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According to The Wall Street Journal, executives from HP intend to "tweak prices and features" soon on its upcoming Slate, which will offer a 3G data connection. The company had already intended to price their hardware below the starting $629 price for the 16GB 3G iPad, sources said.
The report also cited people familiar with Microsoft's dual-screen, touchscreen tablet, dubbed the Courier, in stating that the Redmond, Wash., software giant has a "secretive team" working on the unannounced device. Renders of the Courier leaked last September, showing a device with two color screens that folded together like a book.
"Although early designs leaked onto blogs last year, it's unclear whether the company will introduce the gadget," the report said.
The Journal said other manufacturers — including Dell, Acer and Sony — all have their eyes on Apple's impending iPad launch, set for the end of March, to decide how they might respond. The iPad has single handedly brought buzz to the concept of the tablet PC, which has been around for years but failed to generate significant sales for hardware makers.
"PC companies are eager for a piece of any tablet market that emerges," the report said. "With profit margins dwindling due to ongoing price wars, PC makers hope new touch-screen devices will sell for higher prices than mini-computers like netbooks, which have comparable components."
Weeks before the iPad was unveiled, Microsoft and HP partnered to tout the forthcoming HP Slate at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. The device has a multi-touch screen and has instant-on capabilities. It was demonstrated running Windows 7 and being used for tasks such as reading novels.