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HP TouchPad 7-inch tablet mooted

It appears the HP TouchPad is getting a 7-inch little brother. Will a powerful 1.5GHz dual-core chip be enough to tempt people to webOS?

Tablets these days are just too big to swallow. That's what HP seems to be thinking as details of a new 7-inch TouchPad have turned up, with a possible launch later this month on the cards.

The US Federal Communications Commission recently approved the new mini slate (spotted by Engadget) and in doing so revealed its presence, like Paul Daniels uncovering a hidden cage of doves. The device is apparently equipped with a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, which should be pretty nippy in a tablet.

HP's original 9.7-inch TouchPad launched back in June, with hopes and dreams of taking the tablet market by storm with its webOS software and Flash-supporting browser. Sadly, it was rather let down by its rather chunky plastic shell and poor battery life, resulting in a distinctly average 2.5 stars in our review, and a tepid reception elsewhere.

The TouchPad hasn't been quite the storming success HP had hoped and has recently been given a significant price drop to try to attract more customers. Still, at least it's actually on sale, unlike the poor Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

We found the webOS operating system HP uses on its tablets to be a pleasant experience, but it lacks the fully featured app stores available on the iPad or on tablets running Android. App addicts are therefore unlikely to want to go for the TouchPad in its 9.7- or 7-inch iterations.

If the supposed launch date of the end of this month is accurate, it may be jostling for attention against the iPad 3. That may possibly be seeing an early September launch -- and could be in a smaller version too, although don't count on that.

There's no word on price yet, but a cheap, powerful and easy to use 7-inch tablet would certainly be a handy little gadget to keep in the back pocket -- just so long as you don't want to make regular use of apps.