By Patrick Avenell

Four days before the launch of is TouchPad tablet through Harvey Norman, HP has slashed the prices of both the 16GB and 32GB models, bringing them in line, at face value, with US pricing.

After initially being priced at RRP $599 (16GB) and $699 (32GB), HP today issued a brief statement saying these prices had been adjusted to RRP $499 for the 16GB model and $599 for the 32GB model. Retailers are free to sell both these tablets at any price they choose.

These new RRPs match the launch prices recommended by HP for the US market.

“HP continually evaluates pricing for its products and is pleased to offer a permanently reduced price on the HP TouchPad products effective immediately,” said a spokesperson. “Now consumers can have all the benefits of webOS: multitasking, Synergy and Just Type starting price from $499, including GST.

“This move will help bring the HP TouchPad and webOS to a larger audience, benefitting consumers and developers.”

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In loosely related news, HTC has today announced a “strategic partnership” with Beats Electronics, makers of the Beats by Dr Dre brand of audio products.

Beats by Dr Dre is incorporated onto the HP TouchPad to provide “amazing sound quality”.

Here’s HTC CEO Peter Chou:

“Beats is a unique sound experience that is much more than headphones. The Beats team knows what music quality is and we are very excited to be partnering with them,” he said. “It’s an exciting brand that has been built around providing something very special, and we believe our strategic partnership will provide customers with unbeatable sound on HTC phones.

“We obsess over every detail of a consumer’s mobile experience and audio is a critical part of that experience.”

In addition to Dr Dre, Beats also has branded audio products by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Diddy (the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy).

Beats hardware is distributed in Australia by Convoy International.