HP goes for Windows 7 in $800 Slate tablet

After it seemingly shelved plans for a Windows-based tablet device, HP has now re-confirmed the Slate 500, a more functional device than the iPad aimed at a business consumer crowd.

Unlike the iPad and other tablets that have been popping up, HP’s Slate 500 will act more like a complete computer, with an 8.9-inch screen, a 1.86 GHz Intel Atom Z540 processor, and 2 GB of RAM.

It also comes with a stylus pen to make touch-screen input more precise. And with Windows 7 – not Windows Phone 7 – powering it, HP is obviously trying to bridge the gap between a normal computer and an entertainment tablet with basic functionality.

The Slate, which seemed to go on an indefinite hold after HP acquired Palm and its WebOS mobile operating system, has a USB port as well as front- and rear-facing cameras.

“It’s really like a full-function PC, it runs Windows, it will run your office applications, it just so happens to be in a slate form factor,” said HP marketing director Carol Hess-Nickels in a statement.

One thing we’re starting to learn about this new market for iPad competitors — so much for cheap tablets. Samsung is beginning to roll out its Android-based Galaxy S tablet, which will cost $600. The Slate will be priced at $799, which makes it more expensive than even a lot of “traditional” notebook computers.

HP is also working on a WebOS-based tablet that will be a more direct competitor to the iPad. The Slate 500 will sort of be in a market all by itself, but the question to be asked is whether or not consumers will be willing to pay the same price as a fully functional notebook for a 1.5-pound device that doesn’t have a keyboard and only contains one USB port?