We haven't seen HP hype a tablet since last year's flirtation with Windows 7, but that could change after February 9, when the company has all but confirmed that it will introduce its first WebOS tablet.
HP Personal Systems Group Executive VP Todd Bradley balked when asked by CNBC's Mario Bartiromo whether HP will present a product that "blows people away enough to say, 'You know what? This is better than the iPad."
"You and I will talk about that on the 9th," Bradley responded.
Fair enough. But in the meantime, let's see if we can speculate on that question for ourselves. Here are several ways HP's WebOS tablet could have a shot against the iPad.
7-inches for the Win
Lately, I've become convinced that 7-inches is a great size for tablets, provided you're more of a reader and a gamer than a video watcher. But Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs doesn't agree. He calls these tablets "tweeners," incapable of providing neither a good smartphone experience nor a good tablet experience. I don't know what form factor HP will choose, but hopefully it's the one that can prove Jobs wrong.
The biggest cliché in business is also the name of WebOS' unified Web service. If you've got calendars, contacts and messages across a mess of services like Facebook, Google and Microsoft Exchange, Synergy puts them all in one place. This feature seems like a safe bet for a WebOS tablet, and the iPad doesn't have it.
Exhibition for Tablets
One of the new features in WebOS 2.0 was "Exhibition," which can automatically display photos or agendas when the Pre phone was connected to its Touchstone wireless charging dock. App developers can also tap this feature to display their own information from the dock. A feature like this seems destined for the big screen.
Ship the Thing Already
Let's just say HP introduced the tablet on February 9 and shipped it on the 10th. In all likelihood, it would become the first device of its kind since the iPad to ship with a true tablet operating system. Would that alone give HP a shot against Apple's tablet? Of course not, but it'll give HP a head start against the impending wave of competition.