HP Ready to Take on Apple’s iPad

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HP's Slate tablet computer was unveiled during CES 2010 in January, and the company looks to be ready to position it squarely against Apple's soon to be released iPad. The PC maker is planning on is reported to be working on refining the device's features ahead of its launch, and plans to undercut Apple's iPad pricing, too, according to to the Wall Street Journal.

Unnamed sources familiar with HP's plans claim company executives will be meeting in the U.S. and Japan over the next few weeks to finalize the Slate's feature set and pricing. Apparently HP is planning on selling the Slate below the 16GB iPad model with Wi-Fi and 3G's US$629 price point.

Where Apple's iPad will be running a version of iPhone OS, however, HP's Slate will run Windows 7 -- an option that may be compelling to some PC users that aren't happy about the idea of being limited to Apple's App Store for additional applications.

Just how well HP's Slate and the iPad hold up against each other, however, remains to be seen. Neither has hit store shelves yet, but if initial consumer interest is any indication, HP may have some extra work in store to keep up with the iPad.

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Battery use will be a problem running Windows 7. Let’s see them get 10 hours out of a battery. And remember, Apple has the option already built in to drop their prices if necessary. At a starting cost of $218 to build, the iPad has a LOT of wiggle room.


I don’t know how much wiggle room on price HP will have. Sure they can use very cheap components, but they are still stuck paying the Microsoft Tax. Each copy of Windows will cost them more than each copy of iPhoce OS costs Apple.

I also think the idea if being ‘limited’ to Apple’s AppStore is oversold. It’s like being imprisoned in North America. There’s a lot of room and options and things to do in there. IMO evidence from iPhone/iPT sales suggest that if that’s imprisonment then a large percentage of customers don’t mind.


Yeah, getting locked in the candy store is such a drag, huh? Especially when it’s growing to the size of a WalMart.

Doug B

If it’s running Windows 7, won’t it be prone to the same problems as a regular PC connected to the internet? Will they be throwing in a free subscription to anti-virus software along with a spyware scanner?


Wiggle room - Microsoft can easily afford to undercut OS X (their development cost / sales gives Windows a far cheaper per unit cost than OS X). And Intel are facing a real challenge in the MID sector from ARM chips,  so there is probably room for a good discount there. Both of them need to prove they can ship an iPad rival.

The biggest thing against them, as far as I can see - Windows 7 running on an Atom netbook isn’t great - it feels underpowered. Battery life, as has been suggested (we’ve seen 8-10 hours Win 7 laptops, and even 8 hour ultra-portables running Win 7, so it’s not impossible - but you’re into the MacBook Air / high-end Sony Vaio pricing bracket).

Then again, you can bring something to market at zero margin, if it’s just about being in the game - and there is going to be a sizable business market interested in the form, but not willing to lose Windows compatibility.

Performance and quality don’t tend to be the driving factors, nor will be the portfolio of games, music sequencers, and fart apps on the AppStore.

By which I mean, AppStore compatibility is a big plus point to consumers with iPods or iPhones, but less so to the IT department with line-of-business apps written in something Win32 based.


HP may think they are in the same market as the iPad.  But the iPad is about to create a new market, one based on the needs of most casual computer users, while HP is in the same market that other tablets computers have aimed for (and failed to woo).  Windows 7 is the jack of all trades but master of none, and it’s no different than what desktop OS’ have offered for years. 

The iPad promises to be something different.  Not so much a computer as we have known them that cater to the most technically inclined of society, but an electronic device that does the things most people want to do: Web surfing, e-mail, media consuming & sharing. 

So HP can kid themselves all they want about competing with the iPad.  But in the end it’s no different than comparing apples and oranges.

Dean Lewis

My roommate has been wanting something that would give him quicker access to the internet and email for a long time. He just wants to fire up something to check out a website he’s seen mentioned on the TV or check his email during commercial breaks or even look up an actor’s IMDB info, plus show off some video clips he has found to friends as they sit and chat. He bought a laptop PC, but it’s too big and too slow to boot up for his needs. He has looked at netbooks, but none of them have impressed him that they’ll do the job, either. He is 90% certain the iPad is going to fit the bill—just has to try one out at the Apple Store when they come out. If it is as responsive and quick as some reporters have said (the ones that have actually held and used one) and if he can live without some heavy flash-based sites he checks out (mostly for console games), he’s sold.

So, there’s part of the market right away: people who just want something that works in a reasonable amount of time (i.e. what they are looking up hasn’t totally passed by while they waited for the machine to boot). Even Windows’ cached booting doesn’t help—unless Windows 7 improved that and improved it enough?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I must be the only person who has a Windows laptop that sleeps when I close the lid and awakens when I open it. Also Dean, your roommate better hope those websites he sees on TV don’t have Flash. He’ll be waiting years (literally!) for those to display correctly on the iPad.


your roommate better hope those websites he sees on TV don?t have Flash. He?ll be waiting years (literally!) for those to display correctly on the iPad.

