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Report: HP 'Tweaking' Slate Price To Challenge Apple iPad

Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and other companies lay out their strategies for taking on Apple's latest, greatest gadget.

In a report published Thursday, The Wall Street Journal dives into the tablet PC plans being cooked up at ostensible Apple rivals like HP, Microsoft, Dell, Acer and Sony, an executive for the last company telling the Journal that "the iPad launch is a benchmark" for determining the viability of the tablet PC category.

Some Apple rivals appear to be moving faster than others on directly challenging the iPad. HP, for example, is already discussing ways to "tweak prices and features" on its upcoming touchscreen Slate tablet to be able to offer a 3G-enabled Slate at a lower price than the $629 Apple will charge for its own 3G-enabled iPad with 16GB of storage, according to the Journal.

Microsoft may be planning to challenge the iPad in a different way, with a tablet in development at its Alchemy Ventures incubation laboratory that has two screens. Code-named Courier, Microsoft's two-screen device hasn't been officially signed off on as a future product.

Other companies, like Sony and Acer, seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach. An Acer executive called mobile touch-screen PCs a "tweener category that we're all trying to figure out," according to the Journal. Better to let Apple try to grow a product category that currently amounts to less than 1 percent of all global PC sales, the wisdom goes, than dive in headfirst right now.

Finally, Dell is banking on a tablet device called the Mini 5 that's about half the size of Apple's 9.7-inch iPad -- a "tweener-to-the-tweeners," so to speak. Bigger than Apple's iPod Touch but smaller than the iPad and other like tablets, the five-inch Mini 5 will run Google's Android operating system.

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