HP Delivers Long-Awaited Enterprise Tablet

HP has delivered the latest entry into a fast-expanding tablet market, unveiling this week the Slate 500, a Windows 7-powered mobile device geared expressly for business users.

The long-awaited device, HP's first tablet computer, is available for purchase immediately through the company's website and its distribution partners, retailing for $799. On Friday morning HP's website listed a ship date of Nov. 12.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer first showed off a prototype of an HP tablet powered by the software giant's forthcoming Windows 7 OS back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but that consumer-oriented device morphed in the time since into a business-oriented model.

HP is still planning to bring a consumer-friendly tablet to market next year, a device that would run on the webOS operating system that the company acquired in the $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm.

But the enterprise is the order of the day, and HP is billing the new Windows-powered tablet as an easy add-on to exiting corporate IT environments.

For specs, the Slate 500 is powered by a 1.86 GHz Intel Atom Z540 processor, and boasts 2GB of RAM.

With its 8.9-inch screen, the device is a bit smaller than Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad, the market leader in the tablet category that measures 9.7 inches.

Screen size has emerged as a flash point in the nascent tablet category, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs leveling criticism at smaller devices, particularly the seven-inch form factor, a not so subtle dig at Cisco's business-oriented Cius and BlackBerry's forthcoming PlayBook of that size. (RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie promptly registered his annoyance with Jobs' comments.)

Apple's iPad, while broadly seen as a consumer-driven product, has been making inroads into the enterprise, evidenced most recently by AT&T's announcement that it would market and sell the device directly to corporate customers.

The HP Slate 500's two cameras include an outward-facing 3 megapixel camera, and a VGA Webcam on the front of the device designed for applications such as video conferencing.

HP offers a charging dock that includes two USB ports for peripherals, in addition to the one port built into the device.

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Microsoft, Windows 7, tablet PC, tablet, HP