There’s been a lot of hubbub about tablet computing, in general, with most of the criticism for Windows-based tablets stemming from the fact that Windows on a tablet results in an underpowered computing experience with short battery life. So on the flipside of that coin, we’ve got mobile-centric operating systems like Android and WebOS to compete with Apple’s iPad.
Proponents of the iPad point to the device’s long battery life and slick interface as reasons to overlook that it’s not running a full-blown operating system. And while I have no doubt that we’ll someday see an iPad running an actual, honest version of OS X, some non-iPad tablets (ahem… HP’s Slate) currently have the luxury of being able to run both Windows 7 and either Android or WebOS in a hybrid dual-boot environment.
Windows-based laptops and netbooks have been doing it for years. You’ve got a full Windows OS and then a quick-boot Linux-based OS for quickly checking e-mail, surfing the internet, and consuming media. There’s no reason this couldn’t be done on HP’s Slate.
HP already had Windows 7 up and running on the Slate. While it was relatively slow and clunky, there’s no doubt that a Slate running WebOS— Palm’s excellent, slick mobile operating system—could benefit from also having the option to boot into a full-blown Windows environment. You’d use the WebOS part of the tablet for most of your computing, especially media, apps, and light web surfing, but you’d have the option to boot into Windows—slow though it may be—if you needed to get some real work done in a pinch.
The same could be done with Android tablets. Acer sold the short-lived Android/XP Aspire One D250 netbook that dual-boot Android and Windows, and HP itself sells several products with quick boot Linux features (see the HP Mini 5102 I reviewed back in March).
Of course, you’d have to run a Windows-friendly platform like Intel’s Atom chipset versus an ARM-based solution but the Slate already has (had?) that in place. HP/Palm’s WebOS environment would theoretically allow for longer battery life and use far less resources than Windows, so users could have the best of both worlds. And assuming HP could keep the $550 starting price the same since it wouldn’t have to license WebOS, it could give those of us longing for something with a simple interface and long battery life alongside the ability to run the few Windows applications we still need/want to run from time to time a very viable tablet option at a compelling price point.
So they should make it: an HP Slate that dual-boots Windows and WebOS.