Hewlett Packard Quietly Touts iPad Rival

While Apple's newly released iPad is dominating the attention of the tech world, Hewlett-Packard Co. this week is quietly promoting its forthcoming alternative -- the Slate -- expected to be the first tablet-based device based on Windows 7.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer first previewed HP's Slate at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. In February, a week after Apple announced plans for the iPad, HP released a video previewing the Slate. Like the iPad, the HP Slate will have a similar form factor and a multi-touch interface.

HP's newly released video offers a closer view of the Slate, playing up some key features that are notably missing in the iPad. Chief among them is its support for Adobe Flash and the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR). Apple CEO Steve Jobs has denounced Flash and AIR as buggy, though Adobe says the technology is the basis of 75 percent of the Web's video.

Also, unlike the iPad, the Slate will also support external storage via an SD card slot and a built-in USB interface (the iPad has a separate bridge that links to a USB connector).

While HP is not commenting on specs not revealed, Engadget posted what appears to be a leaked internal document that compares the Slate to the iPad. The document states the first Slate will have an Intel 1.6 Ghz Z530 Atom processor with a UMA graphics accelerator for 1080p high definition video and fixed 1 GB of RAM.

HP will offer two levels of storage capacity, 32/64 GB, with a starting price of $549. While the WiFi connectivity on the iPad will be a faster using the newest 802.11n standard, the Slate will only support 802.11g. The Slate will have optional support for 3G cellular networks but it remains unclear which carriers it will work with. The Slate at 8.9-inches with a 1024x600 resolution display is slightly smaller than the iPad's 9.7-inch 1024x768 screen.

The HP Slate will offer about half the battery life of the iPad at 5 hours, compared with almost 10 for Apple's device.

Apple has reported 300,000 iPads were sold on Saturday, the first day the devices were made available (many were pre-ordered). One of those customers was Andrew Brust, director of new technology at Microsoft Gold Certified Partner twentysix New York and author of the Visual Studio Magazine Redmond Diary blog, where he reviewed his new iPad.

After viewing HP's video, Brust said HP's Slate would look more promising if it incorporated the technology slated for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series. "It seems that HP has built their own UI on top of Windows to optimize finger-friendliness, which is a reasonable approach," Brust said. "What I hope Microsoft would do is take the Metro UI that they have for the phone and scale that up for the tablet and offer that to the broad array of OEMs."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.