23 Comments

Summary:

One day after the first iPad television commercial, HP outs not one, but two new videos showing off the upcoming HP Slate. The big push here is to tout something Apple’s iPad can’t deal with — Adobe Flash support. Is that a big deal?

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Looking to get your slate fix on but don’t want to watch the first iPad television commercial on Apple’s web site or your DVR? HP is happy to oblige with two new videos showing off the HP Slate that was first introduced by Steve Ballmer at the Consumer Electronics Show. Both vids are worth a look in order to get a feel for the device thickness, ports and such, but they also show the custom user interface on top of Windows 7 — can you say Origami Experience, part III? — as well as some applications.

The first video is more promotional than anything else, but for me it does raises the following question: Will the device be this peppy in terms of performance? My concern is that it won’t, but that’s purely speculative on my part. Well, maybe not “purely” speculative — I’m basing the thought on several years of UMPC ownership as well as on the performance of today’s netbooks.

Why compare the HP Slate to a netbook of today? While there’s no official announcement on what’s powering the HP Slate, we know several things that tell us what’s likely powering it. Given that the device runs on Microsoft Windows 7, I’d guess that like new netbooks, it runs on an Intel N400-series Atom CPU with integrated Intel graphics in addition to a hardware accelerator solution — that last bit is mentioned in the second vid, as pointed out by Engadget. Could HP surprise me and use a different x86 processor? Sure it could — at the cost of battery life — something I don’t think will happen.

The second video focuses on a key differentiator to Apple’s iPad — the ability to run Adobe Flash. I’m still wondering if Microsoft is skating to the puck while Apple skates to where the puck will be on this one. I believe that Flash and HTML5 can easily co-exist in the world, but Flash won’t control nearly as much of the video and gaming web that it does today. And Flash isn’t the only big function difference here — Apple’s iPad won’t natively handle inking and handwriting recognition, although some third-party apps can help out that deficiency.

I’m excited by the HP Slate simply because it appears to be the closest product yet to the exciting and original Project Origami vision from 2006. Once the device hits the market later this year, there’s bound to be plenty of buyers who need that full desktop computer compatibility with a mobile device. I’m just not sure that I’m one of them, given my reliance upon the cloud for nearly all of my work activities — a full desktop operating system on my mobile device adds overhead that I don’t think I need for a device in this class. I’ll have to ponder that a little bit more though. Thoughts?

Image courtesy of HP

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Handwriting Recognition: A Killer App for the iPad?

  1. I’d say the HP slate is ready to MURDER the iPad. Flash + hardware video acceleration will give abilities and performance comparable to a top-end netbook.

    My concern though is battery life. A netbook can go 8-10 hours now thanks to Pinetrail. Will the slate’s form-factor allow for the same, or will we be searching for an outlet after an evening of surfing and movies?

    As for going with Windows 7, I’ll just finish with 2 words – no compromises.

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  2. The only thing I’d be worried about is the Atom’s deserved reputation for a poor video experience. If that’s fixed in this upcoming slate (or any other), then, yes, I’d rather run Win7 than iPhone OS or Android on a slate any day. If the performance issue AND battery life issue on a Win7 slate are both taken care of, you have MANY more options with such a slate than you ever would with a limited phone OS. If the interface kills you, get an overlay. But it’s always better to have the option of more powerful, capable computing then it is to say, “I wish I could XYZ right now.”

    Having said that, the flash video on the device looked surprisingly smooth on the second video above. It wasn’t full screen, of course, but even so, smoother than I’ve seen with other Atom powered devices. Maybe it’s new hardware, or maybe it’s Adobe’s new Flash optimized for the Atom. Not sure on that one.

    At any rate, I will not buy an iPad nor a Notion Ink Adam or any of the new slates as soon as they come out. I don’t think anyone really should. If it’s a device we don’t “need”, then we can certainly wait around until the end of the year so we can at least choose the best after seeing all options. Unless, of course, you plan on buying all the options ;)

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  3. I agree with comments below that the combination of standard Win7+x86+GPU will easily beat iPad in terms of features & functionality.

    Here is one more potential use model for these Tablet/Slates as ThinClient PC in a business environment, where HP Slate would easily win over iPad – http://navanee.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/ipad-as-a-thin-client-pc-for-personal-or-corporate-use-via-vnc-or-citrix-gotomypc/

    Apple is primarily focusing on the Amazon Kindle eReader which it will easily beat. But even here, HP Slate with a simple eReader application should be able to beat iPad.

    HP Slate >> Apple iPad >> Amazon Kindle

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    1. The Kindle does not belong in the same tier as the Slate and the iPad. The Kindle is a single-tasking device whose sole purpose is an e-reader. There’s no point in comparing it to the Slate or iPad. They’re different devices for different purposes.

