HP has succumbed to pressure from the Web and given up a little more information about its HP Slate product that was showcased at Steve Ballmer's keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The device is pitched between a netbook and a smartphone, in a category that HP is calling "Minis". HP says that the only devices that currently fill this void are e-readers, but that they're too focused on reading to deliver the video, audio and other sources of content that users asked for. HP will be producing a range of slates with screens between 6 and 10-inches and a form factor around the size of a magazine.

HP adds that the product has been in the works for about 5 years in its Bristol research centre. The company says it could have released it 2 years ago, but it would have been prohibitively expensive - chip and touchscreen advances have enabled a device that HP reckons "can hit a size, weight, battery life and price point that will make this product a mainstream offering".

A release has been promised for this year, so we'd expect to see it in time for the Christmas season (in a big pile of other tablet PCs, we expect). For us, what will really matter - what will be crucial to get right - is the interface. Unmodified Windows is just about usable with a touchscreen and virtual keyboard, but to really stand out it'll be the software that's key. We're looking forward to hearing more.