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HP, Dell Tout New Tablets

PALO ALTO, Calif. ( TheStreet) - HP (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) are finally adding flesh to the bones of their tablet strategies in an attempt to claw share from Apple (DELL).

PC giant HP is aiming its new Slate 500, which is one of the first Windows 7 tablets, primarily at business users, while Dell is preparing to launch its own Windows 7 offering, the Inspiron Duo tablet/netbook hybrid. Both firms, however, are playing serious catch up to Apple's iPad.

Apple has sold around 7.5 million iPads since the tablet was launched in early April and analyst firm Piper Jaffray recently predicted that the tech giant could sell a massive 21 million iPads in 2011.

HP, however, is hoping that businesses already relying heavily on Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows operating system will look favorably on the Slate 500. Slightly smaller than Apple's iPad, the new tablet comes with an 8.9-inch touchscreen, and features a front VGA Webcam and 3-Megapixel camera on the back of the device.

Priced at $799, the Slate 500 comes with both handwriting recognition software, and a digital pen, highlighting HP's desire to sell the tablet in areas such as healthcare and retail. HP says that the device is available in the U.S. now.

Briefly brandished by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the CES show earlier this year, there has been plenty of speculation about HP's Slate technology, particularly after the company's $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm. The computer maker, however, has vowed that Windows and Palm's WebOS will co-exist peacefully within its tablet lineup, and promised that WebOS will feature in future Slate launches.

Dell is also ramping up its tablet strategy, albeit with relatively little fanfare. The Round Rock, Texas-based firm recently gave TheStreet a sneak preview of its Inspiron Duo, a tablet/netbook hybrid with a 10-inch swivel screen.

The Duo, which comes hot on the heels of Dell's 'Streak' mini-tablet, will run Windows 7, and is powered by a dual-core Intel (INTC) Atom processor. The device will be launched at the beginning of December, according to Dell.

Dell, however, is not aiming the Inspiron Duo at Apple's iPad, and says that the device is geared more towards netbook and notebook users.

Earlier this week, Steve Felice, the head of Dell's consumer business, told TheStreet that other tablets are also in the pipeline. "We will offer a variety of styles and types," he explained. "We will have classic 10-inch tablets, but also these other types of devices."

Dell shares dipped 2 cents, or 0.1% to $14.59 on Friday, despite a modest gain in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq rise 0.4%. HP shares rose 22 cents, or 0.52%, to $42.62.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com

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