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HP TouchPad
It's not the pretty tablet, but HP's new design at least inserts it in the market

Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) faced an interesting dilemma when it purchased Palm, Inc.  The smartphone maker exclusively used its proprietary operating system, webOS, while HP came from a Windows background.  With the tablet market exploding, the question was which option to pick -- webOS or Windows 7.

Ultimately HP chose to try both.  The approach thus far hasn't worked out so great – the Windows 7-powered HP Slate has seen limited sales.  But HP is hoping its fortunes will change, now that its first webOS tablet has arrived.

I. Hardware

The HP TouchPad packs a Qualcomm Inc.'s (QCOM) Snapdragon APQ8060 clocked at 1.2GHz and powered by dual Scorpion cores (ARMv7).  This is the first of Qualcomm's third generation CPUs to be found in the wild.  In that regard, the chip represents the successor to second generation Qualcomm chips found in tablets like the Acer Inc. (TPE:2353Iconia.  The key difference is that the clock speed has been bumped and the Adreno GPU has been substantially improved.

The company's spec page doesn't mention memory, but reportedly the design will pack 1 GB of DDR2, on par with Android designs, and better than the iPad 2.  The battery though is pretty small -- a mere 6,300 mAh.  By contrast, the impending Galaxy Tab 10.1" from South Korean gadget maker Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (SEO:005930) packs a 7,000 mAh battery.

The one saving grace in terms of battery life is that the TouchPad has a smaller screen -- 9.7 inches (1024x768 pixels) versus the titular screens size of the Galaxy Tab 10.1" (1200x800 pixels).

The tablet lacks a rear camera, putting it a step behind the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1".  However, how much customers really use a tablet's rear camera is debatable.

II. Software

The tablet is powered by webOS 3.0 "Mansion".  The new OS offers some slick features.  For example you can bump your webOS smart phone into the tablet to transfer web pages or more -- a rather unique idea that none of the competition has implemented yet.
Overall the OS is quite polished with slick multi-tasking and solid core apps.  In that regard it's definitely on par with Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS and Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android Honeycomb OS.

App-wise the tablet comes up a bit short.  In December 2010, the webOS App Catalog hit 5,000 apps -- meanwhile Android has around 250,000 apps, and Apple has around 350,000 apps.  While it's easy to argue that the number of high quality apps in Android or iOS is far lower, remember the same also applies to webOS.  In other words, expect the hits to be there, but if you're constantly craving new games and connective experiences, you may find webOS's offerings a bit unsatisfying.

III. Availability

The TouchPad "launches" June 19 in the U.S., and ships by July 1 [press release].  Customers in the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany will receive their orders a few days later.  Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore, and Spain get the tablet "later this year."

Like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and iPad 2, the 16 GB version of the TouchPad retails for $499 USD, while the 32 GB retails for $599.  The company has not announced a 3G version of the tablet, but we can expect one to land sometime in the near future.  HP says AT&T, Inc (T) will be its likely carrier in the U.S.

IV. Outlook

Really, the TouchPad brings a couple unique features to the table, like tap-transfer.  But at the end of the day, it's hard to use these perks to justify a purchase given the shortcomings.  The iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1" both offer you more for you money -- more apps, a bigger screen, and likely better battery life.

And many will argue the best deal of all is ASUSTEK Computer Inc.'s (TPE:2357Eee Pad Transformer, which packs a 10.1" screen, dual core CPU, 16 GB of flash, a long battery life, and a rear camera, all for a mere $400 USD.

It's far too early to count Palm out, and honestly the TouchPad is pretty impressive in terms of hardware and software.  But at the end of the day, it likely will only see strong appeal among the limited numbers of webOS fans, as there's far better Android and iOS tablets on the market.

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Dear HP
By quiksilvr on 6/9/2011 1:00:05 PM , Rating: 3
If you do the following,

1) Actually try to market this.
2) Push app development.
3) Bring it down to $399.

You'll stand a chance.

