Secret Details of HP's iPad-Killer Leaked

Is this what the new HP tablet could look like?

Is this what the new HP tablet could look like?

HP's not happy about the leaked images of its rumored iPad competitor. On Tuesday development teams had an emergency meeting to remind employees that leaking information on top secret projects is grounds for termination.

The meeting obviously wasn't effective -- because we know about it.

A lot has changed since I first reported that HP would release a reworked HP Slate with WebOS. (Read the full specs). A few more juicy details emerged about the forthcoming tablet expected to emerge at a February 9 press event -- last-minute changes beyond what we already know from the great reporting on Engadget.

According to a source at HP, the EduPad has been scrapped and students at select partner universities will now receive 4G/Wi-Fi versions of the 9-inch Pads internally called “Topaz.” It’s not clear why the EduPad was eliminated.

I’ve also received word that the 7-inch version of the prototype PalmPad has been spotted running on Sprint’s EVDO network.

The meeting also revealed that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the planned "PalmPad" name in October and also rejected the two-word version "Palm Pad." The names are too similar to Palm’s name, already a trademark. It's not clear if this is a final rejection or a temporary rejection. 

The new internal name for the device is "TouchPad." This is simply a place holder until the final names are chosen. I’ve been told that TouchPad won't be the final name, and the prototypes still have palmPad inscribed on them. I'm also hearing that proprietary cases have been seen with the palmPad name on them, which suggests HP is confident they'll get the name pushed through.

Other names being tossed around internally include TouchSlate, TouchCanvas, and DuoPad -- although my sources tell me that the DuoPad is a separate product at HP currently under development. Perhaps this will be the convertible netbook I’ve been hearing about?

The meetings also revealed that the specs leaked to Precentral were not the final build of the nameless devices. A few minor changes have been made to accommodate third-party accessories such as cases, but manufacturing of the final design has now officially begun in China.

The battery size has been reduced because of weight, which unfortunately resulted in decreased battery life from 12-14 hours down to 8. This sacrifice was made to keep the weight at 1.5 pounds, the same weight as the iPad and Motorola Xoom.

In the most recent prototypes there were two cameras, but now the rear camera appears to have been dropped from the final device. The specs leaked to Precentral show only one 1.3-megapixel camera on the front for video chatting.

The more rugged pad I’ve been hearing about will be designed for military use. So far there are no government contracts associated with it, but it is due out in 2012.

Here are some other fun details:

  - Unlimited cloud storage for a new music store (Meaning HP has a music store!?)
 - Tap-to-share for bump transferring between devices
 - Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon support by the end of the year
 - Touchstone v2 type charging
 - Flash support
 - WebOS Exhibition mode when docking (more on this below)
 - Call Transfer: the ability to transfer text messages and phone calls to the pads from a WebOS phone
 - Amazon Kindle software ready for WebOS shortly after launch
 - HP has applied for THX certification for simulated surround sound
 - Angry Birds has been spotted on the pad. ‘Nuff said!
 - WebOS pads are said to have around 6,000 phone apps ready at launch
 - At the developers event HP will announce a 1 million dollar app contest
 - Expect the pads to show up on TV shows in March. The marketing team is working with studios to include them in shows like "Law and Order" and "CSI"
 - Cloud Canvas is likely to be the new name for Exhibition Canvas, as it’s called in the SDK

I'm told the music store involves a partnership with Amazon, but that may just be for downloads and video streaming. From what I understand, HP will try (again) to build its own music store partnered with Omnifone, which will include downloads and streaming. 

It will be based on MusicStation, which HP is already testing overseas in the EU. The company already has an existing partnership with Omnifone that brings MusicStation Desktop to certain HP PCs. Move over iTunes!

The pads will not only have on-board storage for media and apps, but that they will also include “hundreds of GBs of cloud storage” that can be used for media, backup and even apps.

My sources have repeatedly said that a new version of the wire-free Touchstone charging will be built in, and the prototypes did not have a user-removable back. My thought is that the Touchstone charging point is not on the back, but may be on the bottom or side edges. This way you can have the pad stand-up for viewing and exhibition mode while charging. This layout is similar to the optional charging station for the Slate and now-discontinued EduPad.

I’m also hearing about a new round of WebOS-powered netbooks, based on HP’s well-reviewed Mini 5102 netbook, and another with a slider keyboard and tilt screen. We aren't likely to see this round at HP’s event in February because, according to my source, “it’s not ready for the public.” 

Lets hope the yet-to-be-named pads are!