HP Releases Its $799 Slate, the Latest iPad Rival

After all Hewlett-Packard released its touchscreen tablet computer, Slate 500, that runs Windows OS, becoming the latest computer maker to jump into the fray following Apple ‘s debut of the iPad earlier this year.

Hewlett-Packard has unveiled its first product for the fast-growing tablet market, a US$799 device running Microsoft Windows that is aimed at business customers. Photo: HP

Hewlett-Packard released on Friday after all its touchscreen tablet computer that runs Windows OS, becoming the latest computer maker to jump into the fray following Apple ‘s debut of the iPad earlier this year, reports Wall Street Journal.

HP’s Slate 500 tablet can be bought on the company’s website for $799—above the price of most iPads, which range in price from $499 to $829, depending on storage space and wireless connectivity.

The HP Slate 500 is a Windows 7-based tablet PC with a 8.9-inch, 1024×600 resolution screen, a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 processor, a Crystal HD accelerator that should ensure smooth playback for HD (1080p) videos.

The tablet PC also features two gigabytes of RAM (recent rumors predicted 1 GB), and a 64GB SSD.  note: Apple’s iPads have a 9.7-inch screen.

It also has a USB port and two cameras: a 3-megapixel one on the back, and a VGA camera on the front for making video calls. It also has Wi-Fi but, quite disappointingly, no 3G connectivity.

These specifications make the Slate one of the most powerful tablets on the market, but its $799 price tag also makes it more expensive than its chief rivals. However, HP has envisioned the Slate as a device aimed at business customers.

HP's offering has an 8.9-inch, multi-touch-enabled screen, weighs 1.5 pounds and comes with 64 gigabytes (GB) of storage and a digital stylus pen. It gets five hours of battery life. Photo: HP

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer showed off a prototype of an HP tablet running Windows 7 at a technology conference in January, but the device is reaching consumers only 9 months later, and six months after the iPad went on sale.

Carol Hess-Nickels, director of business notebook marketing at HP, emphasized the Slate’s business utility. She expects retail, healthcare and insurance companies, among others, to build custom applications that take advantage of the device’s portability.

“It’s really like a full-function PC, it runs Windows, it will run your office applications, it just so happens to be in a slate form factor,” Hess-Nickels said.

On its website, HP calls the tablet ‘the ideal PC for professionals who don’t usually work at a traditional desk, yet need to stay productive in a secure, familiar Windows environment.’

It’s $799 price tag makes it more expensive than the Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad, which starts at $499 and runs up to $699 for a 64-GB model. A 3G iPad starts at US$629.

It's US$799 price tag makes it more expensive than the Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad, which starts at $499 and runs up to US$699 for a 64-GB model. A 3G iPad starts at US$629.

Verizon Wireless plans to sell Samsung’s 7-inch tablet for US$600. Dell’s 5-inch Streak is priced at $550 but can be had for US$300 if bought with a data plan through AT&T.

Shipments are expected to start taking place by mid-November. HP is also expected to make similar devices that run WebOS, an operating system made by Palm Inc., which HP acquired for $1.2 billion this year.

HP, the world’s largest PC maker, plans to release a tablet next year that may look much different from the Slate.  The tablet market is expected to surge next year to more than 50 million units, research group Gartner has said.

Many device makers, such as Samsung and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., have recently announced tablets to rival Apple’s wildly popular device.

However, the iPad is expected to continue to be the dominant product in this market. Apple has sold more than 7 million iPads since the device launched in April.

What do you think about HP’s decision to make the Slate a Windows 7-based tablet, aimed at business customers? Is the price right, and is there a place on the market for such a device? Please, share your opinions in the comments below. [via Wall Street Journal and Mashable]

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