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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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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.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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