HP announced the release of its HP Slate 2 tablet PC today. The offering throws the company's hat into the arena of the white hot tablet market while filling a niche need for its business-oriented customers.

The Slate 2 is a light-weight (1.5 pounds/680 grams) tablet which takes aim at the education, healthcare, government, and retail markets. The trait shared by all of these occupations is the need for a certain level of mobility, and being tied to a desk to use a computer or a POS (point of sale) system certainly hinders even the most able professional.

Featuring an 8.9-inch diagonal capacitive multitouch display that works with both touch and pen or stylus input, the Slate 2 is equipped with an Intel Z670 processor with mSATA SSM technology. This delivers fast boot times and a battery life rated at approximately six hours. The tablet also uses Swype keyboard technology, and offers 2GB of RAM and up to a 64GB SSD (solid state drive). The Slate 2 will also come with Windows 7 Professional pre-installed. Not to be overlooked, a 3MP outward-facing camera as well as an integrated VGA webcam allow for sharing of photos, videos, and even some conferencing ability.

Designed to be secure as well as functional, the Slate 2 offers a variety of security measures to keep the data of your business, clients, or patients from prying eyes. For starters, a TPM Embedded Security Chip protects your data by locking down anything from email to spreadsheets. The TPM chip is bound to a single platform and works independently of all other components on the platform, such as the processor, memory, and operating system. The system also has the ability to allow its users to delete all data remotely, which could prove useful for stolen or misplaced tablets. Add to this the HP Connection Manager, which monitors and controls all incoming and outgoing connections (Bluetooth, 3G internet, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet), and you've got the makings of a secure tablet.

As far as connectivity goes, the Slate 2 has one USB 2.0 slot as well as the standard stereo headphone/mic jack and an integrated microphone, as well as the power connector on the bottom which doubles as an output device for the Slate Cradle connector. The connector allows the Slate 2 to utilize additional accessories and business solutions, such as the HP Retail Mobile Point of Sale case which has a magnetic stripe reader for scanning credit cards and a barcode scanner that allows for easy inventory control.

The Slate 2 starts at USD $699 for the 32GB model, or USD $799 for the 64GB edition. The specs - other than the hard drive - are identical on both units.

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