HP‘s Slate was one of the early stars of The Year of the Tablet. Before anyone knew what the iPad would be, HP and Microsoft introduced the Slate at January’s Consumer Electronics Show. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer even did the actual introduction, so the Slate was guaranteed a ton of buzz.
But the Slate was actually a pretty traditional tablet–according to a leaked spec list, it ran the full desktop version of Windows 7 (possibly with a touch-oriented skin), and packed netbook internals, including an Intel Atom processor. In the wake of the iPad, the most successful tablet, well, ever, the public started to rethink the idea that tablets would be shrunken, keyboard-less PCs. The iPad was an overgrown smartphone, rather than a shrunken PC, and its success indicated to both the industry and the public that perhaps mobile OSes and mobile hardware would make for a better product.
Back in April, shortly after the introduction of the iPad, HP was reported to have axed the Slate. Then, after HP acquired Palm, the tech press started to wonder: Could Palm’s WebOS be the one operating system that could compete with Apple‘s iOS in a tablet form factor? An HP Taiwan executive confirmed that HP would be bringing such a device to market. And then just this week, HP filed for a trademark on the term “PalmPad.” What else could that be but a Palm WebOS-fueled tablet?
But, oddly enough, this week also brought the discovery of a Lazarus taxon on HP’s website. Like the coelacanth, the HP Slate was thought to be extinct, but discovered living, alive and well, as the “HP Slate 500.” The specs match what we knew before–1.6GHz Atom processor, 8.9-inch screen, dual webcams, five-hour battery–and yes, it does indeed run Windows 7. HP’s response, that the company is “in customer evaluations now and will make a determination soon on the
next steps,” indicates that the Windows Slate isn’t a lock to come to market–but it’s certainly possible.