Steve Ballmer to Demo Slate! Or Not!

By  |  Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 11:57 am

When the New York Times’ Ashlee Vance blogged that Steve Ballmer would demo a “novel” HP slate computer at his CES keynote tonight, people got worked up and wondered if it was the semi-mythical Courier prototype. Now sentiment seems to be running against the theory that Ballmer will show off anything extraordinary. ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley thinks it might be a relatively prosaic new HP Windows 7 touch-enabled machine. Kara Swisher also says it isn’t Courier.

Sounds reasonable to me–Courier feels like something that’s most likely not ready to be a product just yet.

It’s amazing how quickly the tech world has stopped calling tablets tablets and begun referring to them as slates–a term that wasn’t bandied about much until rumors broke that Apple’s device might be named iSlate. Or can anyone explain to me what the difference is between a tablet and a slate?

Either way, I plan to be at the Ballmer keynote tonight. I’ll let you know what we see, or don’t see…


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. heulenwolf Says:


  2. BeTaRe Says:

    A slate tablet means that it simply doesn’t have a keyboard. The term has been used for a while now to differentiate between a swivel tablet PC (like the HP TouchSmart) and a slate tablet (like the JooJoo or Carmangi Webstation).

  3. Chris Donahue Says:

    Ask the Steves (Ballmer and Jobs). In reality, there is no difference. It’s all marketing.

  4. Keith H Says:

    “Slate” sounds like a device a caveman would use.
    It’s the more primitive of the two.

  5. Sean Gallagher Says:

    No, they got it wrong about the Apple name change. It’s not “iSlate”. They meant it “is Late.”

  6. IcyFog Says:

    I agree with John Gruber’s assessment of Ballmer’s keynote speech.
    “I honestly think Microsoft renamed these things on the basis on a rumored name for Apple’s tablet, …”
    “Maybe Microsoft thinks they’re somehow sticking it to Apple by taking the “slate” name first, but everything tablet-related they announced on stage was boring non-news.”
    “I’m left with the impression of a company that’s flailing.”
    Flail away Microsoft, flail away.

  7. Gordo Says:

    perhaps it’s the connotation associated with the word ?
    “slates” are percieved to be thin and “tablets” are percieved as being thicker … reality is perception.

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