It isn't out for ages, but the HP Slate PC is already being cast as the David in an HP Slate vs iPad battle.
It'll run Flash! It has twin cameras! It will run Windows, unless it doesn't! So what do we actually know about the HP Slate specs, price and release date?
It's time to drive our Truck of Truth through the Roadblock of Rumours. Beep beep!
Even HP says it's HP Slate vs iPad
In a not-deliberately-leaked-oh-no-not-us-no-sirree document that just happened to end up at Engadget, HP very helpfully describes the differences between the HP Slate tablet and the iPad under the headline "HP Slate vs iPad". HP wins on processor speed, expandability, a webcam and expandability, but Apple wins on screen resolution, battery life and - amazingly - price.
The HP Slate specs are pretty impressive
The HP Slate PC is a nifty bit of kit: 1.6HGz Intel Atom Menlow processor, 1GB of RAM, 32 or 64GB of Flash memory that you can expand via the SD card reader, Windows 7 Home Premium and HP's own touch interface.
You get 802.11b/g and Bluetooth, optional 3G, GPS, pen and digitiser support, a VGA webcam, a 3 megapixel camera, a USB port and a dock connector that doubles as an audio interface and HDMI port. The screen's an 8.9-inch WSVGA running at 1024x600 with the obligatory multi-touch panel, light sensor and accelerometer, and graphics come from the 1080p-HD-capable Intel UMA.
The HP Slate price is a bit steep
It's a funny old world when Apple kit is the cheap option, but that's true here: the cheapest iPad is $499, but the cheapest Slate will be $549. That said, the most expensive Slate will be $599 while the priciest iPad will be $829.
European pricing? Like Apple, there's nothing official yet. However, Spanish site Clipset [http://www.clipset.net/hp-slate-primer-contacto/] says it's spoken to HP and the EU price will be €400. At current exchange rates and with VAT on top, that's £410 for the cheapest HP Slate PC.
The HP Slate will run out of puff before the iPad does
The iPad gets 10 hours from its battery; the Slate does five.
The HP Slate will run Flash
Good news for Adobe fans, casual gamers and Chatroulette bits-barers: the Slate supports Flash.
The HP Slate will probably be better for business
Unless HP dumps Windows - more of that in a moment - then the Slate will be the better business machine: it's essentially a Windows PC with the keyboard sawed off.
The iPad's an apple, the Slate is an orange
Where the iPad is an iPod Touch writ large - closed, simple OS, Apple-controlled App Store, little expandability or connectivity - the HP Slate is a PC writ small. That means multitasking, peripherals, getting software from wherever you want and all the other things you expect from a PC, good and bad. It's a completely different philosophy, and it's likely to appeal to a completely different kind of user.
The HP Slate release date might be in 2011
According to Business Insider, HP is being pretty evasive about its Slate release date. That's because…
The HP Slate might run WebOS
HP's acquisition of Palm gives it WebOS, Palm's equivalent of the Apple OS that runs on iPhones, iPods and iPads.
Pretty much everyone on the planet now expects HP to dump Windows and put WebOS on the Slate instead. That could easily push the HP Slate release date back into 2011, by which point a second iPad could be on the cards, and it removes the "it's a PC" selling point. The next few months could be interesting.
The HP Slate has been canned
TechCrunch has reported that a "source" says the Slate has been canned, and that HP may also move away from Intel-based hardware for whatever slate it replaces the, er, Slate with. Both these statements are rumours, though – HP hasn't responded with a comment.
Liked this? Then check out HP's Phil McKinney explains slate PC appeal
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.