Can HP's Slate 2 Succeed Ahead of Windows 8?

Even in the current state of uncertainty, HP continues its PC operations with a new Slate tablet device. Will professional users fancy a Windows 7 runner, or hang on for the super-sleek Windows 8 era?

Tablets for Real Windows Users

The tablet PC market is way older than those iPad-led media tablet upstarts, but has never seen much glory due to high costs and lack of features. Windows 7 packed in the features needed for touch computing, but there have never been enough devices on sale to make it more than a tiny niche.

HP, in a state of flux after the TouchPad problems, is still pushing ahead in this field with the launch of a Slate 2 model. Packing a 8.9-inch capacitive multi-touch screen, it supports both touch and stylus contact, for general or more accurate input. 

Inside the thick metal-banded case is a new netbook-class Intel Atom Z670 CPU with 32 or 64 GB of storage and hugely improved battery life (up to six hours). There's a pair of cameras, a 3-megapixel rear and a front VGA, one to enable video calling through Skype and other services.

slate2_slide.jpg

Stylish but chunky -- is there room in an executive's life for one?

Around the Back

Around the case are various features including volume controls, a USB port and power button. A, presumably optional, dock is available to help connect the unit to your desktop peripherals to make it a regular notebook-style screen and there's HDMI for connection to big-screen TVs.

Expected to retail at around US$ 699, the Slate 2 is due out later this month. It is clearly aimed at the executive market, but last time we looked, most of them were touting iPads or other tablets, regardless of their IT department's urgings about security. The inclusion of a trusted-computing module on the Slate 2 is unlikely to make anyone switch.

Also, with HP linking a revived TouchPad range to the upcoming Windows 8, which is designed for tablet use, the Slate 2 could have a short shelf life indeed.