Let’s face it, “iSlate” never had a hope of appearing on an Apple product. I’m not saying that the mental image suggested by an iPad is not without its problems but “iSlate” just doesn’t sound Apple enough to be proudly displayed on an Apple product. It sounds, well, rather common, unattractive, unworthy.

hp-slate-steve-balmerHowever, the world of technology is not one to waste a good marketing opportunity and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer revealed a HP tablet gadget named the “Slate” last month which will run on Windows 7. Not exactly the “iSlate” of legend but clever marketing nonetheless, although HP’s Phil McKinney would have us believe that the timing of the product release had nothing to do with the appearance of Apple’s tablet, saying that the “Slate” has been in development for at least five years and that the company has chosen to release it in 2010 to fill a consumer device gap currently occupied by e-readers and geared towards those who want a much more multimedia-rich experience than an e-reader can deliver.

A short piece in the Wall Street Journal recently suggests that HP does indeed have its sights on Apple, the article claiming that HP is now planning to undercut Apple’s pricing to try and tempt anyone disappointed with the iPad’s feature spread into the HP camp. Although there’s no official word on when the “Slate” is likely to appear, McKinney has confirmed a 2010 release so keep an eye on HP’s Twitter page for product announcements.

x2Another manufacturer hoping to tap into whatever success Apple makes of the tablet market is rugged mobile computer manufacturer X2. Its more obviously-named leap into Apple territory, called the “iTablet”, will come in two sizes – 10.2in or 12.1in – and be powered by Intel’s N270 1.6 GHz Atom processor. Like HP’s “Slate”, the multitouch “iTablet” will run on Windows 7 (although a Linux version will also be available).

More iPad holes are filled with a 1.3 megapixel webcam and a 250Gb storage medium being announced, as well as Flash support of course. Jonathan Wharrad of X2 said at the launch, the “iTablet will empower users with unlimited technology and advanced multimedia access across multiple platforms without being restricted to exclusive content providers.” The “iTablet” is scheduled for an April release.

Other tablet developments of note include Dell’s plans to release a mini tablet PC, so far rumored as either the “Slate” or “Streak”, which is believed to run on Android and will have a 5in touchscreen interface – a little bigger than a mobile phone, a lot smaller than most of the offerings from the competition (with the possible exception of eviGroup’s Wallet). Rulers of the netbook realm, Asus, is also thought to be getting ready to unleash an “Eee tablet” onto the world by the summer and has already confirmed a notebook/tablet device to fill the gap in the meantime, the EeePC T101MT.

Another summer tablet release was confirmed at the Mobile World Congress recently, Notion Ink’s Adam Tablet. iPad trouncing specs include a 10in transflective LCD Pixel-Qi screen, a choice of Chromium/Android/Ubuntu operating systems, nVidia Tegra 2 dual core processor, a 3 megapixel camera and a starting price from $327. A contender?

Whatever your thoughts on Apple’s iPad, it’s clear that 2010 is going to be the year of the tablet. Whether it’s going to prove a monumental marketing disaster or a huge commercial success there are a couple of things you can be sure of:

  • the tablet PC will never be far from front page news
  • Apple’s iPad will constantly be up against technically superior rivals


Will the iPhone-like interface and must-have desirability that tends to surround most Apple products be enough to tempt tech-heads to ditch our e-readers and notebooks (and to ignore the superior competition completely) and pounce on the iPad when it makes its commercial debut in the coming months?