Hewlett-Packard unveiled a TouchPad Tablet computer as its entry in a booming market dominated by Apple's iPad.
HP senior vice-president Jon Rubinstein, who was part of the Apple team that brought the world the iPod, unveiled the TouchPad to applause in a pavilion on the San Francisco shoreline within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge.
"TouchPad is more than just a pretty face," Rubinstein said as he caressed one on stage. "The TouchPad is all about you; how you work, play, and connect with the things you value most."
TouchPad will be the first Tablet in a family of products based on a webOS software platform Palm began building from the ground up about five years ago.
HP last year bought Palm in a US$1.2bil (RM3.6bil) deal in what analysts believe was a move to get its hands on the platform that could make it a player in the fast-growing market for smartphones and Tablet computers.
"No one has come close to replicating our webOS experience," said Rubinstein, who was chief executive of Palm when it was acquired by HP.
TouchPad weighs about 0.7kg and has a 9.7in display - the same weight and screen size as the iPad.
The tablet is built with a Qualcomm processor that is "screaming fast," according to Rubinstein.
HP did not disclose what TouchPads would be priced at when they debut in Europe and the United States in the middle of this year.
TouchPad software is crafted for easy multi-tasking and supports Adobe Flash software commonly used in online video. The Tablet also features a camera for video calling.
The iPad does not run Flash or have a camera.
TouchPad launch partners will include digital magazine publishers such as Time and electronic book giant Amazon.
"We are making this a great platform for reading books by partnering with Amazon on Kindle software," Rubinstein said.
WebOS strengths included multitasking capabilities that allow for someone to pause while reading an e-book to take a video call, search out a webpage and print wirelessly to an HP printer.
HP plans to use its global resources to back the TouchPad along with an entire webOS "ecosystem" consisting of soon-to-be-released Veer and Pre 3 smartphones and a line of personal computers built on the platform.
HP said that webOS software in personal computers would complement, not replace, Windows operating systems made by longtime partner Microsoft
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