HP reveled most of its tablet strategy yesterday at the Fortune’s Brainstorm conference. The Windows 7 HP Slate is headed to the enterprise sector this fall while the webOS-powerPalmpad will go head-to-head against the iPad later. The plan itself really isn’t that surprising as I saw this coming shortly after Palmpad was trademarked. But what I didn’t expect was the outcry from consumers who actually want a Windows 7 Slate. It’s clear HP should take a long look a limited consumer market release for the Win7 Slate.
I’ve said it over and over and over. Windows 7 is horrible via a touch interface. It’s simply not meant to be used with your fingers. However, the HP Slate is said to come with a stylus and if said stylus is an active digitizer like Wacom tablets, it could be awesome and what’s been missing from Windows tablets for so long. I still believe webOS has a better chance to catch on as Windows tablets have been around longer than Apple has been making the iPod and have yet to sell well, but why not have both options available and let the market decide? At least our readers want it.
Scan over the last few posts we did about the subject. (Here, here, and here) Once you filter out all the rapid anti-Microsoft and pro-Apple conversations, you’re left with a common theme. People are alright using a stylus as long as it’s as good as those used on a Wacom Tablet. They are great for taking notes, interacting with the user interface, and drawing. They say it opens up the tablet format to be truly useful as a main computing device where the Palmpad is simply a dumbed-down computer, which is fine for some, but others want more.
It’s a fair point. Up until the iPad came around, the main market for tablets was the medical and enterprise space. And most of the time the tablets are really convertible notebooks with screens that swivel around to hide the standard keyboard. It offers the best of both worlds as the tablet form factor can be convenient but also bothersome without a dedicated mouse device for interacting with Windows. An active digitizer could change that. They are more precious than a non-powered stylus or finger and are even superior to a trackpad for drawing and designing.
HP, it would be a shame to see the Slate kept under the enterprise sector’s tent. It should be available on the consumer market, too. Enterprise-only products are never priced competitively or marketed well. Give it to a couple of retailers like Best Buy and Office Max and see what happens. It’s not for me, but a lot of everyday consumers desperately want a full OS tablet and you have one that looks to be killer. Let ‘em buy it.