Print 13 comment(s) - last by michael2k.. on Jan 19 at 7:36 PM

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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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.

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