New details have emerged about the tablet plans of Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and Research In Motion, if a price sheet, said to be a leaked road map from a big-box retailer, is correct.
Pre Central posted the road map March 14, and it shows the 10-inch Motorola Xoom going on sale March 17 for $649, followed by the 7-inch RIM BlackBerry PlayBook March 27, for $499, $599 and $699, based on configurations.
Farther down the line, however, it appears that HP's 9.7-inch TouchPad, which company officials have so far only said will launch "this summer," is slated for a June arrival, at $499 and $599, for a 16GB WiFi version and a 32GB version, respectively.
Additionally, it seems HP is also working on a 7-inch model-said to be code-named "Opal," according to Pre Central-that's slated for a September release.
Those details match up with those that a source fed to Engadget in January, reporting that HP was working on two tablets, a larger device code-named "Topaz" and a smaller one called Opal, which would ship three months later than its larger mate. The source also shared that the tablets would likely offer induction-based charging, similar to the Palm Pre's Touchstone charger, and a feature called Tap-to-Share, which lets users share a link, a document or a song between devices by tapping them together. A "huge amount" of cloud storage was also expected to be offered.
"The ultimate goal, we're told," Engadget wrote at the time, "is to 'make the laptop the new desktop' and for consumers to leave them sitting at home while they take tablets on the go."
The road map, which makes starkly clear just how crowded the tablet market has become, shows 7-inch tablets running Android 2.2 (or "Froyo") arriving at the end of March from Dell, for $449, and Samsung, for $499. Following these is a 7-inch Acer-the first 7-inch tablet with Android 2.3, or "Gingerbread," says the road map-for $399, and, come June, four 10-inch tablets running Android 3.0, known as "Honeycomb," from HTC, Dell, Acer and Toshiba. Pricing for the HTC is said to be as yet unannounced, but the Dell, Acer and Toshiba models are $499, $449 and $499, respectively.
Add in the 10-inch HP, that's a total of five 10-inch tablets arriving in June alone, which should have manufacturers scrambling to differentiate themselves. And that is of course what HP hopes to do with its webOS-the mobile operating system it acquired last year during its $1.2 billion purchase of Palm.
"Today, we're embarking on a new era of webOS with the goal of linking a wide family of HP products through the best mobile experience available," Jon Rubinstein, former CEO of Palm and now the senior vice president and general manager of HP's Palm Global Business Unit, said in a Feb. 9 statement, introducing the TouchPad. "The flexibility of the webOS platform makes it ideal for creating a range of innovative devices that work together to keep you better connected to your world."
At the Palo Alto, Calif., event introducing the TouchPad, HP also showed off two new smartphones, the HP Pre 3 and the Veer. The Pre 3, which Rubinstein called HP's "premier phone," will also launch "this summer," while the smaller Veer is expected to arrive in the early spring.