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HP rumoured to launch big budget blowers in the next week

HP's much-rumoured return to the smart phone game could come sooner than we were expecting.

HP could be about to get back in the smart phone game in a big way. According to The Information's sources, HP plans to launch 6- and 7-inch mobile devices before the end of the year. Which gives it five days.

Despite their big sizes -- this is well into phablet territory -- the devices will be pretty affordable. According to the sources, they'll sell for between $200 and $250 (£122 and £153) off contract. Though they won't be coming to the UK, not at first at least, as they'll be aimed at developing markets like India, China and the Philippines.

"HP will expand to additional mobility categories and form factors where we believe we can offer differentiated value to our customers," a company spokesperson told me. "We will bring smart phones to market but are not giving a timetable."

HP has had a couple of stabs at making mobiles before, both times by buying up another manufacturer. It bought Compaq, and marketed its iPaq at the beginning of the century. The iPaq subsequently died a death. HP then bought Palm and its Pre handset, and unveiled the HP Pre 3, which ran the Linux-based webOS operating system.

Just a day after the Pre 3 launched in the UK, HP announced it was discontinuing all webOS devices.

Rumours of another HP smartie have been doing the rounds for a while. Last year, HP's CEO Meg Whitman denied it had ambitions to launch another mobile. Whitman subsequently admitted that HP had to offer a smart phone, though she didn't put a date on when.

HP also launched its Slate 7 Android tablet earlier this year. It has a line-up of Android and Windows 8 slates waiting in the wings.

What do you think? Should HP launch another smart phone? Which OS should it run? Is there room for another operating system alongside iOS and Android? Let me know in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.

Update 2 January: Added comment from HP.