Well, the cat's out of the bag. HP's poorly kept secret, the Topaz, and another tablet named the Opal have both been leaked to Engadget by reliable tipsters. We've got rendered pics and confirmation that the Opal will measure 180 x 144 x 13mm - comparable to the Galaxy Tab. The Topaz will be 241 x 190 x 13mm, about the same size as an iPad.
The Topaz is expected to launch around three months before the Opal (although no release date for either exists) and both will pack HP Beats software. Oh, and "tens of gigabytes" of cloud storage. Could HP be shaving costs (and undercutting the iPad in price) by shooting for a little physical storage and a ton of free cloud space?
So. That's what we know. Two webOS slates will be unveiled on February 9th at HP's big press event. Which means we'll probably see them launch somewhere in the middle of the hot mess of Android, BlackBerry and iOS tablets. If HP actually starts shipping on the 9th, they might be able to grab a few weeks in the spotlight before the Xoom-and-friends roll out.
The obvious worry is that webOS will prove just as disappointing this time out as it did back when the Pre launched as a purported "iPhone-killer". But now webOS has the money and marketing savvy of HP behind them. Consumers are definitely hungry for tablets- and webOS is a gorgeous platform for multitasking.
But Android is a pretty good multitasker too, and Honeycomb had half the journos at CES an inch away from browning their britches. HP has money and marketers, but so does Motorola and Toshiba and Acer and Asus and RIM every other big dog in this fight. All of them want redefine the industry. There were 7.44 million iPad buyers last year- how much more can the tablet market expand in 2011?
It's going to be crowded out there, and I just don't know if webOS will ever be loud enough to make itself known.