New HP WebOS Tablet Rumors Emerge: Report

Rumors about HP's planned WebOS-running tablets continue to emerge. Fox has reported that HP is having trouble selecting a name, and that Sprint may be a partner.

Hewlett-Packard appears to have a blabber mouth in its ranks that Fox News is happily exploiting. According to the news site, HP reportedly held an emergency company meeting to remind employees that sharing details about its top-secret tablet projects - said to be known internally as "Topaz" and "Opal" - is grounds for termination.

With the HP leak as-yet unsealed, however, Fox reports that it has learned several new details about the tablets that HP is expected to introduce at the Feb. 9 WebOS event that members of media have been invited to. What no one knows yet, says Fox, is what the devices will eventually be called.

"PalmPad" was reportedly a front-runner, though Fox reports that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected this in October, along with the two-word "Palm Pad." However, wrote Fox's Clayton Morris, "I'm also hearing that proprietary cases have been seen with the palmPad name on them, which suggests HP is confident they'll get the name pushed through."

Other names being considered, wrote Morris, "include TouchSlate, TouchCanvas and DuoPad - although my sources tell me that the DuoPad is a separate product at HP currently under development."

DuoPad may instead be the name of the WebOS-running netbook that HP reportedly has in the works, and according to a Jan. 17 report from Ars Technica will be part of a network of various form factors that will all seamless communicate with each other over the Internet. This idea has been furthered by HP Executive Vice President Todd Bradley, who during a Jan. 7 interview on CNBC said that HP is thinking about how WebOS will enable "everything from smartphones to tablets to PCs to potentially other large-screen devices."

According to the Fox report, the HP tablets will have hundreds of gigabytes of cloud storage for media, data backups and applications, as well as unlimited cloud storage for music - suggesting that HP is at work on a music store.

Morris added that the 7-inch version of the PalmPad prototype, the Opal, was, according to a source, spotted on Sprint's EVDO network, and that the a planned HP "EduPad" for students at select partner universities has been canceled, and that they'll instead receive the 9-inch 4G/WiFi-running tablet currently referred to as the Topaz.

According to a Jan. 19 report from Engadget, the Topaz will measure 241 by 190 by 13mm, compared to the Opal's 180 by 144 by 13mm.

Other details Fox has gleaned from its source include that the tablets now feature smaller batteries that enable them to keep their weight under 1.5 pounds - like the iPad and Motorola Xoom - but that result in a reduced battery life from 12 to 14 hours to now 8. Also, previously included rear cameras appear to have been removed from the final versions, leaving just a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front for video chatting.

Also, built-in induction-based Touchstone charging is likely - there'll be no removable back panel, like the on the Palm Pre - as has already been rumored, though Morris adds that instead of the charging point being on the back, it may be on the bottom or side edges. "This way," he writes, "you can have the pad stand up for viewing and exhibition mode while charging."

Other tidbits: the Angry Birds app has been spotted on the tablets, there are expected to be 6,000 apps ready at the WebOS tablets' launch, and HP has a major product-placement campaign underway.

"Expect the pads to show up on TV shows in March," wrote Morris. "The marketing team is working with studios to include them in shows like -Law and Order' and -CSI.'"