Hewlett-Packard may have abandoned its webOS-powered TouchPad, but it remains committed to Windows tablets. The HP Slate 2 Tablet PC, a 1.5-pound touch-screen device running Windows 7, will make its debut later in November for a starting price of $699.
The HP Slate 2 Tablet PC uses a 1.5GHz Intel Atom Z670 processor to power applications on its 8.9-inch screen. HP is playing up the device’s security features (including a TPM Embedded Security Chip) and an HP Slate Digital Pen that expands its input options beyond fingers. It is aimed at more of a business audience than the rest of the tablet market, which is overwhelmingly geared toward everyday consumers (with the expectation that those consumers will bring their devices into the enterprise, per the current trend).
The tablet is the successor to HP’s Slate 500, which released in late 2010 for $799. That 8.9-inch device came loaded with Windows 7 Professional, a single USB port, an SD card slot, front- and rear-facing cameras for video conferencing, 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of flash storage. It also came with Office 2010 and Evernote organizational software.
Despite killing the TouchPad earlier this year, HP is intent on remaining in the tablet market. “I think we need to be in the tablet business,” HP CEO Meg Whitman told analysts and reporters during an Oct. 27 conference call. “We’re certainly going to be there with Windows 8, and we’re going to make a long-term decision about webOS.”
Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP’s Personal Systems Group (PSG), also said during the call: “We’re continuing to focus on a Microsoft tablet that we have and focus on Windows 8,” referring in the former case to a Windows 7 device targeted at the business community.
Due sometime in 2012, Windows 8 will pair the “traditional” Windows desktop with another user interface based on a colorful set of tiles, with easy switching between the two. The tile-centric interface is meant to operate on tablets, which in turn will allow Microsoft to finally compete against Apple’s iPad in that segment.
HP has made no indication over the past few days that it will revive the TouchPad, which met with some critical praise but anemic sales following its July release in the United States. Six weeks after that debut, then-CEO Leo Apotheker announced HP was killing off the 9.7-inch tablet, as part of a major strategic realignment that also included the partial or full spin-off of PSG, the division responsible for manufacturing PCs. Whitman decided to keep PSG as a part of HP.
In the meantime, the HP Slate seems a preamble to the company’s real tablet push: Windows 8.