where or when, but you can expect us to do more in the coming months," he said. "We’ll be talking about this in a more expansive way. But right now we’re focused on a successful launch in India." 


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