A day after Hewlett-Packard posted a video highlighting its upcoming tablet PC's video conferencing abilities and other functions, a purported internal document details the device's supposed specs. With Apple's iPad proving a hit with consumers following its April 3 release, the pressure on other manufacturers is high to introduce a product that can be a competitor in the burgeoning tablet market.
On April 5, Engadget posted an image of what it claimed was an internal HP presentation comparing the specs of the company's upcoming tablet PC to the iPad. According to that document, the 8.9-inch capacitive multitouch "HP Slate" will retail for between $549 and $599, and include an inward-facing VGA Webcam and an outward-facing 3-megapixel camera, as well as a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor. It will run Windows 7 Home Premium, paired to a proprietary HP touch-optimized user interface, and feature either 32GB or 64GB of upgradable flash storage. HP claims that the tablet will offer more than 5 hours of battery life.
HP is apparently betting that certain key features of its offering, such as the camera modules and its ability to run Adobe Flash, will offer it a proverbial leg up on the iPad, which does not include cameras or Flash support. However, as noted by HP's presentation, the iPad has advantages in battery life, higher screen resolution, larger screen and a lower price for its 16GB WiFi-only model. The iPad does not support Flash, which is used to power rich content on many popular Websites, supposedly because Apple CEO Steve Jobs believes the platform is "buggy."
In an April 5 posting on HP's Voodoo Blog, Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer for the company's Personal Systems Group, touted the Slate's features as essential for what he termed "the ideal mobile experience."
"Think about the last time you chatted with friends over Skype on your notebook," McKinney wrote. "Or uploaded a picture from your mobile phone to Facebook or Flickr. How about the last time you viewed images or video from an SD card or a USB device. We know that you expect to be able to capture and share digital content on your mobile devices."
In a 30-second video accompanying the blog post, a pair of hands takes an image, inserts a 16GB memory card into a side slot, and uses the camera modules to activate video conferencing.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered a first glimpse of the HP slate during a keynote presentation at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with Ballmer suggesting that the tablet's capabilities would include e-reading, Web surfing, and playing movies and other multimedia. Other manufacturers, including Fusion Garage and Fujitsu, also have tablets in development, but they all face a substantial competitor in Apple, which announced it sold 300,000 iPads in the United States by midnight on April 3. Some 1 million iPad apps and 250,000 ebooks were also downloaded by that date, suggesting that ultimate advantage in the tablet battle may rest equally on software and media offerings in addition to hardware specs.
In an April 5 research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster suggested that, based on his survey of 448 iPad buyers soon after the device's release, some 74 percent of iPad purchasers intended to use the device for surfing the Web, while another 38 percent planned to use it to read ebooks; another 34 percent said "Email," 26 percent said "Watching Video," 18 percent said "Playing Games and Apps," and 8 percent said "Listening to Music." Presumably, a tablet from HP or other manufacturers would see similar numbers with regard to intended use.
The 16GB version of the iPad costs $499 with WiFi, and $629 with WiFi and 3G. The 32GB version costs $599 with WiFi, and $729 with WiFi and 3G. The 64GB version costs $699 with WiFi, and $829 with WiFi and 3G. In his research note, Munster estimated that Apple will sell some 4.3 million iPads in 2010.