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An artist's render of the Opal/Topaz, HP's upcoming 7- and 9-inch webOS 2.0 tablets.  (Source: Engadget)

Engadget posted a leaked release schedule for the tablets. Note Topaz (the larger device) is not on this list.  (Source: Engadget)
WebOS tablet prototypes have largely been lost in the sea of higher profile competitors

According to Engadget, Hewlett-Packard subsidiary Palm is preparing a pair of tablets to try to create an identity for itself in this hot market.  It was long expected that Hewlett-Packard, the world leader in personal computer shipments, would come up with a legitimate tablet competitor.  

With the acquisition of Palm, the giant seemed to have the intellectual property -- including a proprietary mobile operating system (webOS) -- necessary to mount such a campaign.  But eight months later HP has only delivered one tablet -- the Slate 500 (formerly code-named "Hurricane"), which was an Intel-based tablet that used Windows 7 instead of webOS.

With the arrival of webOS 2.0 (code-named "Mansion"), the speculation about a webOS tablet has yet again peaked, and this time it appears we may have true webOS tablets on our hands.  Renders of a 9-inch tablet code-named "Topaz" and a 7-inch tablet code-named "Opal" hit the web ahead of a special February 9 event, whose tagline is "Think big.  Think small.  Think beyond."

According to the tipster, the unit packs a button-free design, a single front-facing camera, a Micro USB port, and three-speaker surround sound (similar to the upcoming Sony Vaio tablet).  The unit reportedly runs on a 1.2 GHz processor, though it is unknown whether that is an Intel low-voltage Atom SoC, an ARM chip such as a NVIDIA Tegra 2, or refreshed Qualcomm Snapdragon.

Prototype builds will reportedly arrive by June, with the commercial release of Wi-Fi-only, AT&T 3G, and Verizon LTE versions of the Opal slated for September 2011, and on AT&T LTE in July 2012.  There's no word yet when the Topaz will launch, but it will likely follow a similar timeframe.  

Also unknown is the planned production volumes.  The Slate 500 only had an initial production run of 5,000 units and actually faced a demand overrun when HP logged 9,000 orders forcing the company to inform customers of a disappointing backorder.  HP will likely be looking to better keep up with demand and commit to a larger launch this time around, if it hopes to keep up in the tablet market.

HP has plenty to worry about in that regard.  WebOS has yet to grace a production tablet.  Meanwhile, Windows 7 has crept into the tablet space and Android and iOS are waging a full-fledged war for tablet dominance.  Most of the other big players in the tablet space (barring Apple) are backing Android, though Intel claims that more Windows 7 tablets are on their way too.

WebOS 2.0 has the potential to do well in the tablet space if HP commits to it sufficiently.  Like Android and iOS, it was built with a mobile, app-driven, touch-centric world in mind, versus a traditional operating system like Windows 7 that feels somewhat clunky on a tablet, according to some reviewers.

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Windows kinda defeats the purpose of a tablet
By Solandri on 1/18/11, Rating: 0
By AssBall on 1/18/2011 7:17:12 PM , Rating: 4
If they want decreased functionality, why don't the people who buy tablets just get a coloring book to entertain themselves? It is cheaper and more fun than jerking around with a useless I-Pad.

By maverick85wd on 1/18/2011 9:48:32 PM , Rating: 4
They want a simple, lightweight, and cheap unit which can replace the clipboard or pad and pen while having the display capabilities of a netboook/notebook.

I would agree that this is what some businesses and individuals would like for note-taking and other administrative tasks. And you're correct - a device capable of those things does not need very powerful hardware.

It's not, however, what everyone wants (and I doubt it's what most people want, either).

Sales of those were lackluster because the whole point of a tablet is to carry the minimum necessary functionality

Again, I disagree. Until very recently, the hardware capable of high resolution video, high speed data transfer, and modern storage requirements was not small or cheap enough to mass produce mobile devices that require it.

Apple's iPad succeeded because they were willing to ignore Microsoft/Intel's Tablet PC concept and go with their own idea - a simpler, less featured, smaller, and less expensive tablet.

Yet again, I disagree. Apple's succeeded because they made a giant iPhone and then charged MORE for it. I don't know what your definition of cheap is, but I don't consider a device that doesn't even have a USB port and comes with 16GB of non-upgradeable secondary storage as cheap. And that's only touching on the iPad's shortcomings.

By maverick85wd on 1/18/2011 9:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
Again, I disagree. Until very recently, the hardware capable of high resolution video, high speed data transfer, and modern storage requirements was not small or cheap enough to mass produce mobile devices that require it.

I realize that the display, battery, and other factors also took time to develop, I was just making a point.

This comment was created to point out that I meant 'Apple's iPad' in my last paragraph. iPad got cut out while I was editing somehow.

DT: Wiki style editing PRETTY PLEASE!!

By michael2k on 1/19/2011 7:27:52 PM , Rating: 2
The iPad is the definition of cheap.

A $1600 Fujitsu Stylistic 10.4" 1.2GHz C2D is the definition of expensive.

Also, the iPad costs less than an iPhone. The base iPhone, unsubsidized, is a little over $500, while the iPad is $499.

By Targon on 1/19/2011 6:13:02 AM , Rating: 3
The last "tablet" cycle was back in the days when a 15.4 inch LAPTOP would weigh upwards of 7 pounds. Companies also were using Intel graphics which did not help on the performance end of things, and battery life, due to the machine being a normal laptop with reversible screen was also far from good.

This is what others are saying as well, where the iPad really isn't a great device, and only is the first modern tablet. Considering the weaknesses in multitasking on the iPhone and iPod Touch, it is no wonder the iPad will see so much competition, and will be shown to be inferior once GOOD tablets hit the market. The WebOS tablets have a lot of potential since WebOS really is a great OS and has only lacked high end hardware to really compete.

