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HP preps Android e-reader as WebOS tablet pushes to 2011

Aug 11, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is preparing a “Zeen” Android e-reader that interfaces with a new HP printer, says an industry report. Meanwhile, HP has postponed its WebOS-based “Hurricane” tablet to 1Q 2011, and the company — beleaguered by the recent resignation of CEO Mark Hurd — lost the lead designer of the WebOS-based Palm Pre, say reports.

HP was recently reported to be abandoning its Android tablet project in favor of its "Hurricane" tablet, which runs the Linux-based WebOS operating system acquired when it purchased Palm. (The company is also said to be preparing a similar "Slate" tablet (pictured) based on Windows.)

Yet, a HP tablet of a different kind may end up running Android after all. FCC images of an Android-based "Zeen" e-reader were recently posted by Engadget, along with subsequent tips about the device.

The Zeen is said to connect directly to HP's new Zeus printer without the need for an intervening computer. The Zeen features "capacitive touch buttons," an SD card slot, and video support, and presumably has a color screen. Meanwhile, "at least some prototypes have cameras with a special webcam app installed," says the publication.

The Zeen runs an HP skin on top of Android 2.1, and won't be shifted to WebOS, says Engadget. The device is said to have integrated access to the Barnes & Noble Nook bookstore, and like B&N's Nook e-reader, will offer a custom interface instead of a full Android installation.

The Zeen will sell both as a standalone unit at an undisclosed price, and as part of a $400 bundle with a new printer called the Zeus, says the publication. The Zeen is said to dock into the Zeus, offering a richer interface to printing functions. 

Over the last year, HP has released a number of web-connected printers running Linux, including the HP Photosmart Premium (pictured). The company has also said it plans to embed WebOS in its web-connected printers in place of its current versions of Linux.

WebOS tablet pushed to 1Q 2011

HP Personal Systems Group VP Todd Bradley told an all-hands employee meeting on Monday that the WebOS-based "Hurricane" tablet will now ship in the first quarter of 2011, says another story in Engadget. (An report in May had quoted an unnamed HP insider as saying the Hurricane would ship in the third quarter of this year.)

No other details were supplied except that Bradley was said to have used the "Hurricane" moniker instead of the recently HP-trademarked "PalmPad" name that some have speculated will be applied to the final Hurricane tablet.

Palm Pre designer exits in wake of CEO resignation

Peter Skillman, the lead designer on a team that created the Palm Pre smartphone (pictured at left), has left the company, says a story in our sister publication, eWEEK. 

After HP purchased smartphone-maker Palm in July, Skillman was the final remaining member of the Pre design team, which had been assembled by then-Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein. Other members of the team have also departed for various ports of call over the last few months, says the story.

Matias Duarte, who led development of the WebOS UI team, exited in June to join Google's Android team. Michael Abbott, who left Palm in April, is now Twitter's vice president of engineering, and Mike Bell, who had joined Palm from Apple, left HP last month to join Intel, says eWEEK.

In early July, shortly after Palm was acquired, HP began laying off Palm staff "in the double digits," according to reports. The only key remaining Palm Pre player is Rubinstein, a former Apple employee who contributed significantly to the Apple iPod and iMac, says the story.

The news of Skillman's departure comes just days after the sudden resignation of HP CEO Mark Hurd on Aug. 6, says eWEEK. HP has selected CFO Cathie Lesjack as interim CEO.

Hurd's exit followed findings of ethical misconduct, after an earlier inquiry into sexual harassment allegations made by a former consultant to HP. Ethical issues cited included Hurd's "pattern" of filing fuzzy expense reports that indicated an "intent to conceal" what was going on, says eWEEK.


The Engadget story on HP's upcoming Zeen Android e-reader may be found here.

The Engadget story on the HP Hurricane tablet may be found here, and an eWEEK follow-up with more background should be here.

The eWEEK story on Peter Skillman's departure from HP may be found here, and the earlier story on CEO Hurd's resignation should be here.

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