By Randy Giusto- HP last week announced its Slate 500 Tablet PC aimed at enterprise customers including executives and mobile workers (read- verticals). The Slate 500 sports an 8.9″ display, runs Windows 7 Professional, and thereby is a full-fledged PC.

Hewlett-Packard Slate 500 tablet

Source: Hewlett-Packard

While you can navigate on screen via finger or stylus, HP didn’t integrate a full touch-oriented UI. It’s expected that HP will bring a more consumer-oriented tablet running WebOS to market early next year (CES timeframe?), but I wonder why the differentiation between enterprise and consumer, two operating systems, and different touch UIs when the iPad is getting such a favorable enterprise nod these days.

To me, it seems like HP (or any vendor for that manner) can I’ll afford so many different tablet SKUs and platforms, at the expense of product launch, marketing and support budgets. Using the words “Tablet PC” is also a real turn off.

Carol Hess-Nickels, Director of Worldwide Business Notebook Marketing in HP PSG stated that the decision on the Slate 500 UI was to allow IT pros to add their own corporate-focused custom overlays to the offering.  I don’t see major corporations doing this for executives, salespeople, and mobile professionals, as they have few resources to get into this kind of development work. However, vertical solutions may be one interesting area where companies may want to specialize in an overlay, but that translates to small volume potential in the face of iPad.

Unlike iPad, HP’s tablet does support true high-definition video, USB, SD cards, and has a VPN program (but is it the one your company uses?) and has a rubberized back. A   VGA quality webcam is on the front along with a 3-megapixel camera on the back. While I can envision doing webcam-based conferencing on a tablet, I’m not sold on taking photos by holding up the device. The Slate 500 also offers Bluetooth and 802.11 b/g/n support. HP is selling the device for $799 that comes standard with a case, pen, and dock.

But without a full touch UI, the Slate 500 may be more of a technology statement than a successful product.


– Randy Giusto