Microsoft’s Ballmer Shows Off HP Slate Tablet

hp proto tabletSteve Ballmer had a daunting task as the keynote speaker for 2010 CES: celebrate an industry that, like any other, suffered some serious losses in 2009. To that, he said, “the global middle class, which is really our market, will grow from one billion to four billion.” These assurances of economic recovery, or at least plateauing, aside, Ballmer spent much of his keynote emphasizing innovation as a bright spot in the industry over the past year.

After recapping Microsoft’s successes of 2009, taking his time touting Bing and Windows 7, Ballmer demoed some products and services we haven’t seen yet. The one meaty demonstration, at least in the mobile space, was an unreleased– unnamed, even– tablet from HP. This isn’t the first multitouch tablet, not even from HP. From afar, I was intrigued by the tablet’s design.

From my seat in the fourth row it appeared thin, metallic, with edge-to-edge glass.  The tablet looked light, modern, durable, and unlike anything we’ve seen from HP. The photo released by HP though (used here), suggests a boxier, thicker tablet after all. Whatever the final design, it’s not the point. I’m curious to see how HP’s tablet will differentiate itself from the countless others that are sure to be announced this year.

Although Ballmer provided no specs, not even a screen size, it appeared from my seat in the fourth row that the tablet is between 10 and 12 inches, similar to the slew of eReaders that have been announced this week. In fact, during his demo Ballmer demoed Kindle’s desktop app on it. He also began to play a video. He didn’t play it long enough for me to see how smooth the video playback was, but the image quality did look good on that bright, seamless display.

For now, no specs, price, ship date, or even a name. Until then, consider CES your kickoff for the year ahead in mobile tech.

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