As promised in January, Hewlett-Packard has released its Windows 7 Slate computer before the end of the year.
The Slate 500 is the highly anticipated slatelike computer that Steve Ballmer presented during the opening keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show just before Apple launched the iPad.
HP kept the buzz going for a while last spring with teaser videos poking fun at the iPad’s inability to do things like run Adobe Flash, but then it suddenly went quiet about the Slate, around the time it bought Palm and said it would use Palm’s operating system in consumer devices.
HP today began taking orders for the $799 Win7 device, which it’s aiming at business users.
HP now seems to be trying really hard to downplay its potential as a consumer device for browsing media like the iPad. It’s no longer teasing the iPad about Flash or talking up the full computing capabilities of the Slate 500.
The Slate 500 is listed among business computers at HP’s website, and the description makes it sound relatively dull. It’s being pitched not as an exciting alternative to the iPad, but as a productivity device capable of running enterprise applications.
Does HP think the biggest competition is really the business tablets from RIM and Cisco, or is it keeping things low-key until it releases consumer tablets based on the operating system it acquired with Palm?
Here’s how it’s describing the long-awaited Windows 7 tablet:
“The HP Slate 500 is the ideal PC for professionals who don’t usually work at a traditional desk, yet need to stay productive in a secure, familiar Windows environment. The HP Slate 500 is also intended for those who use custom applications built for Windows.”
What happened to the “perfect storm of innovation” stuff HP was talking about in January?
More interesting are the specs HP provided.
The Slate 500 is based on Intel’s Z540 Atom processor, which runs at 1.86 gigahertz, and has up to 2 gigabytes of DDR2 RAM. For storage it uses flash memory units with up to 64 gigabytes of storage.
It’s built around an 8.9-inch diagonal multitouch screen and has 802.11 b, g and n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0. The device weighs 1.5 pounds and is 0.58 inches thick. It’s overall case is 9.2 by 5.9 inches.
Unlike the iPad, the Slate 500 has a USB 2.0 port and an SD memory card slot for directly loading and transferring files. It also has a built-in 3 megapixel camera, a front-facing VGA webcam and built-in microphone and speakers.
HP says the device’s battery lists “up to 5+ hours.” Applications preloaded on the device include Adobe Reader and a “Slate Camera” application from HP.
The device comes with a stylus and a dock, but not much of a drumroll.