Are we supposed to laugh or cry?

Executives from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) have been ripping the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad a new USB port this week in published interviews. That's all well and good; you didn't expect them to fawn over a device in direct competition with their own tablet computers, did you?

That said, it would be kind of cool if the critiques had any connection to reality. It's one thing to riff on missing features or bad software, or any other actual deficiency that would pass a quick sniff test. But Dell marketing VP Andy Lark went way beyond that.

"An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you'll be at $1,500 or $1,600; that's double of what you're paying," Lark told the Australian edition of CIO Magazine. "That's not feasible." An Aussie dollar is worth about $1.03 today, in case you were thinking that exchange rates would stretch a decked-out iPad 2 from $829 to $1,500 or more. In all fairness, a 3G iPad 2 with 64GB of storage costs AU$949 in Australia, but you'd still need one heck of a luxury-class keyboard, mouse, and case combo to match Lark's figure. (The ball's in your court, Gucci.)

HP partnering SVP Stephen DeWitt's claims are not as obviously wrong, but they still test the elasticity of common sense. Speaking at HP's Americas Partner Conference earlier this week, he called Apple out for keeping its eyes on the almighty dollar in every transaction, instead of building partnerships designed to last. That's a well-known facet of Apple's corporate personality, and no big surprise.

But then DeWitt claimed to have a much stronger partnership network in place for the webOS environment -- a platform that, last time I checked, doesn't really exist yet. The newest webOS product available is still the Palm Pre 2, which must have started life as a pure Palm product, and the webOS-powered HP TouchPad won't show up until later this summer.

I suppose it's all part of the marketing game. Apple itself hasn't seen fit to respond to these outrageous claims in press releases or other public forums. For now, the iPad line remains a relatively unchallenged tablet king, with Samsung a distant second and pretty much everybody else still just planning to show up eventually. Harsh words don't mean a thing until you have a product to back them up.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool has written puts on Apple. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on Apple. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.