Personal Computers

Wait for Slate, Suggests HP Vid

HP is trying to steal some of the limelight from the iPad.

Less than 48 hours after customers lined up to get their hands on Apple’s newly released tablet computer, HP unveiled a highly produced video of its yet-to-be released Slate tablet.

The YouTube video shows consumers that the HP tablet device will be heavily focused on multimedia including music, video, camera and video chat, observed Alex Spektor, analyst of wireless device strategies at Strategy Analytics.

Vive la Difference

There is no mention of e-book functionality, gaming or Web-browsing capabilities, noted Spektor, although the Firefox icon appears on the video.

There is also no mention of an operating system, although it was previously speculated that the device would be based on Windows 7, giving it a wide range of applications, Spektor told TechNewsWorld.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the Slate in January at CES 2010, claiming that it would be more powerful than a smartphone and almost as powerful as a PC.

“Features such as the camera, USB port, and video dock are all things on the Slate that the iPad does not have,” Spektor said.

The iPad, however, has already captured a lot of consumer attention.

“HP has a strong brand,” said Spektor, “but an upcoming tablet-like device will be compared to Apple’s product and will face an uphill battle.”

Pricing and promotion will be significant factors, Spektor predicted. “Vendors like HP will need to emphasize the features that their products have that the iPads do not, and competitive pricing will help to gain share as the market expands.”

No Release Date

HP did not respond to requests from TechNewsWorld for more details about the Slate, nor has it revealed when it plans to make the tablet PC available.

A midsummer release would allow HP to get attention from the back-to-school crowd, Spektor said. “I would certainly expect the device no later than Christmas season this year.”

Sooner would be a lot better than later, suggested Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“Given the significant differences between iPad and Slate, HP would be well advised to get it out on the market as soon as possible,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“It is best to get it out there and let the market sort things out,” he remarked.

Apple is presenting the iPad as a new computing paradigm and not what people might have conceptualized as a tablet, King said.

In contrast, HP will release what King described as “very much a tablet computer.”

While it will be different than anything HP has offered before, “it is still a computing device,” he said.

Competition Not Yet Under Way

The iPad hit the market over the weekend, selling more than 300,000 units in the U.S. on the first day.

It has been interesting to note that many of the reviews are going over what was well known before it hit the market, King said. In addition to there being no camera or USB, the iPad does not support Adobe Flash.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has gone out of his way to defend the choice not to support the animation software, according to King.

“Apple is insisting that its customers make a break with technology that most people have been using for years,” he added.

There has been speculation that the iPad will dominate the tablet market sector, much as Apple has dominated the MP3 market with its iPod music player. What most people seem to forget, King said, is that when the iPod — and even when the iPhone — hit the store shelves, the market for MP3 players and smartphones was already a mature one.

“I expect as competitors come to market their products are going to be compared to the iPad,” King said. “There is going to be a very big opportunity for vendors to talk about how their products contrast with the iPad, and how that is a good thing.”

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