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  4. Jeff Jackson Monday, March 8, 2010

    Without an active stylus, it’s just as useless as an iPad.

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  5. Looks pretty sweet to me, although somewhat concerned about the weight.

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  6. I’m pretty sure after getting a hold of an iPad, any x86 based slate will feel heavy. Even with a 3 cell battery.. and then battery life will be a concern.

    I imagine all these FarmVille fans will want to have a nice couch device to harvest their crops, but after using the HP TM2 in slate mode, flash games are annoying without a hovering mouse pointer.

    For those who don’t care about flash games, it should be ok.

    I’m still saying it’ll be UMPC’s all over again. Complaints of slow speed, weight, battery life, and lack of keyboard will come up again. Sure it’ll do everything your netbook can do, but there’s always a trade-off.

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    1. The UMPC never got a fair trial because it was never marketed well. Also XP is not 7 and multitouch was never present on the XP UMPC’s.
      Even if it has the same problems as the UMPC, This has legs as long there is buzz around the product and good marketing to back it.

      Lack of keyboard will be fixed in two ways. 1) I am sure they will create an accessory 2) There will be netbook like form factors which rotate – hiding the keyboard converting it into a slate. There were some demos in CES.

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      1. The thing about these slates, it had almost no marketing behind it from Microsoft. It was created on its own because of the iPad rumors. Windows 7 just isn’t built for touch-only. Also, a lot of these slates have a capacitive screen so inking is limited unless you get a special pen or a meat stick.
        It all comes back to convertible tablets for running a full OS. Hopefully one day, there will be a light and thin netvertible with a wacom digitizer.
        Or even a 7-10″ slate with a wacom with good battery life. The dream UMPC.

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  7. Sorry but that thing didn’t look near as snappy as the iPad. Did you notice the long delays to launch stuff. And did you notice it still seems to be CURSOR BASED !

    Sorry but this is a half-ass attempt at moving forward with one foot still stuck in the past. I would like to see the batt life and boot time of this crazy aspect ratio device.

    I wouldn’t be worried if I was Apple. No Fear.

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    1. Agree. I just don’t think Windows is right for this sort of device — even if it could run quickly. I’m becoming less convinced that a desktop OS, Mac or PC, is right for a home computer. There is no “personal” in the personal computer like there is on smartphones, iPhones and such.

      The hardware looks great, though. Don’t know if some Android or Linux variant could save this. It needs a professional looking OS that is purpose-built for this sort of device.

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  8. First: I would love to see a solid iPad competitor, a couple of companies (or several) that drive each other to great heights. And hey, I use Windows every day, program for it, etc. I’m no Apple fanboy. BUT

    This thing, though, looks nothing like the competitor that will help push the market forward, and the UI is the primary reason — both the Win 7 UI and the interfaces of the various Air apps.

    Watch it again and look at the demonstrator’s fingers. See how big they are compared to the various things on screen to click on? He only clicks on big things, fortunately, but so many of the UI elements (back button, lots of the in-Flash-app controls, etc.) are built well for a mouse and horribly for a finger.

    But it’s more than that. All of those Air apps being demonstrated are utterly mouse-oriented. They have lots of hover effects you can’t get on a tablet. The UI for a bunch of them is horrible — that NYT crossword app could be 100 times better for a tablet if it was actually designed for one.

    I agree that having Flash on the iPad would be sweet, but Win 7 is a truly terrible operating system compared to the iPhone OS specifically_for_this_use.

    Why’s there no super-streamlined Windows Slate OS? Why a mouse OS for fingers? C’mon, Microsoft, hop to it.

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    1. I noticed that the pop-out keyboard had a tab for handwriting that Adobe doesn’t care about (but I do), meaning it’s Windows 7, not Windows 7 starter.

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  9. “The second video focuses on a key differentiator to Apple’s iPad — the ability to run Adobe Flash. I’m still wondering if Microsoft is skating to the puck while Apple skates to where the puck will be on this one.”

    With the HP Slate running Windows, you could install Chrome, Firefox (it’s shown in the demo) or Windows Safari for HTML5 support, while at the same time supporting Flash. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be both and there’s a lot of Flash content out there now in 2010. Apple not supporting Flash is a weakness that everyone else is likely going to advertise and try to take advantage of.

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    1. Yes and for people who do not want flash, There is always click to flash and flashblock plugins.

      Guess what iPad does not allow me to put plugins.

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  10. Sign me up for one, the only thing i could not see is bootup times, will it start stop / sleep like the IPAD would ?

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