Swype for Windows 7 Debuts in New HP Slate 2 Tablet PC

The Swype technology that makes it possible to type without lifting your finger from your Android smartphone or tablet screen has cracked the Windows barrier and is included in the new Windows 7 powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC.

A small, but significant logo sits at the bottom of the screen on the new Windows-powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC announced today: Swype. Yes, the same Swype utility that lets you type by sliding your finger across your Android smartphone or tablet screen without lifting it has come to Windows 7.

The 1.5-pound Windows 7-powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC (starts at $699) has an 8.9-inch capacitive multitouch display which supports both pen and finger input, a 1.5 GHz Intel Atom Z670 CPU and a preinstalled copy of Swype, which up until now had only been seen on Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian devices.

HP Slate 2 Tablet PC with optional HP Slate Bluetooth Keyboard and Case

The unit is meant for business and will not be marketed as a consumer device, said Kyle Thornton, category manager for HP Emerging Products at a recent HP press preview in New York. It’s meant for retail and other business uses where full access to Windows applications is needed. It has an SD Card slot for storage in addition to an internal solid state drive and a 3-megapixel digital camera on the rear and a front-facing VGA webcam.

According to HP, the battery should last up to six hours on a charge and the unit offers a number of built-in security features, including a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip. A dock adds two USB 2.0 ports and a single HDMI port to the unit.

Business-friendly options include the HP Retail Mobile Point of Sale Case, which has a magnetic stripe reader and barcode scanner and the $79 HP Slate Bluetooth Keyboard and Case (above), which folds out to support the slate as if it were a notebook and closes up to protect both the keyboard and the HP Slate 2 Tablet PC.

Note that while Swype comes preinstalled on many Android devices, it can also be added to Android devices that didn’t ship with it. Swype Beta is available for download at no charge but does not work on all Android devices, especially those with older versions of Android or have relatively low-resolution displays. (Don’t install Swype Beta on a unit which came with Swype. It won’t work.) Swype is not available as an separate installable Windows application for other Windows tablets.

The HP Slate 2 Tablet PC will ship later this month and will be available from the HP website.

Text and photos Copyright 2011 Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
Video courtesy of HP

$499 Too Much for an iPad 2? How about $3,750 for a DOS Tablet?

Would you pay $3,750 for a tablet computer? In 1991 lots of people did, and apparently were quite happy to do so.

It never ceases to amaze me how the power of the computer-buying dollar continues to rise at a breakneck pace despite the sour state of the  U.S. economy.

With each new year you get much more video muscle, far more data storage and much stronger and faster processors for the same number of dollars.

And that’s the rule whether we’re talking PCs, laptops, cell phones, tablets or any other computer-based gadget. And if you adjust for inflation, the numbers only get better.

With the introduction of the Apple iPad 2 this week at prices starting at $499, I began to wonder what kinds of tablets were available 20 years ago and what they would have cost. Then I stumbled upon the above photo in my computer history archives.

The GRiDPAD RC and GRiDPAD HD, manufactured by GRiD Systems, were announced in 1991 and were indeed standard-setters at the time. In fact the original 1989 GRiDPAD was developed by Jeff Hawkins, better known as the father of the Palm Pilot handheld computer. Instead of a  finger, the monochrome, backlit and transflective touch screens on the GRiDPADs were navigated with small pens wired to the units.

The 4.6-pound GRiDPAD HD listed for $3,750 and came with a 20-megabyte (That’s right, not gigabytes. And wipe that smile off your face!) hard disk and a RAM card slot. The hard-diskless GRiDPAD RC ($2,870) came with two RAM card slots which would allow you to install as much as 2MB of storage. Both came with 2MB of internal RAM for programs.

By comparison, Apple’s $499 Wi-Fi only iPad 2 comes with 16GB of RAM, weighs 1.33 pounds and has a 9.7-inch, 1,024-by-768-pixel color display. Of course the iPad 2 offers far more sophisticated features and software than the ancient GRiDPAD units, but all were standard-bearers for their time.

For example, even though Windows 3.0 was available when the GRiDPAD HD and RC were announced, they came with with the much more reliable, stable and less-memory-hungry DOS (Disk Operating System). Windows 3.1, widely regarded as the first truly reliable Windows version, didn’t appear until 1992.

Now before you think of what you could buy for $3,750 today, let’s adjust for inflation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Index Calculator, $3,750 in 1991 translates to $6,063.41 in 2011 while $2,870 in 1991 becomes $4,640.53 today. And just for the heck of it, note that today’s $499 translates into $308.61 in 1991 dollars.

See those dollars sitting innocently in your wallet? They’re getting stronger by the hour–at least in terms of gadget-purchasing power–even as you turn a couple loose for that cup of Starbuck’s coffee.

Any other good examples of 1991 pricing? Let’s hear about them.

Text Copyright 2011 Stadium Circle Features
Photos courtesy of GRiD Systems and Apple.