Can HP Find a Big Niche for Windows Tablets?

If Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows-based tablets aren’t doing so well, maybe it’s because they have been competing head-to-head when they should be doing something different. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) might help do just that.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is already entrenched as the tablet leader, with its iPads consistently taking the cake. Of course, the iPhone once was the uncontested leader, and it has since fallen to second place in the global market. But for now, the iPad is a heavy contender that won’t be easy for any company to get past.

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It’s not enough for Microsoft to be blocked just by the iPad, and that’s where Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) comes in. With a broad range of manufacturers developing Android-based tablets, particularly Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle, there is a massive wall of competitors, and Microsoft got into the tablet game a bit late to have an easy time pushing in to snatch up market share.

Microsoft felt the pressure against it when it launched its own tablets, the Surface RT and Surface Pro. Fortunately for Microsoft, other manufacturers are also making Windows tablets, and some are doing it in unique ways.

As many of the tablets on the market today fit between the 7-inch and 10-inch categories, it might not be the easiest area of the market to breach. That might be exactly why HP is developing a tablet with some big differences.

HP’s ENVY Rove 20 is set to come out sometime around July, and as the name suggests, it will feature a 20-inch display, potentially making it four times the size of Apple’s iPad. It might sound a bit bulky to be a tablet, but it could be argued that it’s actually a very portable all-in-one PC.

Obviously, at 20 inches, the device is big — nearly the size of Apple’s smaller iMac model. It has a large hinge that allows it to stand freely, giving it that all-in-one PC feeling. It’s hard to say just which it is, and it might be better say it’s one and the other at the same time, and that might just be the essence of what Windows 8 does — blend the line between tablets and other devices.

The device has many technical specifications that set it apart from other tablets, and it also has features that give it an edge over traditional all-in-one PCs. First off, it has a touchscreen and a battery– if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be much of a tablet at all.

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Now, most tablets have weaker hardware and smaller storage spaces than traditional computer, and that’s likely because of size limitations, but the Rove 20 doesn’t have those same limitations. The Rove is expected to come out with 1 terabyte of internal storage with an additional 8 gigabytes of solid state memory to help the device run extra fast. It will also feature the latest Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) processors — the reason the device won’t come out until July.

Naturally, a device that big will have one other big thing tacked on: the price tag. The price isn’t established yet, but HP has said it will likely be around $1,000 — slightly cheaper than Apple’s smaller iMac.

Because of its size, it’s not likely to compete directly with many of the other tablets on the market, but that could be for the best. It may find that there is a separate market for larger tablets that hasn’t been tapped and doesn’t have entrenched competitors. And that may be the place for Windows-based tablets to flourish.

Follow Mark on Twitter (@WallStMarkSheet)

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