Hisense, Walmart Execs Outline Tablets Deal

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NEW YORK – Hisense recently launched its first two Wi-Fi-only Android-based tablets through more than 3,000 Walmart stores across the country, offering affordable prices, high-value feature sets, and, in one model, connectivity with select Hisense TV models.

The tablets include the Sero 7 LT (light), which carries a $99.99 suggested retail, and the Sero 7 Pro, which carries a $149 suggested retail.

Both models are available now exclusively through Walmart and Walmart.com, the companies said.

Jonathan Frank, Hisense marketing VP, said to win in the highly competitive tablet space, the company needed to come up with a unique product at a competitive price.

The Sero 7 tablets “win on color accuracy. They win on screen brightness. They win on leading battery performance as documented by an independent third-party test. They win with a blazing-fast processor from innovation powerhouse Nvidia, and they win on connectivity and content delivery as well as furthering the connected home ecosystem,” Frank said.

Peter Erdman, Hisense consumer electronics VP, said that for Walmart, Hisense wanted to hit a couple of key entry price points for the tablet category. The retailer will have an exclusive on the units, but Hisense expects to broaden distribution to other accounts on second-generation models coming at an unspecified time in the future.

Those newer models will also offer deeper levels of second-screen capability, and other features, Erdman said, adding that the company is also working to offer an LTE cell-enabled product, but no service provider partners were ready to be announced.

Although Walmart will carry the products exclusively, store executives stopped short of calling them the chain’s private-label tablets, or Walmart’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle.

Rather, Kevin O’Connor, Walmart VP and general merchandising manager, said the discounter is looking to offer its customers a range of high-value tablets, from a number of brands. In working to develop the first Hisense offerings, Walmart was determined not to simply add “another $99 tablet.” Instead the new models will include advanced-level processing from Nvidia, which can be used to power a range of apps, including Walmart’s Vudu movie-streaming service, as well as apps for Walmart.com and Sams.com shopping, Facebook, Pandora, Kings Office and other popular selections carried in the Google Play store.

“[The] announcement from Hisense underscores our commitment to give customers access to a range of high-quality tablets at low prices,” O’Connor said.

“This is just one example of how we are working with leading technology companies to expand our current assortment of brandname tablets, as well as bring to market new products that deliver on quality and price.”

Erdman said Hisense, one of China’s largest consumer electronics manufacturers, will use the tablets and forthcoming 4K Ultra HDTVs, among other products, in a brand building effort this year. The campaign will leverage print, co-op and online vehicles, in addition to the extensive support that the Walmart presence brings the brand.

Erdman said that the new Hisense tablets may not fit in the top tier of tablets on the market yet, “because our name isn’t there. But technology wise, we’ll be in that zone. We didn’t want to put out a $49 kiddy-type product. It had to be something that was really consumer friendly, and then had something inside that was meaningful.”

The Pro version of the new Sero 7 tablets will connect with select Hisense TVs for a range of second-screen uses, Erdman pointed out, using nearfield communications (NFC) wireless connectivity and Bluetooth connections.

Both models also offer MHL capability for wired connectivity to MHL-supported HDMI inputs on select TVs.

Meanwhile, the Sero 7 LT and Pro versions each employ 7-inch LCD touchscreens. The LT version will offer 1,024 by 600 resolution and the Pro version will be 1,280 by 720.

At the heart of both tablets are Nvidia processors — a 1.6Ghz dual-core version in the LT and a 1.3GHz Tegra 3 T30 quad-core processor in the Pro.

For imaging, the LT version includes a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, while the Pro version will feature a 5-megapixel autofocus rear-facing camera with flash and a 2-megapixel front facing camera.

The Pro also offers 8GB of internal storage capacity to the LT’s 4GB. Both offer 1GB of RAM. Extra storage can be added via MicroSD (up to 32GB) cards on both models. The LT uses an Android 4.1 operating system and the Pro offers Android 4.2.

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