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HP releases new Slate tablet after retaining PC unit

Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced the new Slate 2 tablet with the Windows 7 OS, just under a week after the company announced it would retain its PC unit.

The Slate 2 tablet has an 8.9-inch capacitive touch display and is an update to the company’s first tablet, the Slate 500, which was released last year. Targeted at businesses, the Slate 2 includes faster hardware including Intel’s Atom Z670 processor, HP said.

HP was able to drop the tablet’s starting price to US$699 by making a configuration available with just 32GB storage which also includes Wi-Fi and Windows 7 Home Premium, according to the company.

HP said that the Slate 2 will become available worldwide in November.

This is the first tablet announced by HP after the company said it would keep its Personal Systems Group (PSG), which deals in smartphones, tablets and PCs.

HP was offering the Slate 500 tablet when it said it would sell or spin off PSG, and subsequently killed the TouchPad tablets and Palm smartphones with WebOS.

The future of HP’s tablets and PCs now revolve around Windows 8, and the company will release a Windows 8 tablet in the future, it was reported.

Slate 2 is based on Windows 7, but HP officials did not say whether an upgrade path would be offered to Windows 8.

“As a business tablet, the Slate 2 easily integrates in Windows environments,” said Kyle Thornton, category manager for emerging products at HP. “Much like PCs, the tablet can run custom applications written for x86 processors and the Windows OS,” he added.

“Enterprise customers are really looking for easy integration into their infrastructure,” Thornton said. He said that additional work was needed to fit devices based on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS into IT environments.

“The Slate 2 can be used to access corporate documents or take notes through stylus input,” Thornton said. With an optional external keyboard, the device can double up as a PC, according to him.

The Slate 2 also has security and management features so system administrators can remotely manage the device, HP said. “Data on the tablet can be remotely wiped in case of theft, and HP is bundling Absolute Software’s Computrace Pro, which helps track lost tablets. The tablet’s chip also includes Trusted Platform Management, a hardware-based cryptography and authentication technology,” added Thornton

“Also offered is a tool for system administrators to deploy a standardised software image across hundreds of tablets,” Thornton said.

The tablet has Intel’s latest mobile processor, the single-core Atom Z670, which runs at a clock speed of 1.5GHz. The Z670 has accelerators to decode 1080p video, and Intel has said the chip can work with Android 3.0, which is code-named Honeycomb. HP declined to say if the tablet would be offered with Android 3.0.

HP will compete with Dell, which last week announced the Windows 7-based Latitude ST tablet, and Cisco, which offers the Android-based Cius tablet, analysts said. Apple’s iPad is the top enterprise tablet today, and is being used to access email, calendars, the Web and corporate documents, they added.

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