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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: 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.


“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith














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