Hewlett-Packard's Slate 500, its enterprise-centric, Windows 7-based tablet PC, is supposedly sold out. But online reports question the number of Slate 500 units actually produced.
Hewlett-Packard claims its HP Slate 500 tablet PC, equipped
with Microsoft's Windows 7, is on backorder
due to "extraordinary demand." But questions remain about how many tablets HP
meant to produce.
A note on HP's Website indicates that the HP Slate 500, which
is targeted at enterprise users, will ship to customers in six weeks. HP is also reportedly planning tablets
loaded with Palm webOS, the spoils of the company's Palm acquisition earlier
this year, but no definitive release dates have been announced for that more
consumer-centric device line.
Even as HP claimed a hearty sell-through for the Slate 500,
at least one online source questioned how many units the company had decided to
Citing a "trusted tipster with a contact inside HP," tech
blog Engadget suggested
Nov. 13 that HP had planned only a limited production run of 5,000 HP Slate 500
. When 9,000 customers ordered the tablets, HP "apparently had to
re-hire production workers just to get the presses printing out tablets again."
Miffed customers are apparently being offered "over $100 off their $800
purchase as apology."
Neither HP nor Microsoft had responded to eWEEK's request
The HP Slate 500 features an 8.9-inch touch-screen, inward-
and outward-facing cameras for video conferencing, a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540
processor, 64GB of NAND flash storage, and a Webcam port. Pricing starts at
$799, and HP offers the device only through its Website.
"Operationally, the Slate 500 has a lot of things going for
it," wrote eWEEK's Chris Preimesberger in
an Oct. 22 review of the device.
"It runs Windows just like a PC, and you
can use any browser you like."
However, he also found the Slate "irritating" in some
respects. "If all Slates are as slow-moving as the one we tested, HP is going
to have to answer to a lot of frustrated users." The touch screen lacked the
responsiveness of Apple's iPad. "But with all those important business
features, the cameras, the Webcam port and everything else, there will surely
be a substantial number of buyers waiting in virtual lines to buy it."
Whether HP plans to make a substantial play for the
enterprise tablet market, it faces growing competition in that area from a
number of competitors. Research In Motion plans on marketing its 7-inch
PlayBook tablet PC for less than $500 in North America, according to reports.
"The product will be competitively priced," RIM co-CEO Jim
told Bloomberg Nov. 10
, and sold through carriers in addition to stores
such as Best Buy and Target. The PlayBook features a tablet-specific operating
system built on QNX Technology, and will support Adobe Flash, HTML5,
multitasking, and high-definition video.
In addition, Apple plans on boosting the enterprise
capabilities of the iPad. The company's iOS 4.2 update for the tablet will
offer stronger security and device-management capabilities, in addition to
AirPrint wireless printing.
Apple currently dominates more than 95 percent of the tablet
market, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, although the majority of
its competitors have yet to make an appearance on store shelves. "The tablet
wars are up and running," Neil Mawston, a Strategy Analytics director, wrote
in a Nov. 2 report
. "Apple has quickly leveraged its famous brand, an
extensive retail presence and user-friendly design to develop the tablet market
into a multi-billion-dollar business. Android, Microsoft, MeeGo, WebOS,
BlackBerry and other platforms are trailing in Apple's wake, and they already
have much ground to make up."
Microsoft executives have previously announced the company's
intentions to leave a big footprint on the tablet market. Nonetheless, CEO
Steve Ballmer appeared somewhat reluctant to share strategy details during
an Oct. 21 keynote talk at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010
. "Devices ship
all the time," he told a pair of analysts. "You will continue to see an
evolution of devices. That's what you'll continue to see ... there's a next
generation of things that will come with the Intel processors."
That seemed a departure from earlier in the month, when
Ballmer reportedly told an audience at the London School of Economics: "You'll
see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas." He added:
"Certainly we have done work around the tablet as both a productivity device
and a consumption device."
However, some of Microsoft's largest manufacturing
partners-including Samsung and Dell-have begun creating tablets that run
Android, making it unclear where Windows tablets would fit within their