HP sneakily launches Slate 500 -

Talk about your quiet launches. HP's tablet computer, the HP Slate 500, is being released. And according to a first look at CNET it's no contender to Samsung, Dell or Apple's offerings in the consumer space. Instead it's a 9-inch Windows 7 slate aimed squarely at business.

It looks pretty much the same as the leaked pictures a while back. It has a touch UI which apparently is not specialised. There's no custom software being built in so it's just what comes standard with Windows 7. There is a stylus. 

Under the bonnet there's a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540, 2GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD hard drive and a Broadcom Crystal HD chip. The screen is 8.9 inches, with 1024x600 resolution and can handle HD video. There's a USB port and a docking connector, an SD card slot, a front facing VGA camera and a rear-facing 3MP camera.

It's retailing for a very hefty $799 in a bundle package, which ships with the docking stand, carry case and stylus as well. It may woo some business users but we're struggling to see the sense behind shipping a product with limited touch support.

One of the reasons Apple products are so well received is the intuitive UI which makes you feel like you're using some kind of futuristic gadget rather than a bizarrely shaped computer. It's unfair to cast judgement as we haven't had a hands-on, but Windows 7 isn't tablet ready - but with WebOS 2.0 in the pipeline perhaps HP will twig on soon and this will just be testing the water.

The video and brief review is available on CNET here