If you don't want to give in to the Apple force field and pick up an iPad, there are a number of Windows-based offerings coming to market soon. One of the most talked about ones is the HP Slate. Until today we didn't know much about the Slate's specs and didn't even know a price, other than HP's statement that
"chip and screen advancements have given us the ability to create a product that can hit a size, weight, battery life and price point that will make this product a mainstream offering."
Well, now we have some information to go on thanks to a post on clipset.net. According to the site, the HP Slate will run an Intel Atom processor and will sell for approximately US$542.
While $542 might seem affordable, Sal Cangeloso from Geek.com goes on to say that
"US tech companies often price devices at the same dollar amount as the Euro price, which would put the Slate at a more reasonable (and iPad undercutting) $400."
I did pre-order my iPad but have to say that there's still a piece of me that hopes Microsoft and HP can pull off the tablet concept. Granted, Microsoft has offered a Tablet PC for a long time now, but the Slate is a category that's trying to redefine the space yet again.
If you take a look at the video below you'll see that the HP Slate runs Flash, which is something that the iPad will definitely not have day one. This could be a huge deciding factor for many consumers and corporations, since even though Apple contends that we don't need Flash, the majority of the web still uses it daily.
Unfortunately, it looks like the HP Slate may suffer from some hold-overs from the Tablet PC days, as Adrian pointed out earlier in his blog post. Adrian took the time to dissect the videos of the HP Slate in action and pointed out that the Windows 7 taskbar looked crowded, and thanks to the Windows desktop paradigm still carrying over, there are tiny controls, scrollbars, and other elements that are far from finger friendly.
Will the above be an issue for the HP Slate when it finally comes to market? My guess is that it will based on my previous experience with devices where Microsoft tried to make Windows Mobile finger-friendly. For the most part it's pretty difficult to make an OS that was designed for a pen, mouse or keyboard to suddenly work with a finger. Hopefully HP is building in a bunch of its own special sauce in the UI and is doing its best to cover up the Windows 7 navigation elements.
With some word finally leaking out about the HP Slate I'm hoping that HP will now come clean and release all information, including pricing and shipping date. It's definitely possible that the company is ready to announce and ship in time to compete with the iPad so we could receive official news any day now.