Microsoft unveils HP Slate ahead of Apple tablet

Microsoft and HP have unveiled a new touch-screen tablet computer they hope will overshadow a similar device that Apple is expected to launch this month.

To add insult to injury Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer referred to the gadget as a 'slate.' Technology pundits think Apple will call their gadget 'iSlate' after filing for the trademark.

The 10inch HP tablet is a touch screen computer that runs Windows 7.

It doesn't have a physical keyboard and is geared towards customers who want one device for reading books, browsing the web and playing computer games.

Bing will be the default search engine while MSN will be set as the default home page.

'It's a beautiful little product,' Steve Ballmer told the audience at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

'It is almost as portable as a phone and as powerful as a PC.'

The tablet will transform into an interactive eReader using Blio reader software. This will allow embedded videos and create audio books using text-to-speech technology.

Mr Ballmer did not reveal any further details about the specifications, pricing or launch date, but said two other 'slate PCs' from Pegatron and Archos would run Microsoft software

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