But can the HP Slate do anything else? That's not so clear. It's Windows 7-based, so is it also a PC? HP isn't saying so far, which makes me think not. Even if it were a Windows 7 PC, that could be a bad thing: The touch UI in Windows 7 is not very good, and most apps aren't designed to use it effectively, so running regular Windows apps on the HP Slate would likely be a tearful experience.
Fusion Garage's JooJoo
Michael Arrington, that crazy TechCrunch blogger and producer of the inane TechCrunch startups conference, ran an online soap opera about the development of this tablet for much of 2009. He and his tech partner parted ways, and what had been called the CrunchPad became the JooJoo. It allegedly began shipping this week, though none of the gadget sites have reviewed it, so I'm skeptical. Plus, Fusion Garage accepts payment only via PayPal -- not a good sign that there's a real company behind the JooJoo.
What it purports to do is be a portable Web browser for use over Wi-Fi connections -- that's it. For the same $499 price as a basic iPad, you get a slate that boots into a browser from which you can surf the Web and view Flash videos on Web pages, as well as for Web-based videoconferencing. That's it -- a one-trick pony.
Dell's Mini 5
Also shown in concept form at CES, the Dell Mini 5 is an Android-based slate that's bigger than iPod Touch and smaller than an iPad, meant primarily for Web surfing and video watching. Dell gave reporters a very brief sneak peek at the device and its 5-inch screen, and there's almost no information on specs or even how real this device is. Allegedly, Michael Dell himself showed the device at another conference and was "caught on tape" by TechCrunch doing so (you can see the video below; if you can't see the video below, go to this page). I'm skeptical this wasn't either a planned tease or a fictional encounter.
I'm not convinced the product will ever ship, but there's a chance, given Dell's interest in dabbling again with mobile devices, this time using the Android OS rather than Windows Mobile.
Lenovo's IdeaPad U1
This is the oddest, but in some ways most compelling, nonexistent tablet to consider. Lenovo has formally announced it will ship the U1 in summer 2010, so it will be a real product at some point. It's a Windows 7 notebook whose LCD screen is detachable. When detached, the LCD screen works as a stand-alone Web slate, letting you access the Web over a 3G cellular connection using a Linux-derived OS and a touch-based UI. It's not clear what will run in theWeb slate's browser, such as Flash or other video services. Assuming you could watch Netflix or Hulu videos on the Web slate, the U1 could make for a nice travel computer, where you don't have to have the whole computer with you in the hotel when watching your shows (laptops do tend to overheat when set on the bed's blankets) at the end of the day.