As noted by a number of online sources, a cached page on Hewlett-Packard's Web site shows off a tablet PC listed as the HP Slate 500. The description accompanying the image suggests the device will have an 8.9-inch screen, two cameras for still images and Web conferencing, Windows 7 Premium, and a pen for writing or drawing. It also comes with headphones.
The device pictured at the top of the Web page, while small, bears marked similarities to the tablet shown off by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Whether or not the HP Slate 500 sees the light of day, the description suggests that HP is envisioning it as a media-consumption device: "No matter where you are or what kind of fun you're in the mood for, the HP Slate 500 is all you need. Exclusive HP software gives you access to photos, videos and everything on the Internet with just a touch."
Another page on HP's Website lists eight different HP Slate models, all of which link to the same Windows 7-centric description. A separate PDF lists an "HP Slate 500" as Energy Star compliant, but makes no mention of the operating system.
HP is also reportedly seeking to trademark the name PalmPad, possibly for a tablet PC running its newly acquired PalmWebOS. Even following HP's $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm, however, rumors continue to circulate that the manufacturer is considering tablet PCs running Windows 7 and possibly Google Android-although a July 15 report by All Things D, quoting unnamed sources "in position to know," suggested the Android effort was on hold.
The idea of Windows 7 running on an HP tablet seemed a likelier proposition-an HP vice president even reportedly confirmed plans to do so-though concrete information on the state of that project's state has been scarce.
An HP spokesperson declined to confirm reports about the PalmPad trademark: "At this time, we're not sharing information on future products, operating systems or road maps beyond what we've already released. We'll be providing more info on this at a later time."
Before the Palm acquisition, HP's plans for a Windows 7-powered tablet seemed practically set in stone. In an April 5 posting on HP's Voodoo Blog, Phil McKinney, vice president and CTO for the company's Personal Systems Group, touted a Slate that he said would provide "the ideal mobile experience." In addition to Windows 7, that version of the device included Web conferencing, thanks to a pair of integrated cameras, and slots for SD cards and USB devices.
Before that, Steve Ballmer offered a first glimpse of the HP Slate during his keynote presentation at CES, where he suggested its capabilities would include e-reading, Web surfing, and playing movies and other multimedia.
But then HP acquired Palm, and those Windows plans much less solid. If the HP Slate 500 pages actually show a device at some stage in the production pipeline, though, then the situation could change yet again.