HP to release 7-inch webOS tablet in August?

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Inventec, a major contract manufacturer of personal computers in Taiwan, has received big-ticket orders for tablet PCs from Hewlett Packard. HP has reportedly ordered 400,000 to 450,000 TouchPad tablets per month, and will sometime in August launch a 7-inch tablet. Inventec will supply HP these two tablet PC models, according to a subcontractor cited by the Taiwan Economic Times.

HP is Inventec's largest buyer of notebook PCs, but has yet to confirm that Inventec is its largest contract manufacturer of tablet PCs. Inventec is aiming to supply smartphones, tablet PCs, electronic books, portable navigation devices, this year in order to enjoy a larger growth due to the shipments of new products.

HP, the world's largest PC maker, is only now entering the tablet PC arena with the HP TouchPad. Of course, we've expected that HP would release more than just one tablet, but August just seems too soon. If it really is coming just one month after the HP TouchPad is officially released, we would have expected HP to announce the product by now, and details would have leaked even before then. We'll have to watch this rumor closely: a 7-inch tablet is definitely in the works, but the timing just seems off.

The HP TouchPad is a 9.7-inch slate (1024 x 768 resolution), powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 processor, 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage, 1GB of RAM, HP's Beats audio, a micro-USB 2.0 port, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a front-mounted 1.3MP camera, as well as a light sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, and GPS (3G model only). It measures 242 x 190 x 13.7mm and weighs around 740g. The device is running a WebOS 3.0 with true multitasking, Flash 10.1, a paneled e-mail application, a pop-up notification system like Growl, Skype support, wireless printing, calendar and e-mail integration via HP Synergy, as well as compatibility with Amazon's Kindle ebook store, Google Docs, QuickOffice, and more.

Optional accessories (sold separately) for the HP TouchPad include the HP Touchstone Charging Dock, the HP TouchPad Wireless Keyboard, and the HP TouchPad Case. These are expected to be priced at $80, $70, and $50, respectively.

Preorders for the Wi-Fi version of the HP TouchPad in North America and Europe have already begun, and that the US release date is slated for July 1, 2011. The device will be available from US retailers, commercial resellers, and direct from HP with the option of either 16GB ($500.00) or 32GB ($600.00) of internal storage. HP's first webOS tablet will be available in the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany a few days later and in Canada in mid-July, with availability scheduled to follow later this year in Italy and Spain, as well as in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore.

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