News Analysis: HP rolls out its Slate 500 at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, while RIM shows off PlayBook. Both companies say their tablets are aimed at the enterprise market.
Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion demonstrated at
the Gartner Symposium/IT xpo 2010 in Orlando, Fla.,
that there is more than one way to slice the tablet market.
Both companies highlighted their tablets, both aimed at
the enterprise market, and both tablets are as different from the Apple iPad as
they are from each other. Could this mean a fragmentation of the tablet market
or, rather, is it simply a market that is too broad for one device to
HP is the first out of the gate with an enterprise tablet.
The Slate 500 went on sale just after midnight
on October 22 on the HP Website. Chris Preimesberger, who examined the device,
describes it as being narrower
and lighter than the iPad. More significantly, the device runs Windows 7
According to HP's press materials, this tablet is
designed as a business machine rather than as a consumer electronics item. This
means that it comes with Microsoft Office 2010, as well as a stylus for
entering handwritten notes and writing e-mails. The Slate 500 includes a
docking station with additional USB ports
and a video port, and it sports two cameras--one facing to the front and one to
the rear for video conferencing and taking photos. The four-finger multi-touch
screen means that you aren't dependant on the stylus to use the Slate.
What's less well-known is that tablet computers aren't new
at HP. I used the first one well over a decade ago. In those days, the device
was more like a laptop with a detachable screen with the keyboard on the bottom.
Enclosed in the screen section were a battery, the hard disk, the WiFi radio,
and a socket for holding the electronic stylus. You needed to use the stylus or
a USB mouse and keyboard to use the
computer. Over the years, HP has updated its line of tablet computers, and the
Slate 500 is a logical evolution of that product line.
RIM's tablet, meanwhile, might be aimed
at the enterprise, but it has little in common with the HP Slate. The RIM device
is designed to be used in conjunction with a BlackBerry smart phone. Like the
HP, the PlayBook has support for WiFi and Bluetooth. Also like the HP, it does
not have a 3G or 4G radio. The PlayBook is made to sync with BlackBerry
devices, and it's designed to tether to them for access to high-speed wireless
RIM claims the PlayBook is also not competing with the
Apple iPad for consumer dollars. While about half of all BlackBerrys are sold
to consumers, it's hard to imagine a large number of consumers wanting their
tablet tethered to their phone.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.