Hewlett-Packard’s new Android tablet, unveiled Monday as a companion to its latest PhotoSmart eStation all-in-one printer, isn’t suitable for applications found in the Android Market because of its screen size.
The device comes with a 7-inch screen, and applications in the Android Market store are designed for smaller screens, said Jeff Walter, outbound marketing manager of inkjet and Web solutions business at HP, during a press event in New York.
“We have a 7-inch display and most Android apps are not designed for 7-inch displays,” Walter said. “For us this is all about content, the things that people want in a printed form on a regular basis.”
The device is focused on providing access to content that can be printed, such as photos, articles, e-mail, recipes or e-books, Walter said. The company has built in customized Android applications and widgets for the device to provide quick access to such content. Additional applications will be available through HP’s application store.
“You won’t play [games] on this,” Walter said. “It’s all about giving people information wherever they are and when they want.”
The company has partnered with 45 companies to offer applications that can provide access to content and print documents through the device. HP is also providing a full browser with the tablet and access to social media applications such as Facebook. The user interface is customizable and can be tweaked to meet user needs, Walter said.
The company didn’t immediately specify what version of Android the tablet runs, but Walter said the company retooled Android specifically for this device.
Many companies including Samsung and Toshiba have announced tablets based on Android 2.2, which is code-named Froyo. Many smartphones with screens up to 4.3 inches are already based on Froyo. A Google executive recently told enthusiast site TechRadar that Android wasn’t mature, and applications in the Android Market were not designed for use on larger screens. Some speculate about whether Google is targeting tablets through the next version of Android, or with Chrome OS, which was originally designed for netbooks.
HP has already said it was developing multiple versions of tablets, including a consumer tablet based on the WebOS operating system and a business tablet called the HP Slate with Windows 7. Walter declined to comment on the WebOS tablet, adding that the printer tablet will retain its niche as a printer companion.
The device will complement “family living,” Walter said. For example, the users will be able to print color books for kids, or recipes, which could be difficult from a generic media tablet. The device includes 802.11n wireless capabilities and will work with all HP wireless printers.