Will HP's Tablet Take a Bite Out of Apple?

If Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) isn't going to deliver the tablet computer that everyone is expecting, leave it to Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) to crash the hype party.

HP introduced its DreamScreen line of flat Wi-Fi-enabled devices this morning.

They're slick and attractively priced -- at $249 for the 10-inch screen and $299 for the 13-inch model.

On the downside, they don't do as much as they should. The DreamScreen is essentially a glorified digital photo frame with multimedia goodies and very limited online connectivity. Users can stream photos, music, and video located elsewhere in their home networks or stored in the 2 gigabytes of internal capacity. They can also access Facebook, Pandora, and HP's own Snapfish. That's pretty much it, though.

What good is a portable Wi-Fi screen if it can't access Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) YouTube and other video-sharing sites? It's easy to see why HP would back Snapfish as a photo-sharing platform, but it leaves out the obvious Shutterfly (Nasdaq: SFLY  ) and Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) Flickr.

The DreamScreen also accesses HP SmartRadio, a new hub that offers free access to 10,000 Internet radio stations. Along with Pandora connectivity, this would be a threat to Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) if it weren't already retreating from the home market. Satellite radio's growth has come primarily from factory-installed car models lately.

In short, HP's new device does a few things well, but it doesn't replace the netbook the way that Apple's inevitable device will. The DreamScreen isn't an email retriever or a gateway to even primitive computing tasks.

It also doesn't offer a touchscreen or a keyboard, so even access to Facebook is unlikely to be as interactive an experience as some may expect.

HP is positioning this as a "fourth screen" for consumers, with computer monitors, televisions, and smartphones being the first three. It's a noble concept, but sadly incomplete. We need more, HP. We will be willing to pay more, too.

Fourth screen? I plead the fifth.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2009, at 3:15 PM, cycle63 wrote:

    Way to go Fool. You got your daily bash of SIRI in.

    I hope that one day soon you will be eating crow.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2009, at 3:19 PM, RAF22 wrote:

    You people just don't get it; Radio is all about content and Sirius XM content is far superior to anything else out there. Pandora, persons private play lists, etc. are all very nice for what they are but they will never come close to the unique variiety and great programming that is only available via Sirius XM. Competing devices such as HP, Blackberry, etc. may all offer alternative streams of internet music but they do not have access to the exclusive channels in great demand that are only found on Sirius XM. It is this singular fact that will propel SIRI to further substantial gains into the future as investors recognize the sustainability of Sirius XM's unique value and position.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2009, at 3:33 PM, jlanan wrote:

    As soon as Howard's done, Pandora is all I need.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2009, at 3:50 PM, alletw1967 wrote:

    Wow, so I will be able to get one of these and listen to all the NFL games (any teams broadcast), or tune into FOX News, or ESPN radio, or playboy (your favorite I'm sure), or any MLB game, or any type of music I want....

    Thats what I thought... See, no matter what type of wireless device you send out there, if it can access the internet, I can listen to my Sirius on it.

    You people just don't get it. And oh, by the way, my house system has a Sirius receiver too. People don't just listen to the radio in their car...

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2009, at 4:04 PM, boysmakegoodpets wrote:

    re: cycle63 and RAF22: i don't know anything about SIRI, but i don't see any bashing, nor even any opinion about it put forth in this article; it looks to me like the author just stated two simple, verifiable (or refutable) facts about the company and its market. if you have access to data that disproves either of those assertions, then please present it; otherwise you're just responding defensively to an affront you've conjured up in your own minds. which in turn only serves to make *me* think SIRI's backers must have something to be defensive about.

    i know, speaking of radio in general, that

    a) very few individuals listen to radio anymore when they're not either in their cars or in places of business that are foisting that radio upon them, and

    b) regardless of the foregoing (but only the more true for it), the market for radio is a saturable one. maybe Sirius, being already the best-known name in any kind of radio today, has begun to bump up against the boundaries of its possible reach? i can imagine this being true without it being any kind of insult to Sirius; in fact it's a problem that only the biggest player in the field would ever find itself facing.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2009, at 4:09 PM, jlanan wrote:

    Do you work in Sirius marketing or sales? Look I've been a fan of sirius for years. Truth is all that content you mention above can be had elsewhere. (Except for the NFL which most people get in their home city for free anyway.) You don't get that most people's needs can be met without having to pay for their subscription. For me Howards the only "exclusive" content worth paying for. BTW I've never tuned into the Playboy channel, but you obviously have, any good?

    Pandora for music is fantastic, however not sure how they make $$$ ....

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2009, at 6:04 PM, tightywhities wrote:

    if you call it a "tablet" that does not have functionality to browse the internet or check email, then obviously this sucks. but if you call it a digital photo frame (which it is) that has wifi, replaces your alarm clock with something that can play internet music and stream media from your PC, plus give you the day's weather outlook and quickly check your facebook wall... then i think this is a pretty cool gadget.

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