RE: Dear HP
By nafhan on 6/9/2011 1:26:21 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah... really the only differentiator here is the OS. If iOS and Android were terrible, that might be enough. However, even if WebOS is slightly better in some areas, it's just not enough to compete against to equally good, well entrenched competitors.

RE: Dear HP
By MrFord on 6/9/2011 2:40:27 PM , Rating: 2
Just for the true multitasking integration, it is worth it.
They do need a bigger, better variety of apps on WebOS, but the fact that multitasking is at the core of it makes it a better OS for a tablet, where you have the screen estate to actually make the most of it.

RE: Dear HP
By Belard on 6/9/2011 5:33:56 PM , Rating: 2
Much of WebOS looks like iOS...

Selling a product at the same price as established competitors without significant improvement of features/quality means you have to sell it at a lower price.

I think even the Samsung Galaxy 10 is over-priced at $500... not when I can get a more versatile ASUS Transformer. Of course, nothing keeps Samsung from making a similar keyboard/netbook unit.

There is a KEYBOARD tray that'll hold an iPad1/2 like the transformer, but you can't transport it like one.

..... looks like RIM is falling off the radar rather quickly with their FAILED playbook issues.

RE: Dear HP
By TechIsGr8 on 6/10/2011 1:44:03 PM , Rating: 2
To many users, the idea of not being saddled with Apple's authoritarian and possibly draconian App Store and device rules are worth a competitor that offers a similar usability, with less restrictions on its use.

RE: Dear HP
By vision33r on 6/10/2011 10:55:25 PM , Rating: 2
That's a minority of the user base, mainly the geeks who prefers to root and run that way. Majority of the users who buys an iPad prefers Apple's managed solution.

The Google App Market is a huge flea market, there are no quality checks and apps have incompatibilities, crashes, poor quality, and malware infused apps.

Is that better than Apple's tighter quality controlled App Store?

The market already decided and Apple is the one with the #1 profit generating App Store.

RE: Dear HP
By The0ne on 6/10/2011 12:25:54 AM , Rating: 2
The pad market is young, in the infant stage. Anyone coming in an compete for market share.

RE: Dear HP
By nafhan on 6/10/2011 9:20:08 AM , Rating: 2
Definitely. I just don't think this specific tablet from HP will get much market share.

RE: Dear HP
By therealnickdanger on 6/9/2011 1:51:16 PM , Rating: 3
If you do the following,

1) Actually try to market this as an Android device .
2) Push Android app development.
3) Bring it down to $399.

You'll stand a chance.


I'm all for competition, but life is just so much easier with two choices...

Mac vs PC
Coke vs Pepsi
Android vs iOS
PS3 vs 360
Packers vs Vikings

RE: Dear HP
By jrrfoto77 on 6/9/2011 2:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with all except one:

Packers vs Vikings vs Bears

ok fixed :)

RE: Dear HP
By Belard on 6/9/11, Rating: -1
RE: Dear HP
By nstott on 6/10/2011 12:48:25 PM , Rating: 2
For Bel-tard:

Conservatives vs Communists
Capitalists vs National Socialists
FoxNews vs Obama Leg Humping Bendovers
Black Panthers vs KKK (the two opposing militant wings of the Democrats)

OK. Fixed.

RE: Dear HP
By XZerg on 6/9/2011 4:25:38 PM , Rating: 2
You will be surprised. HP can focus this towards corporate market where they provide backend/operational support and still make a huge mark-up with little effort.

Why else do you think the OEM computers that are slow, not easily upgradable and pricier still manage to make millions if not billions?

RE: Dear HP
By omnicronx on 6/9/2011 4:50:48 PM , Rating: 2
That does not seem to be their strategy with focus on distinguishing their consumer and business lines., WebOS will be for consumer tablets and Windows based Slates will be for enterprise/business use. (maybe sideloaded with WebOS at best)

This is a consumer device, and make no mistake this device will be going head to head against the iPad.

RE: Dear HP
By Rock Hydra on 6/25/2011 12:54:51 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you here. This doesn't look like a business phone, but it can be quite capable as such. Just won't ship with the Office software. =/ I think I am just going to stick with the pre3.

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