HP Slate 500 brings professional spin to the tablet wars

HP Slate 500 is a business machine, not a toy – and therein, says HP, lies the difference.

The HP Slate 500 is the latest device to hit the crowded tablet market.

In recent months, most of the major tech players have jumped – or announced they will jump – headfirst into the tablet market. Apple has the iPad (and so does Verizon Wireless), RIM has the BlackBerry PlayBook, and Samsung has the Galaxy Tab, a tablet powered by the Android OS. And now Hewlett-Packard has its own flatscreen computing device.

On Thursday, HP unveiled the Slate 500, which runs the Windows 7 operating system. Among the niceties found on the HP Slate 500 are a webcam, 3 megapixel camera, a memory card slot, a 1.86 GHz processor, and 2GB of RAM. It's a workhorse, in other words – a full-featured, sleek tablet device with almost as much juice as your laptop.

The HP Slate 500 – unlike, say, the iPad – is aimed directly at business consumers. In a blurb on the HP site, the manufacturer describes the device as the "ideal PC for professionals who don’t usually work at a traditional desk, yet need to stay productive in a secure, familiar Windows environment." The Slate 500 is available now, for $799, either through the HP site or one of the HP partner channels.

So how will the HP Slate 500 stack up? Over at Computerworld, Mike Elgan says the HP Slate 500 doesn't stack up, and that's the point – the HP Slate 500 is an entirely different type of device. "The Slate is running the same operating system as your desktop PC and laptop, assuming you're a Windows 7 user," Elgan writes. "It's running components designed for PCs, including 8 times the amount of RAM that's in an iPad. It runs PC applications unmodified."

The iPad, however, "is neither a PC nor an alternative to a PC. You use it in addition to using a PC. It's an entirely different class of device designed from the ground up to function as an information appliance.... The HP Slate is not a post-PC, MPG, 3rd-generation, super-usable, multi-market, App Store-model, visionary device," Elgan adds. "So, everybody, please stop comparing it with the iPad."

Fair enough. Over to you – do you have an HP Slate 500? Are you in the market for one?

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