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Is the PalmPad a recycled HP Slate?

Fox News says a leaked diagram shows the WebOS tablet HP is about to introduce at CES. Oddly enough, it's the same diagram HP was using for the HP Slate 500, a Windows 7 device introduced in October.

Fox News says this is the upcoming PalmPad from HP. But it's the same diagram HP used to introduce its Slate 500 in October. (Click to enlarge.)
Fox News says this is the upcoming PalmPad from HP. But it's the same diagram HP used to introduce its Slate 500 in October. Fox News

A new report says that HP will show its WebOS tablet at CES next month, called the PalmPad.

HP has been talking about the PalmPad almost since the company bought Palm and its WebOS operating system in the spring, though the company has repeatedly said the device won't actually be shipped until the end of the first quarter.

But a Fox News story today has some very curious details. The Fox reporter's source forwarded him a diagram that is purported to be the forthcoming PalmPad. It has few labels except for a note about an optional PalmPad dock. The report says HP will introduce not one, but three slightly different models of the WebOS-based tablet, and that "they're collectively a spin-off of the never-released HP Slate."

That got us thinking, so we looked back at our own story about the HP Slate 500--which was announced by HP in late October with a price tag of $799. We realized that the PalmPad diagram in Fox's report is the same as HP's Slate 500 diagram in our earlier report, except for all the labels missing in the PalmPad diagram save for the dock, whose label has been changed from "Optional HP Slate 500 dock" to "Optional palmPad dock."

There are several possible conclusions here: Fox's source misrepresented the diagram and details--it's very odd that they would say the HP Slate was never released when the HP Slate 500 was introduced exactly two months ago. Or they mean a different HP Slate. Or perhaps HP recycles general diagrams for internal purposes. On the other hand, there is some possibility HP is repurposing the HP Slate hardware for the PalmPad running, according to Fox, WebOS 2.5.1.

But would HP actually use the same hardware running a full-blown desktop operating system meant to target business users, and instead slap the lightweight, mobile operating system WebOS on it and try to sell it to the same people who are considering an iPad or Galaxy Tab?

We've reached out to HP to see if someone over there can clear this up.