Should Apple feel threatened by HP's forthcoming tablet competition? Maybe not, given the internal document that somehow wound up in Engadget's lap. It details the key specs for the Windows 7-running Slate, which is to be priced at a very Apple-like $549 or $599, depending on the flash storage capacity (32GB or 64GB).
It's similar in other respects to the iPad, including a multitouch screen (slightly smaller at 8.9 inches, with a 1,024x600 resolution), built-in Wi-Fi, and a 1.5-pound weight. Of course, it doesn't have a proprietary processor running it; instead, it uses the Intel Atom Z530 CPU familiar from many, many netbooks. One disadvantage seems to be that the Slate will only have about 5 hours of battery life, while Apple claims a battery life of 10 hours for the iPad, which has proven accurate in hands-on testing (if not understating things slightly). It's also a bit surprising that HP didn't take a chance on Nvidia's Ion graphics to boost gaming potential, sticking instead with Intel's UMA graphics.
On the other hand, the Slate will come with Windows 7 Home Premium, so an app store isn't as crucial (though you won't necessarily be able to run some programs with an Atom processor and just 1GB of RAM). It also has a built-in camera and a separate Webcam, SD memory-card slot, and USB 2.0 port, none of which the iPad sports. HP is also supplying a "touch-optimized" UI and support for a stylus, which would presumably be useful for handwritten notes.
No doubt, the Slate's specs will lead to an interesting debate. Is it better to have Windows 7 and a number of the features the iPad lacks, or perhaps a better-performing iPad with longer battery life and developers create apps by the boatload that are optimized for the device? I can't possibly think the ZDNet community has an opinion on this, one way or the other. And they'd never share it in our TalkBack section.