HP, the world's largest computer maker, unveiled the Slate 500 on Thursday. It costs $799 and, like the iPad, has a gesture-sensitive touchscreen and no keyboard. But unlike the iPad, the device is aimed squarely at business users.
Apple sold about 7.5 million iPads since April, when the device first went on sale. Competitors have been scrambling to catch up, and the first consumer tablets running Google Inc.'s Android system have just reached the market.
HP is expected jump in, too. After HP acquired Palm, executives from the company have said that future consumer products, such as phones and tablets, will run Palm's webOS software.
Consumers will have to wait, it seems.
The Slate 500 runs Windows 7, the same Microsoft Corp. operating system found on modern PCs. It has the kind of processor typically used to power smaller netbooks, but thanks to a graphics card by Broadcom Corp., the tablet should be powerful enough to play high-definition movies on its small 8.9-inch display. Like a PC, it also has a webcam, memory card slot, ports to plug in headphones and a USB port for accessories such as a keyboards.
Like the iPad, the Slate 500's screen allows users to make gestures using multiple fingers, such as pinching to zoom out of pages. Users can also write on the screen with a pen and convert their scribbles to text using handwriting-recognition software.
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer first teased the Slate 500 at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. At the time, it was unclear that it would be marketed to businesses.
Since January, few Windows 7 tablets have reached the market. None have garnered even a fraction of the attention paid to the iPad.
This could be because Windows 7 consumes power faster than Android or Apple's software, which run on lower-power chips. An executive from Taiwanese PC manufacturer MSI Computer said earlier this year that although the company intends to sell tablets running Windows 7, it will not do so until Intel releases new processors that promise to improve battery life.
The Slate 500 will be available in the U.S. before it goes on sale in other regions.
HP's stock rose 47 cents to close at $42.87.