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HP is hopping on the tablet bandwagon in a major way, last night unveiling the TouchPad -- a 9.7-inch tablet that runs a new operating system in the tablet arena. 

That OS is called webOS -- it was initially developed by Palm, a company HP acquired last year. We've already gone hands-on with the new tablet, and from what we can see the new OS is looking very slick indeed.

A shiny new operating system isn't the only cool thing about the TouchPad -- it has a dual-core processor that means it runs faster than that hedgehog chap who does all that running, and promises to play nice with loads of different video formats, making it a potential entertainment powerhouse. Like HP's laptops, it also has a Beats by Dr Dre soundsystem.

We were really impressed by the Web browser too, which lets you cruise around sites with incredible ease and plays Flash and HTML5 video -- something the iPad can't manage.

The TouchPad will be out in the summer in either 16 or 32GB flavours. A 3G version will follow after. There are currently only 8,000 apps in the App Catalog (the webOS app store) which pales in comparison to Apple's App Store or the Android Market's numbers, but we'll see this number increase over time.

The stage is almost set for the great tablet-clash of 2011 -- with RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook and a slew of tablets running the upcoming Android Honeycomb operating system on the horizon, there's now only one contender we're missing. The iPad 2.

If you want to check out the TouchPad in action, have a look at HP's official photos above, and watch the video of the announcement below. You can also check out the promo video on HP's site, which advises that you "get your life on one" which frankly doesn't mean anything at all.

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That's a 9.7-inch display.
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With a 1,024x768 pixel resolution.
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It's running the new Palm WebOS.
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From the back it's almost indistinguishable from the iPad (HP logo aside of course).
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It's not quite as thin as the iPad though.
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A lovely side-view shot for your delectation.
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And this is the logo if you're interested.
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