HP is among the dozens of manufacturers planning to ship consumer tablets next year, and rumor has it that the company will introduce three models during CES 2011. Citing a "trusted source," Fox News reports that all three will run webOS 2.5.1 and describes them as a "spin-off" of the enterprise-focused Windows-based Slate 500, which launched in October after being delayed.

HP's upcoming slates feature rounded edges and are supposedly thinner and lighter than Apple's iPad (1.25 pounds versus 1.5 to 1.6 pounds). Features include Sprint 4G connectivity, mini-HDMI and USB 3.0 ports, as well as two cameras with LED flash (1.3MP in the front, 3MP in the back). At least one slate will have a 9.7-inch display that is "nearly identical" to the iPad's.

The company is also said to be developing a fourth tablet for academic use, but it won't be ready for CES. It sounds like the universities will be able to custom order this model, which sports an 8.9-inch screen and will give students to access the school's internal educational software. HP reportedly plans to ship the academic slate by fall 2011, while the others are due in March.

We all know HP has consumer tablets up its sleeve, but whether they'll appear at CES 2011 is another story. Engadget notes that the company hasn't emailed press invitations to an HP/Palm shindig at CES, and the company usually sends notifications earlier than mid-December – not to mention that HP has arranged a smaller floor presence this year than previous years.