HP webOS Tablet Rumors

There’s been a lot of rumors published recently regarding HP’s webOS event on February 9. It started when Engadget’s Nilay Patel published rendered images of the upcoming “Topaz” webOS tablet.

The 9-inch Topaz is said to be just one of two tablets announced at the event. There will also be a 7-inch tablet codenamed Opal. The rendered device on Engadget’s site looks quite nice. It’s similar in design to the iPhone 3GS, just blown up to 9-inches. There’s a front-facing camera, micro USB, and a three speaker arrangement that Nilay Patel speculates would allow for stereo audio in both portrait and landscape orientations.

But, that was just the beginning. The following day Thomas Ricker reported that Topaz and Opal would have inductive charging and that HP would be offering large amounts of cloud storage for the devices. This cloud storage would “dwarf” the local storage of the devices and could store apps and app states. This could allow users to seamlessly switch from tablet to handset without having to deliberately transfer data.

However, all of Engadget’s rumors were trumped by Dieter Bohn who managed to get his hands on¬†inductive charging details and the HP Topaz specifications.

The new tablet-compatible inductive charger will be named the “Touchstone v2” and may allow for wireless audio streaming over Bluetooth, wireless video streaming to VGA or HDMI out, and wireless gaming using your television as a display and the tablet as a controller. The Touchstone v2 sounds more like HP’s answer to the Apple TV than it does a wireless charging dock for tablets. The video gaming angle could be huge and I hope that HP has managed to secure content partners to go along with their wireless video streaming feature.

The target specifications that Dieter Bohn obtained are as follows:

  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor
  • 9.7-inch 1024×768 display
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • 8+ hours of battery life

The specifications are better than the iPad all around (aside from the battery life). Which makes it clear that HP has designed Topaz to compete with the iPad 2, not just to play catch-up with the current iPad. HP is really swinging for the fences with this announcement, and I hope they’re successful. It’s clear that HP knows where the industry is headed and their acquisition of Palm put them right where they needed to be development-wise. All that’s left is to bring devices to market and sell as many of them as possible. And, HP is ready to do just that.

HP CEO Leo Apotheker recently spoke with the BBC’s Tim Weber about the future of the company. Regarding product announcement timelines:

“HP will stop making announcements for stuff it doesn’t have. When HP makes announcements, it will be getting ready to ship,” he promises, saying the products launched on 9 February will be on sale just a few weeks later.

“A few weeks later” sounds perfect to me. That will put the release date before the RIM PlayBook and likely before the Motorola Xoom.