RE: Windows kinda defeats the purpose of a tablet
By Da W on 1/19/2011 10:51:54 AM , Rating: 2
Apple got it right on the form factor.
But many people want a tablet to surf the web and play music and videos too. What's the point of these decades of more and more hard disk space to store "your pictures, musics and videos" like the ads said if we throw it all to the garbage and stick with a 16GB iPad? You want it to sync seemlessly with your PC. Might want it to carry business documents with you. Hell have some work done.

Windows can do more than an iPad. It's just not small enough yet. But it's coming. You gotta see long term.

By michael2k on 1/19/2011 7:36:37 PM , Rating: 2
Apple got it right on the price, battery life, and timing.
But many people want a tablet to surf the web and play music and videos too. What's the point of waiting three years for Microsoft to catch up when you can get an iPad now and upgrade later when Flash capacity, CPU performance, and GPU performance catch up?

iPad exists now. It's just not powerful enough nor have enough storage. But it's coming. You gotta see long term.

Not to be that guy but...
By teh cilantro on 1/18/2011 5:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
But eight months later Dell has only delivered one tablet --

I do believe Dell has nothing to do with HP Palm.

RE: Not to be that guy but...
By dsumanik on 1/18/2011 8:50:46 PM , Rating: 2
I think the true future is what motorola is onto with the atrix.

You carry the small/efficient/powerful core processing/data storage unit with you, then plug it into various interfaces like a monitor, notebook shell, or touch tablet that all have chargeable, large capacity batteries and additional storage...

We have hit the point now where something the size of a pack of cigarettes has the speed and power to do what most people need a computer to do (browse, play media, communicate, light gaming) is the Dream device in my opinion:


GSM/CDMA World phone
Dual Micro SIM, one physical slot, second is programmable.
onboard SSD and expandable flash memory slot
HDMI out
Dual USB 3.0 ports
High DPI 4" touch screen native wuxga resolution (1920x1200)
wifi abgn/bluetooth 3.0
AM/FM/XM sat radio
Onboard dual cameras
Xenon Camera Flash
Dedicated high intensity Top mounted LED FLashlight
mini projector
laser pointer
IR Transmitter
NFC capable
fingerprint scanner
multi core/2gb/ +


magnesium/titanium casing waterproof to 10M
Lanyard Loopholes
User replaceable battery
solar charging cells on the backside of device
no buttons on the display side of the device to enable more screen real estate. 4 User Programmable Physical buttons on the both sides laid out in symmetrical pattern so both left and right handed users are equally comfortable.


I would envision all docks to have additional battery and memory storage that can be set to extend capacity or mirror the data on the core device.

Monitor Housing
Keyboard Dock (built in display/USB/memorycard ports)
Tablet housing
Notebook housing
Shockproof housing that floats for hiking/hunting/traveling etc
SLR Camera Housing
Combination HI-GAIN antenna / Satellite / Phone housing

One Device to rule them all.

RE: Not to be that guy but...
By ZaethDekar on 1/19/2011 12:04:11 AM , Rating: 2
I am sure they could do this but battery life would be ~2 hours tops with all that on; and the cost would be ~$3,000 I would think. Maybe even more.

Popential is there...
By mavricxx on 1/19/2011 12:24:32 AM , Rating: 2
As the written- the potential is there, BUT for HP to capitalize, they need to make better WebOS smart phones. Ones that are top of the line with the latest features and make them popular like Apple and Google did. If they don't make top of the line smart phones and make WebOS a household name the way Android did... people will not follow.

RE: Popential is there...
By Targon on 1/19/2011 6:27:35 AM , Rating: 3
The Palm Pre Plus when it was launched on Verizon had the iPhone 3GS to compete with. So they were competing with a 600MHz phone, not a 1GHz phone. The quality of the Plus versions was also pretty good, if not flawless.

The reason the Pre Plus(not the original Pre) did not sell well is because Verizon did not demo the phone to customers, pushing only "Droid" phones, and AT&T has been too busy giving Steve Jobs "head" to notice that the majority of customers use devices other than the iPhone. Without sales people even showing the Pre Plus to prospective customers, all a customer would see would be a small(3.2 inch) device that was probably closed in the display case and not turned on, so customers would not even ask about it.

A lack of any advertising that would generate HYPE for the product was also missing, with the only commercials being very subdued and not really generating interest. I have seen more interesting commercials for energy companies on cable news channels than Palm put out.

Think about it, May of 2009, a 600MHz phone with a physical keyboard, 16 gigs of storage, and 512MB of RAM...pretty standard hardware specs for when the Pre Plus launched on AT&T. It may not have been BETTER than the other devices, but at the time, there was no reason it didn't do decently except a lack of advertising.

Without hype, developers do not go out of their way to code for a device, and you end up with a product that only has 5000-6000 apps(which is still decent since there are fairly few duplicates).

The Touchstone, an accessory that was also not hyped and sales people had no clue about, is an induction charger for the Palm phones, so to charge the phone, you don't have to plug a cable into it, you just set it on the charger. Customers would have gone out of their way to buy a Palm phone if they didn't need to plug it in to charge. Again, no advertising, and sales people still have no clue about the strengths of the WebOS devices.

These days, upwards of 90 percent of all Palm Pre and Pre Plus devices can run at 800MHz, with at least 80 percent being able to run comfortably at 1GHz. Even today, 1GHz with 512MB of RAM would be seen as a VERY acceptable phone. And on top of this, WebOS 2.0 is already done and on the Pre 2 which has not been released for any carrier in the USA yet, but will be available for all existing WebOS devices, probably on or shortly after the Feb 9th event.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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