Actually, YouTube and Vimeo both have HTML 5 betas out right now (also worth noting is that virtually everything, including Safari, is already compliant, IE isn’t. Refreshing). I don’t think Flash will vanish overnight or anything, but the alternatives are already arriving. The way Adobe has been bending over backward to placate the Mac community of late is enough to tell me they are well aware of this fact. wink

And don’t start with me, sonny. It’s improved greatly these past couple of years (not saying much, really. They’ve caught up just in time for everyone else to move ahead), but for what seemed like an eternity, it was a pain in the a$$ to get anything to display correctly in Microsoft’s train wreck of proprietary garbage.


At a starting cost of $218 to build, the iPad has a LOT of wiggle room.

This figure’s come up before. Still doesn’t mean much. It certainly doesn’t mean that Apple profits a cool $281 on each entry-level iPad.

Citing $218 ignores the fact that a selling price also has to address the past years of R&D, present marketing, and ongoing product management. For that matter, the market price of an iPad, like every other product, also has to pay for everything down to lawn maintenance, air conditioner filters, office chairs, and toilet paper at 1 Infinite Loop.

If the $218 figure meant anything, then a 30-day supply of most prescription medications available in your standard pharmacy should cost, ohh, what ? maybe 30-40 cents?

Sure, I expect prices to drift downward over the next few months, but not for this reasoning.

Lars Pallesen

So, which programmes will the happy new owners of those Win7 tablets be running on their tablets? Standard Windows programmes? But they are all written for a mouse & keyboard interface, not a touchscreen interface?

It may be that Win7 has some “touchfriendliness” built into it, but what good is that gonna do you, if the programmes you run on top of Win7 aren’t built for a touch interface? What am I missing here?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Lars, What you’re missing is that there are a couple trends with desktop PC software (Mac and Windows). One is to be able to fit on netbooks screens (1024 x 600), often running in a full screen mode. Another is to have touchable controls. Maybe the software you have today won’t have that, but astute developers will have that for you in an upgrade. These two issues have been dominating my development time since last Spring. The kids love the improvements. It’s a shame that Apple won’t offer something that can take advantage.

Dean Lewis

My roommate’s already examining the Flash issue, has blocked it on his Windows systems anyway, and is pretty certain the majority of what he’ll be using an iPad for will not suffer for the lack of Flash. Many sites have alternative views of pages for people who do not have Flash installed, and the number of them increases each month. There are, if necessary, ways being developed to view Flash content on the iPhone OS.

But, then, Bosco is a programmer and regular MacObserver reader and knows all of this, so his mention of Flash is just more trolling—which I have readily fallen for. Hooray for Bosco and boo for me.

Any chance this forum software can hide quoted text of ignored people as well?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Well Dean, since your roommate is doing all sorts of research, let’s look to the future. What do you think the chances are that iPad will support Silverlight? At the end of 2010, Silverlight will be a very hot platform because it will be the cheap and easy way onto Windows Phone 7 Series. And its rising popularity will beg the question of whether Steve Jobs just does not want alternative channels to the App Store on iPhone or iPad. But that’s tomorrow’s problem grin.

Lars Pallesen

@Bosco, I admit I’m struggling to follow your logic here. Supposedly the big advantage of a Win7 tablet would be, that there’s a bazillion software titles made for Windows out there, right? This is the huge ecosystem that will put the iPad to shame, as far as I understand you PC-guys?

Except, none of these windows programmes are actually built for a touch tablet user interface? Please tell me how that is not going to affect the user experience negatively for those rushing out to buy the HP Tablet or any other Win7-based tablet, where the touchscreen is the only user interface?


Hmmm, it doesn’t really sound like any of you really have a clue as to what the future holds.  Sounds like the same old “Apple’s better, Windows’s better” stuff.

What all of you are forgetting…this is a business.  Apple has their fans, Windows does to.  The biggest thing against the iPad right now in my opinion is multitasking, something that had to be hacked on the iPhone and iPod to work.  And I don’t know what some of you are using to measure running Windows 7 on an Atom processor, but do you really even know what it is?  Atom processors contain the Hyper-Threading tech that many P4 processors had that were at the time more than adequate.

I had a Asus Aspire Netbook with an Atom processor.  Came only with Windows XP home.  The slowest thing on it was the HD, which ran at 5400RPM or lower.  However, believe it or not, I was able to do 3D rendering and Photoshop work on it and I didn’t have to wait hours.

Then, I installed Windows 7 for testing, leaving out the fluff of Aero and other non-important display enhancements.  Not only did it improve battery life, but it didn’t perform any less than it did with Windows XP Home.  It actually performed a little better.  But nothing can save you from a low spinning HD.

Apple may have more applications configured with touch-sensitivity, but you all who think Microsoft couldn’t and won’t catch up are lying to yourselves.  Apple’s best selling mechanism is it’s Apps and iTunes stores.  Any way Apple can make you continue to support those stores,they are going to shove on to you because they know how to work customer.

I say, let the battle begin.  Die-hard Apple fans are going to adopt the iPad anyway just because it’s Apple, not because it’s necessarily better.

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