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HP Slate more Netbook than iPad

Hewlett-Packard's Slate may be in for some harsh criticism when compared with Apple's iPad.

What is smaller than a mainstream laptop, uses an Intel Atom processor, and runs Windows? Both a Netbook and the upcoming HP Slate fit that definition, which will pose problems for the Slate when reviewers inevitably try to compare it with the iPad.

HP vice president Phil McKinney discusses the Slate in a promotional video. Hewlett-Packard

The notion of the Slate as a Netbook sans keyboard gained some ground Monday amid reports that the Slate does not compare favorably to an Apple iPad.

Though the final verdict on the HP Slate will have to wait until it is released to major review sites, its specifications already hint at Netbook-like performance, as this report last week shows. And one of the core specifications is the Intel Atom, a minimalist processor that runs a Windows operating environment only adequately, if not less-than-adequately, depending on what the user is doing.

The iPad delivers a satisfying experience because Apple carefully tailors the operating environment to the capabilities of its A4 processor--not to mention the fact that Apple maintains tight control over the overall experience. Netbooks, on the other hand, are more hit and miss because they are exposed to the full gamut of Windows applications (and processor-intensive apps like HD video) and must load a relatively cumbersome Windows operating system.

So, HP's Slate may run into some headwind when users try to do more than it is designed to handle. HP would be wise to make sure consumers--and reviewers--have realistic expectations.