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HP is officially the king of sending mixed signals. Despite meek sales and mixed impressions about Windows 7 tablets, the company has decided to refresh its year-old business offering, the Slate 500. Now called the Slate 2, it sheds the 1.87GHz Atom Z540 for the 1.5GHz Z670, which has a .5W higher thermal design power but carries an on-die graphics core and memory controller, so there should be power savings.
The Verge says it's supposed to withstand about six hours of usage, substantially better than the two hours claimed by its predecessor. The revamped slate also gets a snappier 64GB mSATA drive, a TPM chip for security, a new Bluetooth keyboard dock and a flat black cover. There doesn't appear to be many other hardware changes. Software-wise, the Slate 2 has received a Swype keyboard -- possibly a first for a Windows tablet.
To accompany those minor tweaks, HP has also cut the price by $100 to $699. We're not sure what that'll accomplish, but in conjunction with the power savings, perhaps it's the nudge corporate customers need to open their wallets this holiday season. HP supposedly has plans for Windows 8-based slates when the time comes and we assumed the company would lay low until it was ready to unveil its next major effort.
The PC maker has endured plenty of negative press in the last year following a string of confusing decisions. The company bought Palm for $1.2 billion last April with plans to utilize the ailing handset-maker's innovative mobile operating system for webOS-based smartphones, tablets, printers and more. Some of those projects came to fruition -- namely the 9.7-inch TouchPad -- but webOS' future is currently unknown.
In mid-August, the company announced it would cease existing webOS developments and begin liquidating its TouchPad tablets, saying it would continue exploring options to "optimize the value of webOS software." Alongside that news, the company revealed it would purchase software firm Autonomy Corp. for a massive $10.2 billion and that it was contemplating the possibility of selling its consumer PC business.
A month later, HP's board ousted former CEO Leo Apotheker and handed the reins to former eBay chief Meg Whitman, who has attempted to bring stability and focus to the company. Since Whitman's arrival, HP has denied that it would completely axe its webOS division -- though the TouchPad is still being flushed. She has also retracted plans to spin off HP's Personal Systems Group and vowed to minimize future acquisitions.
The HP TouchPad features a 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768 pixel, IPS display front and center, it has good color reproduction and viewing angles. It has a thick, nondescript bezel that surrounds the screen, within which is a home button and an embedded 1.3-megapixel camera. The home key is eerily reminiscent of the iPad's home button, though it is oblong in shape and has a glowing notification light built into it. Along the edge of the tablet are a power/sleep/unlock key, a volume rocker, a microphone, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a micro-USB charging/syncing port, and stereo "Beats" speakers.
The iPad 2 improves on the original in many ways, including a significantly faster dual-core CPU, improved graphics and a thinner footprint. The iPad 2 also manages to shave off 0.2 pounds for a total weight of 1.33 pounds on the Wi-Fi only model. Apple has included two cameras on the iPad 2 – a VGA-quality front facing lens for FaceTime and a rear-facing camera capable of recording 720p video.
The Motorola Xoom is powered by a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC. It also sports a 1280x800 display resolution, 32GB of onboard storage (expandable via SD), 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and given the increasing popularity of video calling, Motorola has included a 2-megapixel camera on the front while the rear is outfitted with a 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash. I/O includes a micro USB 2.0 port, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. Battery life is said to peak at about 10 hours of video playback. It supports both 3G and 4G.
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