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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 1/18/2011 5:40:19 PM , Rating: 0
quote:
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.

For years Microsoft/Intel steered manufacturers the wrong way in the tablet market. In order to maintain their high-profit Windows and x86 CPU sales, they promoted tablets as full-blown notebook computers which could be used (rather clumsily) in tablet format. And now, here they are doing it again - trying to promote Windows and making noises about more powerful Intel CPUs on a tablet.

The point of a tablet isn't to carry your PC with you. The bastard 4-6 lb Tablet PCs which Microsoft and Intel promoted for a decade were just notebooks which could be converted into (heavy) tablets. Sales of those were lackluster because the whole point of a tablet is to carry the minimum necessary functionality with you to get simple reading, referencing, and note-taking tasks done. You don't need full blown Windows and an x86 CPU for that; indeed it'd be a waste of resources (memory, CPU cycles, battery, weight, $$$$) to put something with so much capability onto a tablet.

Tablet PCs failed because what Microsoft/Intel is selling is not what people and companies want in a tablet. 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. 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. I still say the iPad is only scratching the surface of the potential market though, because Apple is overpricing it and deliberately crippling the functionality to appease their publishing industry partners.




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
quote:
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).

quote:
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.

quote:
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
quote:
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.


"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad














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