Slate PCs had a rather sizzly presence at CES, though most of them were either shown in prototype or not shown at all (as with Apple’s anticipated tablet or the Microsoft’s upcoming dual-screen Courier device).
Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer highlighted a number of Windows 7-powered “slates,” which seem to be aiming for the sweet spot between iPhone and a computer – a larger, more video-friendly screen than an iPhone with the computing power of a netbook. In terms of portability, the slates fall somewhere between the two, which means they could also serve as ebook readers. Though they’re much heavier than the fleet of ultra-lightweight e-readers on display at CES, they can run Kindle, Blio and Adobe e-reader software.
During his keynote address Ballmer gave a nice plug to the Blio eReader software developed by Ray Kurzweil that runs on Windows 7. Blio allows you to do things like take notes and delve several layers into a book, drilling down into illustrations and charts. It also offers text-to-speech, turning your ebook into an audio book.
Ballmer showcased slate units from HP, Archos and Pegatron, though not the Courier (which Microsoft will reportedly manufacture itself, expanding its position in the hardware space beyond Xbox and Zune).
The HP slate was the smallest of the three and described as “perfect for reading, surfing the Web and taking entertainment on-the-go.” The 8.5×11-inch screen unit from Taiwanese manufacturer Pegatron was the largest.
Dell, Lenovo and Fusion Garage also have slate PCs scheduled for release in 2010.