HP TouchPad 9.7in WebOS tablet
The true alternative to Android and Apple?
Hands On HP has learned from Apple. Not simply by mimicking - or judging it to be the correct size in any case - the iPad's 9.7in screen defined dimensions, but by avoiding the obvious operating system: Android.
Hardware being what it is, the only true way to differentiate your product is the user experience, and WebOS allows - as iOS does for Apple - HP, not another company, to define it. Google seems less keen on permitting UI overlays on Honeycomb tablets than it has on smartphones, so it's going to become ever harder for vendors to avoid offering 'me too' Android products.
HP's TouchPad: the design shows an iPad inspiration
Beyond the branding, there's not an awful lot of difference between, say, a Motorola Xoom, a Toshiba Thrive and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.
But back to the HP TouchPad, which I got to play with at a launch bash last night. I'll talk more about WebOS 3.0 shortly. First, the hardware.
In your hands, the TouchPad feels thicker and weightier than the original iPad let alone the iPad 2. The specs may say there's not much in it, but that's how it feels.
The gloss-black plastic casing looks good, but has a cheaper feel than the iPad's metal - a matt material might have been better.
The black hides the 3.5mm headphone port and Micro USB port on the base. Like the iPad, there's no memory card slot, or other connectors. It does have stereo speakers on the left side - which becomes the bottom when a video is played, automatically flipping the tablet into landscape orientation.
There's a volume rocker switch on the right side. The power key is on top. Facing you, above the portrait screen, is a 1.3Mp webcam, essentially the only hardware feature the TouchPad has that the original iPad lacked.
The screen is, as I say, an iPad-like 9.7in capacitive job with a 768 x 1024 resolution. HP gets my thumbs up for that - the 4:3 ratio is the ideal for tablets, I think. Yes, widescreen is good for video - no letterboxing - but it's a fail when you use the tablet in portrait orientation. The 4:3 ratio feels right in both modes.
In the subdued, smoky lighting - hence the lack of snaps - of HP's launch venue, the TouchPad's screen looked less crisp than Apple's. Alongside a pounding PA system, the speakers, backed by the HP-inevitable Beats Audio tech, could barely be heard, so I won't judge those qualities. But I can say the touchscreen felt less sensitive than those of other tablets, though some of the lag is surely down to the TouchPad's CPU and graphics.
No (unnecessary) camera on the back
The TouchPad may sport what Qualcomm calls a "dual CPU" chip, the 1.2GHz Snapdragon APQ8060, but it feels tardy alongside more recent, nippier models with dual-core chippery. My first-gen iPad feels smoother.
HP makes much of WebOS' multi-tasking, which puts simulataneously running apps' windows in a line across the screen. Swipe from one to the next, but when you get to the end of the line, you don't automatically go on to the first - the line isn't 'circular' - you have to swipe all the way back.
Next page: The WebOS experience
Was this a Touchpad review?
After reading this once, I went back and counted, and the reviewer mentions Apple, iPad, iPad2, iPad3, iOS and iOS5 30 times throughout the review... I can understand comparing it to an iPAd or and iPad2, but what's with plugging iOS 5 and the iPad3 when they haven't even been released yet?
I don't even own any WebOS gear, I just wanted a review that talked about WebOS.
> "like a product that's just behind the curve"
Somewhere in HP offices there's a whiteboard with 'Lessons learned from Palm Pre' written at the top and nothing else beneath it.
In addition, my 2c:
1. Late to market with a lacklustre (albeit anecdotal) processor is a no-no especially when the current crop such as the ipad will be moving on to the next iteration not too far from now.
2. No SD, why? It is such a simple way to make the storage more flexible at little extra cost. You only have to look at the ipad lineup to know that it's only a simpleton that pays £80 extra for more space when £40-50 would get a high-performance (sandisk extreme pro 45MB/s) SDHC card with the same space or just over £20 for a lesser model. Make the slot SDXC and it's a real winner.
Some times I wonder whether these companies really want to depose the ipad or if they think they can just saunter in, toss up any old shit, and walk away with the spoils. Apple are control-freaks but I still haven't been swayed by what the competition is offering.
The TouchPad isn't the mythical 'iPad killer' - no tablet yet available is.
Asus Transformer says hello.....
Unless it's a lot cheaper than the iPad this is destined to go the same way as the Pre. the iPad like it or not is hte market leader, this is no different to the android clones, it has to be a lot better or a lot cheaper (or both) to get market share.
The touching together is nice, but ties you to hardware, and theres no way I'd swap my Iphone for a Pre.
Maybe I'll wait till the clearance sales start on them.