HP mystery tablet spotted: Is it running Windows 8?

HP Mystery tablet

Hewlett Packard has been showing off an unannounced tablet in recent ads. The image above was uncovered by PhoneArena and has already been taken down by HP within the last 20 minutes. It used to be on this page.

The image shows what appears to be a touch tablet. We haven’t seen the screen, nor do we know the exact dimensions, but it appears to be a widescreen 10.1-inch tablet, similar in size to early Android tablets like the Acer A500. It also looks like it’s meant to be held in landscape (wide) orientation, which could mean it runs either Android or Windows 8, so no revelations there. The black plastic strip at the top probably means that this version of the tablet has a 3G or 4G connection. Apple has to put a strip like that on the top of 3G/4G iPads, which are aluminum encased — meaning this is likely covered in aluminum as well. We can make out what appear to be stereo speakers on the sides, a rear camera, and possibly a power button and audio jack up top, but we’d have to get a good look to know for sure. 

HP mystery tablet outdoors

The hospital image marks the second appearance of what some sites are dubbing the HP Slate 8 tablet. It first appeared at the very end of a HP promotional video on July 26. Seen above, a man is holding the tablet and using it outdoors. This could be another hint that it has 3G/4G connection capabilities, though he could be on public Wi-Fi as well.

This new tablet could be a prop or a stand-in for some future tablet — but for HP to be showing it so much, we are leaning toward it being close to a final design. It also likely runs Windows 8, since most hospital backends probably aren’t ready to handle anything but a Windows-based tablet. Android isn’t there yet. Maybe HP will release a version with both? We don’t know.

There are many questions. We don’t know if this is running on an Intel processor, which makes all the difference in Windows 8. If it’s running on Intel, users will have backward compatibility with applications and software for Windows Vista and 7. If it’s not running on Intel processors, then it’s running on an ARM processor, which is what all current phones and tablets run on. Microsoft has a version of Windows for ARM called Windows RT, which looks the same, but isn’t backward compatible. Confused yet?

In any case, this looks more promising than HP’s last tablet, the TouchPad, which ran Palm’s WebOS operating system and bombed quite spectacularly at retail. Though HP has stated that it plans to make WebOS open source, it doesn’t seem likely that it will launch a WebOS device yet. At this point, HP needs a hit tablet and probably isn’t looking to take chances.

Windows 8 launches in late October. Hopefully we’ll hear more about HP’s tablet plans soon.

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