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HP Back In Tablets!

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Hewlett-Packard is back in the tablet market with the announcement of a new Windows 7-based slate product.

Aptly called the Slate 2 Tablet PC, the device is more personal computer than tablet in the mode of the iPad or HP's own (now defunct) TouchPad. Unlike those tablets and the hordes of Android-run models from the likes of Samsung, Motorola, etc., the Slate 2 is aimed squarely at business and vertical markets such as education, healthcare, government and retail.

Due to ship later this month, the 1.5-pound Slate 2, which starts at $699, runs on Intel's Atom Z670 processor with mSATA SSM technology that promises to deliver fast boot times—important for any tablet, especially one that is essentially a Windows laptop without a keyboard. The Slate 2 supports both pen and multitouch input on its 8.9-inch display and up to six hours of typical use on a single battery charge, according to HP.

As a Windows device, the Slate 2 should be manageable within your company’s exiting Microsoft IT infrastructure. The Slate 2 embeds a TPM Security Chip to help protect data and comes with support HP Protect tools for user control and management. Additionally, there's support for Computrace Pro, which allows IT to remotely wipe a lost or stolen Slate 2.

Some additional specs include Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, a front-facing VGA webcam and 3-megapixel camera on the back, SRS Premium sound, 2 GB 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, up to a 64GB solid state drive, SD card slot, a USB port and headphone/mic jacks. A dock with two USB 2.0 and HDMI ports is also available. The Slate 2 measures 9.21 x 0.61 x 5.9 inches.

Optional accessories include an all-in-one Bluetooth Keyboard and Case and an HP Retail Mobile Point of Sale Case with an integrated magnetic stripe reader and barcode scanner for retailers.

HP Slate 2 TabletHP Slate 2 Tablet

The Slate 2 demonstrates HP's commitment to the tablet format for business. It isn't by any means a recommitment to the webOS or the TouchPad, both of which were nixed by former CEO Leo Apotheker, who also attempted to rid the company of its Personal Systems Groupl. Shortly after that, the HP board booted Apotheker and hired former eBay head Meg Whitman to take on the CEO role.

Whitman decided to keep HP in the PC business, but there's been no indication that the fate of the webOS and TouchPad will be reversed as well.

“HP is dedicated to the tablet PC category and continues to listen to customers and improve the product in ways that best address their business needs,” said Dan Forlenza, vice president and general manager for HP's Commercial Managed IT Segment, in a statement “The HP Slate includes the right mix of rich features, support for custom-built applications, and the security and connectivity needed for today’s highly mobile and rigorous day-to-day professional environment.”

HP has decided to go with Microsoft's tablet-friendly Windows 8 platform for future slates, business and consumer, when the operating system is released next year. It'll provide the company, which is still the leading PC vendor in the world, a common operating system to use across all its personal computer products.

James Alan MillerJames Alan MillerJames Alan Miller is Managing Editor of Tom's IT Pro. He is a veteran technology journalist with over seventeen years of experience creating and developing magazine and online content. Founding editor of numerous business and enterprise computing sites at the network, James headed up the After Hours section at PC Magazine, as well as hardware and software sections of various Windows publications.