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HP Slate Less Expensive Than iPad, but With Less Battery Life Too?

Engadget got their hands on what seems to be an internal leak of a guide sheet comparing the HP Slate to Apple's iPad. The specs line up with what we'd all assumed (though in more detail than we had before), but the biggest piece of information is the price. With a base price of $550 for the 32GB version, the Slate would undercut the iPad significantly—except when it comes to battery life.

But these really are two very different products. Though they look quite similar, the iPad is essentially a scaled-up mobile device (the accusations of "just a bigger iPod Touch" aren't entirely inaccurate), while the HP Slate is essentially a scaled-down PC. The specs make that argument for us: The iPad uses a custom Apple A4 processor, a mobile chip fairly similar to the Qualcomm Snapdragon seen in the Google Nexus One, while the HP Slate uses a 1.6GHz Atom, the same chip seen in most modern netbooks.

That processor is a bigger deal than just fodder for component geeks—the Atom is far more powerful than Apple's A4 chip, especially with the "graphics accelerator" (probably a Broadcom Crystal HD chip) added in. It can handle 1080p video (the iPad can only do 720p), multitasking will be no problem, and it'll be able to stream HD video from Netflix, ABC, and, yes, even Hulu, since Flash is supported. It's packing two Webcams, including a front-facing VGA cam for video chat. It's got USB ports and an SD card slot for cameras.

But that all comes at a price: Battery life is about half that of the iPad, at only five hours compared with the iPad's 10 to 12.

The newest, and most important, piece of information here is the price. According to the crib sheet, the Slate will come in 32GB and 64GB capacities, at $550 and $600. Those are far lower than the iPad's price, especially since the Slate comes with a SIM card slot for 3G, if desired. The 3G enabled 32GB iPad costs $730, and the 64GB comes in at a staggering $830, so the Slate might seem a downright bargain.

A video recently shown off by HP makes no excuses: They are directly going after the iPad. The video lingers on all the features the iPad doesn't have—the Webcam, input slots for USB devices and SD cards, Flash support. Even more, it shows a distinctive white Apple USB cord plugging into the Slate—and, now that I think about it, you actually could use a Slate to sync an iPad. The distinction is clear: The Slate is a computer, the iPad is a toy. Whether consumers choose the Slate, however, depends mostly on the software.

There's still no word on software yet, which is far and away the most important piece of the puzzle. If HP releases a pretty, affordable tablet with decent netbook specs, and just slaps a quick-fix version of HP TouchSmart onto Windows 7, it'll be dead in the water. Time has proven again and again that consumers do not want desktop OSes with touch capabilities—they want a new interface designed from the ground up. If HP can deliver, they might be able to snag buyers with promises of native Hulu support, multitasking, and 1080p video. But that's a big if at the moment.

These specs are unconfirmed by HP or, for that matter, Microsoft, who's making the underlying OS of the device. The tech specs are very reasonable, the price lower than expected, but still plausible. We'll keep you updated if HP comments or confirms.

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