News Analysis: Hewlett-Packard has confirmed it will finally disclose the design details about its long-anticipated WebOS tablets at a Feb. 9 media briefing. To succeed, the devices will need all of HP's long experience with tablet design.
If all of the usual sources are right, which sometimes happen,
Hewlett-Packard will finally announce its long-awaited iPad competitor on Feb.
9. The new WebOS-based device would be about the same size as Apple's iPad, but
it would run on an updated version of Palm's highly regarded WebOS.
The new tablet would actually ship to customers
. According to a story in Engadget, the new device will offer
features that Apple does not, including cloud-based storage, true support for
Adobe Flash and true multitasking.
Right now the new tablet is known only by a code name,
reportedly Topaz. Another smaller tablet, said to be named Opal, may arrive in
late summer. HP has already confirmed that there will be a tablet announcement
at the February meeting, but has so far not provided any details. HP acquired
Palm, and with it WebOS, during the summer of 2010, and to date has not made
any significant announcements regarding devices using the OS.
However, HP has confirmed that it will be announcing a
line of WebOS devices including the tablet. Most observers say HP is overdue
for a new line of Palm smartphones in light of the steady stream of
announcements from carriers regarding Android and Microsoft Windows Phone 7
devices. The current WebOS devices are essentially the same as what Palm was
selling before HP acquired the company.
So what should you expect from
HP's new tablet
? While we probably won't find out too many details before
the February announcement, some information can be gleaned from existing WebOS
devices. In addition, HP has a much longer history of building tablets than
other companies, including Apple. The difference is that HP's tablets were
Windows devices aimed at specific verticals rather than consumer devices aimed
at things like e-readers and music.
But HP's experience with tablets over the years is sure
to influence the design of the device, as is the experience Palm gained from
selling WebOS into the enterprise. While Apple does sell the iPad as an
enterprise device and includes a number of enterprise features, HP has vast
experience in this arena. You can expect that enterprise-critical features such
as support for corporate networks and e-mail systems will be in this device
from day one.
Likewise, you can expect that HP's new tablets will have
a well-designed touch screen because of HP's own experience in the area, but
also because of Palm's long history with touch-screen technology. Remember that
hand-held touch-screen devices all trace their heritage back to the original
Palm Pilot that existed nearly a decade before iPhones, Android devices or even
WebOS. Unfortunately, there's no indication whether Palm or HP plans to bring
back Graffiti handwriting recognition, which would seem to be a natural for a
device such as a tablet with a touch screen.