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A Touch smaller

HP's upcoming TouchPad tablet hasn't even been released yet, and we hear tell that the PC giant is preparing another.

HP must be pretty confident about its upcoming tablet - and it might have good reason to be. Its WebOS software has been well reviewed, its iPad-aping 4:3, 9.7-inch screen will be familiar to buyers, and HP's brand name is strong, particularly in the US.

Nevertheless, Apple remains the only company to have had a true hit with a tablet, with the all-conquering iPad, so the TouchPad could yet prove a disappointment. So it's striking that HP are reportedly already planning to follow it up with a little brother - a seven-inch TouchPad designed to compete with smaller tablets like the BlackBerry PlayBook.

The Taiwan Economic News is reporting that HP have not only planned the device, but ordered 400,000 units per month to be manufactured ready for an August launch. That would be mere weeks after the original TouchPad, which is due out in July.

Is it true? We'd say it's possible - WebOS was originally designed for phones, so it wouldn't be that hard for HP to prepare it for a new size of tablet. But 400,000 units a month seems like an awful lot. If it is true, HP must be very confident the TouchPad is going to be the real commercial rival the iPad has been crying out for.

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