HP Quietly Touts iPad Rival

HP Slate expected to be the first tablet-style device based on Windows 7.

While the newly released Apple iPad commanded the attention of the tech world, Hewlett-Packard Co. quietly promoted its forthcoming alternative -- the Slate -- expected to be the first tablet-style device based on Windows 7.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer first previewed the HP Slate at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. In February, a week after Apple Inc. 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.

The HP 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).

Specification Speculation
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 1.6GHz Z530 Atom processor with a UMA graphics accelerator for 1080p high-definition video and fixed 1GB of RAM.

HP will offer two levels of storage capacity -- 32GB and 64GB -- 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 display is slightly smaller than the iPad screen. The HP Slate will offer five hours of battery life to the iPad's 10.

Apple reported more than 450,000 iPad sales in the first week. One iPad buyer, Andrew Brust, director of new technology at Gold Certified Partner twentysix New York, said the HP Slate would look more promising if it incorporated the technology planned for the Microsoft 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 explains. "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.