Alternate Reality

Exclusive: Inside HP’s ‘iPad Killer’ Slate PC

An exclusive hands-on look at HP’s upcoming Windows tablet PC, which promises to suck slightly less than every other Windows tablet PC ever made. (We did say ‘slightly.’)

By (@tynanwrites)

March 9, 2010

The story you're about to read is not (entirely) true. It is, however, more accurate than most things on network television.

The tablet wars are officially underway.

In response to Steve Jobs’ surprise appearance at the Oscars (in a lovely strapless original by Halston) and the first Apple iPad commercials, HP has fired back with both barrels, releasing its own video ad and more details about its upcoming Slate PC, codenamed "Slate PC."

Phil McKinney, vice president and CTO of HP’s personal systems group, was kind enough to give us an exclusive hands-on look at a current prototype. Actually, we Shanghaied him as he was leaving his office and forced him to give us a demo in a men’s room at a nearby Denny’s.

This device will blow the iPad away, says McKinney. Though he declined to call the Slate an "iPad Killer," he did say it would stand uncomfortably close to the iPad in the locker room, put gum in its hair, and spread vicious rumors about it behind its back.

He also promises the Slate won’t suck nearly as much as every other Windows tablet ever made, which will form the basis of a new HP marketing campaign slated to appear next fall: Suck Different.

Here’s the video preview:

McKinney also promised the Slate will play that awful retro-80s dance mix every time you turn it on. No exceptions.

Here’s some of what will make the Slate an iPad killer stalker annoyer:

Microsoft support. As a Windows 7 machine, the Slate draws upon a rich legacy of Windows operating systems. In fact, the Slate will contain bits of code from every version of Windows ever made, including Vista, XP, ME, 98, 95, Win 3.1 and the HAL 9000. This ensures backward compatibility with apps like VisiCalc and WordStar 1.0.

xSODs. You’ll no longer be limited to the Blue Screen of Death. When the Slate locks up and becomes totally unresponsive (McKinney says this should never happen more than once a day if used for the recommended two hours), you’ll be able to choose from Lemony Yellow, Orange Orange, or Goofy Grape Screens of Death.

Flash support. Unlike the iPad, the Slate will support Adobe Flash from the get go, allowing users to enjoy the wonders of YouTube while leaving their devices wide open up to hacking exploits. However, McKinney says, Adobe will provide regular security updates every 6, 8, or possibly 12 months; the Slate’s auto-sensing update software ensures this will always happen when you’re in the middle of something important.

A robust Internet experience. "With this slate product, you’re getting a full Web browsing experience in the palm of your hand," promises McKinney. "No watered-down Internet, no sacrifices." It looks like HP is really serious. The first Slate devices will ship preloaded with videos from ChatRoulette, "Two Girls One Cup," and the entire 4Chan archives.

And in case you end up with something else in the palm of your hand, the device will ship with a latex sleeve to protect the touchscreen from damage caused by bodily fluids.

At this point the hostage negotiators arrived and we had to duck out through a bathroom window. But we have to say, overall we were mightily impressed. If we were Steve Jobs… well, we wouldn’t be wasting our time talking to you, now would we?

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