HP Looking to Undercut iPad Pricing With 3G-Capable Slate Device

The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) on plans from other PC makers to tackle Apple's iPad head-on, and HP is looking at undercutting the iPad on pricing as a significant component to that strategy.

In the next few weeks, executives from Hewlett-Packard Co. will meet in the U.S. and Taiwan to tweak prices and features on an upcoming keyboardless computer dubbed the Slate, said two people familiar with the matter.

H-P has discussed selling a version of the Slate -- similar to the iPad in size and features, and including a cellular connection -- for a price below the $629 Apple charges for an equivalent iPad, one of these people said.

While HP's Slate was briefly demoed at CES in Las Vegas a few weeks before Apple announced the iPad, the company has refrained from offering details on the specs and pricing of the device as it waited for Apple to tip its hand so that it could make adjustments to respond competitively.

Dell, Acer, and Sony are reportedly all developing iPad competitors in one form or another, with Dell opting to pursue a smaller form factor with its initial foray into the market. Microsoft has also been rumored to be developing its own booklet device, codenamed "Courier".

There's still plenty of skepticism about whether PC companies have the right products to compete against the iPad. Many of the products risk being seen as "computers without keyboards," in part because many of them run an operating system, Microsoft's Windows 7, which is primarily aimed at traditional PC functions, said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey. In contrast, the iPad's software, which borrows heavily from the iPhone, is more tailored for consuming media on the go, he said.

Wi-Fi-only versions of Apple's iPad are set to launch in late March beginning at $499, with 3G-capable models following in April beginning at $629.

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