The HP TouchPad goes on sale Friday for $499.99 and up. The tablet will be the first device to run webOS 3.0 and it represents HP’s initial attempt to take on the Apple iPad and a growing mountain of Android tablets. It’s a bold new vision for HP, which spent $1.2 billion to acquire Palm. The goal is to create a software ecosystem that runs on tablets, phones, computers, printers, and other devices. But right now while the webOS operating system is pretty compelling in its own right, there aren’t nearly as many third party apps for the platform as for other mobile operating systems.
The initial reviews of the tablet are in, and aside from the lack of apps, reviewers seem underwhelmed by the tablet’s overall performance.
The HP TouchPad has a 9.7 inch, 1024 x 768 pixel display, a 1.2 GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1. The tablet has a 6300mAh battery, weighs about 1.6 pounds and measures 0.54 inches thick. The base model has 16GB of storage, while a 32GB model will also be available for $599.99.
Here’s a roundup of some of the initial reviews of the tablet:
- Laptop Magazine
The good: The screen is bright and has good viewing angles. The speakers are excellent. The UI feels more intuitive than Android for tablets. The bad: The glossy plastic on the back collects fingerprints. The tablet feels kind of heavy. The TouchPad feels slow and there aren’t many tablet-specific apps
The good: The tablet works really, really well with a Pre 3 phone. The tablet’s concave shape makes it comfortable to hold. The built-in apps are good and the software keyboard is large and does a reasonably good job with auto-correction. The bad: The tablet was slow to boot and got low scores in benchmarks, but performance is a bit more inconsistent in day to day tasks such as launching apps or surfing the web. Video quality on Skype looks awful.
- This is my next
The good: WebOS 3.0 has been tweaked to play well with tablets, with the email app and other programs taking on a multi-panel view. The bad: The OS still feels unpolished, and the tablet isn’t as responsive to touch as it should be.
The good: Web browsing is good, but Flash support is mediocre at the moment. The bad: There’s no Task manager or YouTube app. The QuickOffice and adobe Reader apps let you view documents but not edit them.
The good: WebOS 3.0 gets multitasking and notifications right. The bad: The TouchPad feels cheap and lacks apps.
- All Things D
The good: The user interface is good and wireless printing works well. The bad: The battery doesn’t last as long as the iPad’s. and the tablet feels bulky. It alos lacks some top tier apps such as Netflix. Walt Mossberg also encountered errors such as crashes in Angry Birds or missing info in the email app.
The good: The operating system feels like it was designed for tablets and the multitasking system is one of the best around. The bad: Loading music onto the tablet is cumbersome and overall performance is too slow. There’s way too much waiting around for something to happen after you tap the screen.
The good: It’s the best competition for the iPad to date with a good email app, a good web browser, and excellent interaction with a smartphone. The bad: It’s slow, heavy, and lacks multimedia chops.
- The New York Times
The good: You don’t have to press a button to see numbers on the keyboard. The docking station is nice. The consolidated email, contacts, and calendar views are handy. The bad: It feels like an immature copy of the iPad.
Engadget reports that software updates are in the works to improve overall performance. One complaint that many reviewer had was that it takes a few seconds for the screen to switch from portrait to landscape orientation and back. This may be improved in a future update.
Reviewers got anywhere from 7 to 8.5 hours of battery life from the tablet under fairly heavy use. Since most people probably won’t use it to surf the web or watch videos for 7 hours straight, it might be fair to say the tablet has an all-day battery, but the Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab appear to get a little more time from their batteries.
All told, the TouchPad seems to be a mixed bag. Much like the BlackBerry PlayBook it scores decent marks for originality in the software space — but that means there aren’t as many apps available for the platform. And like the BlackBerry PlayBook, HP is banking on customers wanting to pair the tablet with other hardware including smartphones to share contacts, calendar appointments and other information. There’s even a feature that lets you open a web page on the tablet’s browser by touching your Pre 3 smartphone to the tablet when the page is already pulled up on your phone.
But HP faces a chicken and egg problem. Until the company can convince millions of people to buy TouchPads HP will probably have a difficult time attracting third party developers to the platform. But without third party apps (and some slightly more robust first party software), it might be tough to convince customers to buy this tablet when they could get an iPad or Android tablet for the same price or lower.
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