HP's PalmPad Tablet Coming to CES: Report

Hewlett-Packard is planning to unveil a tablet running Palm's WebOS operating system at January's Consumer Electronics Show, according to a new report.

Hewlett-Packard plans to unveil a tablet running a new version of Palm's WebOS operating system at January's Consumer Electronics Show, according to a new online report.

Fox News' Clayton Morris is claiming his organization obtained spec sheets for the device from an unnamed trusted source. "HP will introduce three models of the PalmPad at CES, with minor hardware differences distinguishing them," he wrote in a Dec. 21 posting on FoxNews.com. "All three will run a new iteration of the WebOS operating system, version 2.5.1; they're collectively a spin-off of the never-released HP Slate."

The report also states that an unreleased fourth version of the tablet, geared toward education, will apparently not be displayed at CES. The PalmPad will weigh 1.25 pounds; boast a form-factor "slightly thinner than the iPad, with rounded edges closer [in design] to the Amazon Kindle"; and include front- and rear-facing cameras for video conferencing.

HP's current offering in this market is the Slate 500 tablet PC equipped with Windows 7, an enterprise-centric device reportedly issued in a very limited run. However, the company has been forecasting a more consumer-oriented WebOS tablet for early 2011.

Should that release date hold, the PalmPad will face substantial competition from a number of tablets, including Research In Motion's upcoming PlayBook and a growing host of Android-powered devices from Samsung, Motorola and other manufacturers. While the Apple iPad currently holds around 95.5 percent of the tablet market, according to Strategy Analytics, that percentage is expected to drop as more rivals are delivered to stores.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a next-generation iPad sometime in early 2011, possibly in January. On Dec. 10, Reuters posted an article suggesting that front- and rear-facing camera modules would appear in that device, along with a higher resolution screen. If true, that would present a substantial challenge to both an HP offering and the rest of the tablets currently on-or coming to-the market.

HP acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in mid-2010, in the process becoming a new player in the mobility business. In addition to the WebOS operating system, HP inherited the Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones, which had attracted early praise for their designs but failed to attract a long-term audience under Palm's executive management. Following that acquisition, rumors erupted that HP had canceled its Windows tablet in development; later in the year, however, news emerged that HP would pursue its bifurcated strategy of dual tablet lines featuring WebOS and Windows.