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HP Slate 500, its first Windows 7 tablet, is squarely aimed at suits

HP officially announces the Slate 500, its first attempt a Windows 7 touchscreen tablet, but it doesn't look as if it will end up as a direct competitor to the iPad.

HP's first attempt at a Windows 7 tablet, the HP Slate 500, is squarely aimed at the business world, and it doesn't quite look like the iPad competition we were looking for.

it will run on Windows 7 Professional and boasts an 8.9-inch LED-backlit multitouch display, 1.86GHz Atom Z540 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 64GB solid-state drive. Also on board are a combination stereo headphone-microphone jack, VGA front-facing webcam, a 3-megapixel camera on the back, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 802.11n wireless connectivity.

The Slate 500 has more hardware features than the iPad, but the limited touchscreen support built into Windows is a worry. We've already seen a short video of the tablet, and to be honest, we weren't that impressed. It took too long to boot up, and the browsing looked unresponsive and laggy. The iPad blazed a trail because it finally made the tablet experience fun, and this is a step backwards.

The Slate will be released in the US first and then "evaluated for further market expansion", which is corporate speak for "if it does well and makes money, we'll bring it to other countries". It's going to cost $799, which works out to about £510 -- slap-bang in iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab territory.

For stiffer competition to the iPad, we're already looking ahead to the prospect of a tablet running Palm's webOS 2.0 early next year. HP is making a jump into smart phones with the Palm Pre 2, and webOS is likely to be much better suited to tablets than Windows 7.

This is one of the first Windows 7 tablets we've seen. With Microsoft's attention on Windows Phone 7 though, you might forgive Redmond for not yet putting its full might behind trying to battle the iPad head-on.

But with time, who knows? Windows Phone 7 shows Microsoft is capable of creating a useable, fun and entertaining touchscreen experience. But it might not be wise to expect it in tablets this year, and probably not with the Slate 500.