Hands-On With The HP Slate 500, A Windows 7 Business Tablet

It’s been a long, hard road but it looks like some of the big boys are finally figuring out tablets. To wit: the new HP Slate 500, a business-only tablet designed for retail, hospitality, medicine and anything else that isn’t all about having fun. Let me explain.

The Slate 500 is a very nice tablet. In fact I’d say the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the 500 are close cousins in terms of style and usability. The iPad may be the gold standard, but someone needs to think of the legacy applications! That’s what the 500 is here for.

This thing runs Windows 7. It runs it just well enough to make it a compelling device for point-of service and other niche markets. It doesn’t run it well enough to, say, convince me to get rid of my laptop. I expect we’ll get a full review in within the next few weeks but rest assured you shouldn’t be holding your breath for this one – yet – unless you’re an IT shop. As Devin found out in his Nav9 review, Windows 7 is not a good tablet interface for the casual user.

The device uses an active digitizer and will cost $799 when it ships this year.

We talked to HP this week and there is no official word about a webOS tablet but they hinted broadly that it was on the way. Our recommendation? Check this out if you need to outfit 500 insurance salesmen with claims management systems. Check out the webOS version – or one of the other media-oriented tablets – if you want to watch a movie on the plane.

That said, look for a video intro shortly. It’s worth a look even if it’s not for the general consumer.