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.

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Reader Comments:

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Tue, Apr 13, 2010 Rick Tulsa, OK

It's all about the software. Desktop software is not suitable for tablet use. Microsoft should have spent its time developing a new interface instead of just adapting Windows. They're late to the game as usual, just coming out with a new clean sheet approach to its smartphone software. Question is, where's its cleansheet tablet software?

Fri, Apr 9, 2010 Al WI

I like the form factor of the iPad and have heard the display is excellent. However, why can't we have true innovation by providing a device in that form factor that is a real computer, as opposed to a bunch of built-in apps and Apple blessed applications? I want a real file system. I want to be able to copy files for later reference. Syncing is a nice idea for easy back-ups but I don't want to be forced to use some vendor's system such as iTunes. I want to VPN or use SSH to remotely get to the office. I want to multitask!!! I want to run whatever application I choose to run. I want to use an external keyboard, display, and mouse. Microsoft is in a far better position to pull of this feat than any other company yet I don't know why their marketing machine keeps letting them down. Everyone knows about the iPad but few know about Microsoft's direction other than maybe a few tidbits about Mobile 7.

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 Apple Lover

It's really sad how Apple missed the boat with the iPad. HP is hugely in touch with what and how the public would use the device. The absence of USB on the iPad was a huge mistake. It looks like HP knows exactly what is expected and is delivering. Thanks to Microsoft for supplying a top notch enterprise ready, scalable and supportable OS for the Slate. Apple just seems to rehash what they already have. Sad Steve, very sad.

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 dearapplelovers MI

Funny from Apple lovers, IPAD is not an innovation. It is an overblown iphone/ipod touch which is made of all others ideas. Real Innovations are Surface table & Natal which r from Microsoft.

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 Sue Rutter SF

HP's tablet is really a sad reflection on Microsoft's inability to innovate, or to predict the future direction of the computing market. For a start, it's a "tablet" running on the traditional x86 PC platform. The portable "slate" market is different. The slates use telephone hardware and the ARM processor, a sector where Microsoft has been unable to succeed. The iPad is the first of a new category. However, there will soon be many competitors on the market, running Google's Android operating system. The slates have run a new breed of software written for multitouch screens, rather than Microsoft's failed attempt at shoe-horning PC software onto a touch screen.

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