Is HP prepping an iPad killer?

Hewlett Packard (HP) is reportedly preparing to challenge Apple’s dominance of the tablet market with a next-gen PalmPad.

According to spec sheets obtained by FoxNews, the PalmPad is “slightly thinner” than the iPad, with rounded edges creating an almost Amazon Kindle feel.

The device – which is scheduled to be unveiled at CES 2011 – weighs a mere 1.25 lbs and features a USB 3.0 port, along with a “multi-switch” similar to the Palm Pre.

So, what operating system will the spin-off of the unreleased HP Slate run?

Well, HP is expected to debut three iterations of the PalmPad at CES, all loaded with a brand new build (2.5.1) of WebOS.

And fortunately, the consumer model has already been tapped to operate on Sprint’s fast 4G network.

It features some pretty sweet specs too, like a mini HDMI port, front-and rear-facing cameras (1.3 megapixel and 3 megapixel, respectively), both with LED flashes. 

Additional details, such as processor type and memory/storage are still unknown, but the screen sizes have been (tentatively) pegged at 8.9-9.7-inches.

So, what are the chances that HP can pull off the impossible and successfully challenge Apple’s wildly popular iPad?

Of course, it is impossible to know for certain, but I would estimate that the PalmPad will be incapable of wresting away a significant amount of market share from Apple in the short term.

And in the medium-to-long-term?

If HP is lucky, it may manage to position the PalmPad in third place behind Android-powered tablets, but still well ahead of Windows-based slates.

Yes, WebOS is powerful, and yes the PalmPad will probably boast an impressive UI.

But the iPad is already far, far ahead, while manufacturers have already begun queuing and clamoring for Android Honeycomb – which is specifically designed for a new generation of tablets. [[iPad]]