updated 08:45 pm EST, Sat November 13, 2010
HP Slate 500 seeing six-week shipping delays
(Update: sales figures) HP's Slate 500 has seen an unexpected level of interest that has pushed new orders back into the new year, early buyers have noted this week. Existing customers at HardOCP and elsewhere have had orders pushed back anywhere from two weeks to "indefinitely." Those visiting the order page are now being told that the "extraordinary demand" has pushed the system back six weeks, or enough for them to reach into 2011.
The PC builder hasn't quantified the actual sales numbers, making it difficult to tell just how many it had produced. Numbers are likely to be well below those of the iPad, however, since HP relegated it to the enterprise category where devices usually sell in far fewer numbers than home-oriented devices. The entire 2010 Windows tablet PC market was estimated earlier this year to reach 1.25 million units where Apple's iPad managed similar results in less than two months.
Higher than anticipated demand would nonetheless be important news for both HP and Microsoft. The Windows developer has been promising Windows 7 rivals to the iPad for the end of the year, but many of these have either been delayed into 2011 or are relatively niche models like the ExoPC that weren't expected to reach a wide audience or have universal appeal. Windows 7 has had the advantage of a full desktop OS and better support for pen input for specialized apps like OneNote and Autodesk Sketchbook, but the higher prices, lower battery life, relatively sluggish performance and lack of finger touch optimizations have left many users gravitating towards the iPad without distinctive Windows alternatives.
The Slate 500 from our experience still encounters many existing Windows tablet limitations as the 1.6GHz Atom gives it about five hours of battery life and sometimes struggles to run Windows 7, but its relatively optimized design, dual cameras and support for true computer-like expansion are advantages over its Apple counterpart.
Update: According to reports, HP only built a limited production run of just 5,000 Slate 500s but was hit up for 9,000 orders. In order to appease customers, those who have been forced to wait for new slates to be built have been given a $100 refund due to the delay. Apple by contrast was selling about one million iPads per launch on its April release, which would have seen it outsell HP's expanded tablet orders in about seven hours.