Win7 Tablet PC's to Rival iPad, HP Slate Due Soon

Dennis Faas's picture

Apple's new iPad is making plenty of headlines this week. But Microsoft, and the PC sector in general, are quick to highlight the Windows-based tablet computers which will rival the device.

The most conspicuous response to Apple's iPad launch came from Hewlett Packard (HP), which has released a YouTube video showing off its forthcoming HP Slate. That's a tablet computer announced earlier this month running Windows 7 and apparently set-up to handle electronic books bought from Amazon's store.

Though the device is produced by HP, Microsoft is heavily involved in promoting it. Indeed, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer made it a key feature of his address to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), arguably his most important speech of the year.

Windows Tablet: 5 Years In The Making

The video doesn't go into much technical detail about HP's Slate specifications, instead concentrating on its development. HP's technology chief Phil McKinney says it has been in the works for five years and started life as a prototype electronic reading device, but the concept grew, adding multimedia content until it effectively became a full-blown portable computer. (Source:

HP Slate to be Available This Year

McKinney confirmed the Slate will be available this year. He didn't reveal the pricing, noting only that when the project started it would have cost $1,500 but can now be made much more economically.

Rumors point to the Slate costing under $500, compared with the iPad which ranges from $499 to $829, depending on the built-in storage and whether or not a model is set-up to work on 3G networks. (Source:

According to McKinney, part of the reason the Slate is now feasible for production at a more marketable price is the development of Windows 7. That appears to be a reference to the fact that Vista notoriously required a lot of memory to work to full effect, making it particularly sluggish on comparatively low-spec portable devices.

Apple Drawbacks Highlighted

It appears that HP, Microsoft, and other firms on the PC side will stress a couple of advantages of ultra-portable PCs over Apple's iPad device. Firstly, the iPad will only officially run applications distributed through its App Store, a system some object to as needlessly restrictive.

Secondly, the iPad appears to be extremely limited in its ability to multitask. While it does appear that it will be able to play music via iTunes "in the background", as a general rule it will only run one application at once. That means, for example, that it may be impossible to use the device to write an email or blog post while referring to a web page.

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