Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer confirms HP tablet, er, “slate PC”

hp tablet 1Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer showed off a new tablet computer on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today. The device is by Hewlett Packard and powered by the Windows 7 operating system.

The New York Times previously reported he would announce a tablet at the show, perhaps to beat Apple’s expected tablet announcement later this month.

The demo was pretty short, and Ballmer didn’t offer many details. He actually had three computers that he called “slate PCs” on-stage, which he said are “almost as portable as a phone and as powerful as a PC running Windows 7.” The difference between a slate and a tablet seems to be mostly one of terminology. Ballmer didn’t offer product names, either. He just said one was manufactured by Pegatron, one by Archos, and the third by HP.

hp tablet 2Ballmer’s HP demo involved reading a book using Kindle software. Using the touchscreen, he swiped through the pages, then went onto Amazon, where he purchased and downloaded another e-book. He also started playing a video, although the conference room’s impressive AV system took over quickly.

The Times said the tablet would have multi-touch capabilities, but I didn’t see any evidence of that in the demo. Also as predicted, the HP slate did not resemble the Courier project whose photos were leaked last year.