HP shows off its slate computer while revealing a key disappointing detail (Windows)

Apple isn’t the only company with tablets. HP and Dell showed off its slate concepts at CES ’10, but their demo’s left us with so many questions. HP’s CTO Phil McKinney at least reveals a bit more about his company’s offering. But hopefully he’s out of the loop a bit and HP actually has more planned for the device. Otherwise, the HP Slate will be about as successful as the HP TouchSmart iMac clones.

Phil gives the background about the Slate’s development at HP. He explains that the company has been working on the unit for about five years and it started out as an ereadering device. But then as many things do, it evolved into what he’s showing off in the video.

But this slate is plagued by the same fundamental flaw as the vast majority of the current tablets: Windows. Phil states that the device will run plain-jane Windows 7. That’s a problem because even Windows 7 with its added touchscreen capabilities is not suited for extended tablet use without a stylus and Apple/Palm/RIM/HTC has proven to the world that we don’t need styluses. (stylii?)

Devin touched on this the other day when talking about 5-inch slates. I added a bit to his post, as well but let me further explain. Windows severally limits touchscreen computers appeal and I’m a Window’s guy. I’m typing on Windows 7 right now and have four Win7 notebooks within sight. I have also spent a good deal of time with tablet computers over the past few years and can tell you flat out that Windows does not work well on a smaller touchscreen (under 15-inches) meant to be accessed with a finger. The same goes for OS X and Linux.

The interface for those desktop operating systems are made for a precision pointing device and not your finger. It’s hard to double click, drag items, and generally navigate around the interface. How could you cmd+click in OS X on a tablet? It just doesn’t work well enough for general consumers.

That’s sort-of why Windows Mobile never really left the nerd market and Palm had great early success. Winmo required computer skills with layers and layers of OS until just recently when companies started to skin the GUI with a more friendly interface. Palm OS on the other hand was simple , but yet robust enough for most mobile computing tasks ten years ago.

The same concept apply to slate computers. Because of the way users will interact with them, the interface needs to work differently. Any tablet that simply ports over a mainstream OS will never become a breakaway success. Apple fanboys better pray that their almighty leader knows this too and loaded its iPad with something special.

The iSlate could cure childhood diabetes, but if OS X is its primary operating system and there haven’t been fundamental changes, it will end up on the shelf next to the Apple Hi-Fi. The same applies to the HP Slate and Dell Tablet. Well, not that they will end up next to the Apple Hi-Fi, but you know, somewhat fail.