Eight long years after it shipped its first Tablet PC-based slate PC, PC giant HP this past week released a new iPad competitor of sorts called the HP Slate. And get this—it's a Tablet PC-based slate PC.

HP is apparently so excited about the Slate PC that it forgot to issue a press release or blog post announcing its arrival. Indeed, the device doesn't even appear on its "Laptop, Tablet, and Netbooks PC" page in its online store, leading me to believe that the company's web team was too busy celebrating to set up a site so that you could find out more or even buy the device. A search for the term "Slate" on HP's website turns up only an old-school HP TouchSmart Tablet PC.

Put simply, HP seems to have gone out of its way to hide this previously hypetastic device. It's clear that the company wants only the very deserving (and very dedicated) to buy the thing, since you have to know it exists and know its exact name to find it on the company's site. (Hint: If you really do want to find the Slate PC, look here. Good luck finding it otherwise.)

Though it's almost as elusive as Sasquatch and just about as useful, the HP Slate does apparently exist. It costs $800, according to HP—a bit less than the most expensive iPad. It features an 8.9" multi-touch screen, a low-end Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, "up to" 64GB of solid state storage (it could come with less?), and runs Windows 7. It's all pretty unimpressive, really.

Except for one thing. In today's tech world, there are only two kinds of stories: those about Apple and its products, and those about companies foolish enough to try and compete with Apple and its products. The HP Slate, of course, falls into the latter category.

With that in mind, the HP device improves on the iPad in a few areas, or is at least different. It's a real PC, albeit a netbook-class PC. It has front and rear cameras, compared with the iPad's zero cameras. The HP Slate is aimed at "professionals who don't usually work at a traditional desk, yet need to stay productive in a secure, familiar Windows environment," whereas the iPad is aimed at "annoyingly trendy wannabes." The Slate PC runs Microsoft Office, whereas the iPad excels at finger painting and as an expensive mirror of both society and the device's owners.

The HP Slate is available for order now, and shipments are expected by mid-November.