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H-P Preps $549 iPad Challenger: Rumor

H-P's Slate is causing plenty of chatter amid the Apple iPad hype.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (


) -- Amid all the hype surrounding


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iPad launch

, more details are starting to emerge of rival


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own tablet, dubbed the Slate.

Technology Web site


, citing what "looks like an internal H-P presentation," reports that the Slate will cost $549 in its base 32-Gigabyte configuration. A 64-Gigabyte version will be available for $599, it added. Both devices will have a five-hour battery, two cameras and a dock connector for power, audio, and HDMI out, which is used for connecting devices to a TV.

HP Slate

H-P refused to confirm these details when contact by


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Tuesday. "We can't comment on rumors or speculation," explained a spokesman in an email, although the computer maker gave users another glimpse of the Slate technology this week.


31-second video that appeared on the H-P Web site

Monday describes the Slate as "Holistic Mobile Experience." The fast-paced video appears to show the tablet functioning as a video camera, a feature lacking on Apple's iPad, and also shows users video-conferencing, apparently via



"We know that you expect to be able to capture and share digital content on your mobile devices," explained H-P on its Web site. "And the HP slate device excels there."

Analysts are already starting to

draw comparisons between the iPad and the Slate

, notably H-P's decision to support


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Flash technology on its tablet, something that the iPad lacks.

Widely used for multimedia applications such as video, Flash has been touted as a crucial part of the Slate story in

another demo running on the H-P Web site


While H-P's Slate is unlikely to grab as many headlines as Apple's iPad, the computer maker can at least count on the support of software giant


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. The Slate will use the Windows 7 operating system, and

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

has already championed the device in his own inimitable fashion.

Ballmer gave users a sneak peek of the Slate during his keynote at trade show CES earlier this year. "It's almost as portable as a phone and as powerful as a PC running Windows 7," he explained. "It's perfect for reading, surfing the Web."

There has been speculation, however, that H-P may need to tweak the operating system for the Slate given that Windows 7 is primarily a desktop OS.

H-P, in its latest Slate video, also focuses on the device's messaging and digital media capabilities.

"Think about the last time you chatted with friends over Skype on your notebook. Or uploaded a picture from your mobile phone to Facebook or Flickr," said H-P on its Web site. "How about the last time you viewed images or video from an SD card or a USB device?"

Clearly, H-P is positioning the Slate against the iPad. Apple's own tablet pricing starts at $499 for a 16-Gigabyte Wi-Fi only version of the product, rising to $829 for a 64-Gigabyte iPad offering both Wi-Fi and 3G.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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