>After a year of licking its wounds, HP is making its long-overdue return to consumer tablets. But it’s not exactly a triumphant one.

At Mobile World Congress today, the company announced the Slate 7, its new 7-inch, $170 Android tablet

Unlike the 10-inch, iPad-focused TouchPad, the Slate 7 is all about snatching some of the tablet market away from devices like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. HP is leaving the 10-inch tablet space to Apple, at least for now.

The Slate 7’s internals are decent, but uninspiring: dual-core ARM A9 processor, 1024 x 600 FFS+ display, 16GB of RAM, and 8GB memory. It also comes with a pair of cameras and Beats Audio. Like I said: It’s decent, but no blockbuster.

Off the bat, the biggest issue for the Slate 7 is differentiation. Besides the $170 price tag  there isn’t too much here that you can’t get with the slightly more expensive — but far more capable — Nexus 7. While it’s nice to see HP back on its feet tablet-wise, I’m having a tough time figuring out what the Slate 7’s angle is.

Fortunately, HP’s renewed tablet ambitions are larger than just one device, or even Android. “To address the growing interest in tablets among consumers and businesses alike, HP will offer a range of form factors, leveraging an array of operating systems,”  HP mobility chief Alberto Torres said in a statement.

Translation: HP is going multi-platform, so expect a wide range of devices in the near future. My only hope is that they will more interesting than the Slate 7 — at least for HP’s sake.