Psst! Want a cheap tablet?

HP figured out what to do with all those unsold tablets. Friday they dropped the price in Canada to $99 and $149, depending on the memory. And this weekend, they’re doing the same in the States.

They’re underpowered and they’re orphans, but at that price, I’ll bet they’ll sell.

There’s a rumor floating around that Web OS runs twice as fast on Apple Ipad hardware as it does on HP’s own. I have no idea if it’s true or not. I’m skeptical. But for 99 bucks, most people will be willing to forgive the subpar performance, which is subpar whether the rumor is true or not.

And one has to assume they’ll never gain a serious developer following. There’ll probably be some–there’s still some development going on for the Sega Dreamcast, after all these years–but for the time being, at least, it’s useful as a handheld web browser, particularly if you avoid Flash sites, and as an e-reader. The Kindle app makes it a cheap color alternative to the Kindle. And yes, with some hocus-pocus, you can read non-Kindle books with a Kindle app.

And who knows, maybe someone will hack Android to run on the HP Touchpad hardware. It has a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon at its heart, so it ought to be able to run Android. At which point it would no longer be an orphan. Hint: Watch XDA Developers. They’re talking about it over there, but it’s all speculation until someone releases something. Consider it a lottery ticket, not a guarantee.

Interested? Here’s the 16 GB model, and here’s the 32 GB model. As of now (Friday night) they’re still at their regular price, but come Saturday, Aug. 20, they should drop to the closeout price.

Update: I haven’t seen any US pricing at $99 yet, at least not online. I’ll keep an eye out as time permits and I’ll update this as I learn more. Office Depot is selling them in stores only for $129 (16 GB) and $149 (32 GB).

A couple more updates: Some stores seem to have shipped their units back to HP to deal with. Some stores are selling them at full-price and promising to honor the lower prices if and when they drop. But some Staples locations seem to have them in-store at the new prices. Online, Staples has them at the old price. There are some reports of units appearing on Ebay, at marked-up prices, like what happened in the early days of the Nintendo Wii. Don’t overpay by much. Perhaps at a $50-$100 premium these tablets are still worth it, but their value at higher prices is a bit more questionable. It’s a so-so tablet with a very questionable future. Retail doesn’t move at Internet speeds. I think it would make sense for stores to sell them at the lower prices rather than sending them back to HP–it draws traffic to the stores–but what do I know? I haven’t worked retail in 16 years.

Amazon still has them at the old price, and only from third-party vendors. I suspect if Amazon sells them, it may be under a new SKU. I’ll change the links above if that happens. I watched Amazon move a few units very late Friday night at $299 and $349, which seems to confirm my suspicions that these tablets would have done well if they’d been half the price of an Apple unit.

If anyone else has any leads, feel free to use the comments box.

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One thought on “Psst! Want a cheap tablet?

  • August 20, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Once I see the drop in price, I think I’ll snag one of these puppies!

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