HP Windows 7 Tablet May Not Be Dead After All

Dennis Faas's picture

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has refused to confirm reports that it has cancelled work on a Windows-based tablet computer. In addition, its website still includes promotional material for the device, known as the Slate.

Rumors suggested the firm encountered several problems with the device: Windows 7 apparently ran slowly and didn't convert well to a touch screen interface, while the Slate's Intel processor soaked up too much power, which could have made a practical battery life difficult to achieve.

However, several analysts have noted that posts on an HP blog which deal with the device are still active. They include one from early March which included the first official video of the Slate in action, and another from mid-April which discusses how print tech magazine Wired might be redesigned to appear on devices such as the Slate. (Source: hp.com)

HP Slate May Offer Family of Devices

Of course, things can and do change in the tech world. But given that HP is a publicly traded company, it would be expected to update the site if it had formally abandoned the device. Not doing so could be considered behavior which might mislead investors.

That leaves the more likely possibility that HP has decided to postpone the Slate. It's also very possible that "Slate" will become a family of devices rather than a single machine. (Source: liliputing.com)

The main thing pointing to that theory is that HP recently spent $1.2 billion buying ailing cellphone manufacturer Palm, whose handsets include the Pre and the Pixi. That deal raised some eyebrows, as there's little reason to believe HP wants to get into the cellphone business itself, or that it would have anything to offer Palm to allow it to become a stronger player in the market. There have been reports of hundreds of thousands of unsold Pre and Pixi handsets left in warehouses.

WebOS Could Be The Key

What might be more of interest to HP is WebOS, Palm's own operating system. While Palm handsets haven't gained a foothold in the market, WebOS has generally been praised as smooth and easy to use: and of course, it's designed for touch screen input. While it might need some tweaking for a larger-sized screen, it could be a or more effective solution than trying to "shrink down" Windows 7.

So does this mean that WebOS will supplant Windows on the Slate? Not necessarily. One option would be for HP to launch multiple versions of the Slate, giving users the choice of buying a more expensive Windows edition or a cheaper WebOS edition. That's certainly a strategy many netbook operators have pursued, with the same model running either XP or a Linux system.

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