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HP unveils tablet computer TouchPad

SAN FRANCISCO – Hewlett-Packard Co. unveiled its first tablet computer that uses smart phone pioneer Palm’s technology on Wednesday – a skinny black gadget that the companies believe will help them catch up with Apple Inc.’s immensely popular iPad.

Jon Rubinstein, head of HP’s Palm unit, showed off the TouchPad at a media event in San Francisco. It will run the same webOS operating software as Palm’s Pre and Pixi smart phones.

The TouchPad announcement adds one more tablet to a bevy of devices that have been revealed since Apple launched the iPad last April. Forrester Research estimates that 24 million tablets – mainly iPads – will be sold this year in the U.S.

Like the Pre, the TouchPad includes webOS’ multitasking capabilities and the ability to view open apps as “cards” that you can slide across the screen, tap to enlarge or flick to dismiss. You can also stack cards on top of each other to group related things. The device is compatible with HP’s wireless printers, and supports Flash video content (something the iPad does not do).

Associated Press

Expect food prices to increase this year

WASHINGTON – Americans should brace for higher food prices this year now that demand for corn has pushed U.S. supplies to their lowest point in 15 years.

Higher projected orders from the ethanol industry sent corn futures soaring Wednesday, as corn supplies became the latest commodity to plummet. Low levels of wheat, coffee, soybeans and other food staples have already sent prices surging on the global market.

The ethanol industry’s projected corn orders this year have risen 8 percent, to 13 billion bushels, after record-high production in December and January, the Agriculture Department said.

The price of corn affects most food products in supermarkets. It’s used to feed the cattle, hogs and chickens that fill the meat aisle. Turned into corn syrup, it sweetens most soft drinks.

Associated Press