HP has a lot to prove with its 9.7"
TouchPad. Not only does the webOS-based device have to counter market-dominating
iPad 2 (and a host of Honeycomb-based
tablets), but it must also live up to HP's own expectations of being "better
than number one".
I. TouchPad Hardware
When it comes to specs, the TouchPad is no slouch. It packs
in a 1024x768 display (matching the iPad 2, but falling short of Honeycomb
tablets which typically feature a 1280x800 resolution display), 1.2GHz
dual-core Scorpion Snapdrapon processor, Adreno 220 GPU, and 1GB of system
memory. The TouchPad can be had in capacities of either 16GB ($499) or 32GB
While the internal specs clearly put the TouchPad toe-to-toe
with its present-day competition, the exterior design and dimension are more
akin to the first generation iPad. Both the iPad 2 and Galaxy
Tab 10.1 are around 0.34 inches thick; likewise, the iPad 2 weighs in a 1.3
pounds while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tips the scales at 1.26 pounds.
The TouchPad, however, is 0.54 inches thick and weighs in at
1.6 pounds. It's interesting to note that Samsung went back to the drawing
board to make its Galaxy Tab 10.1 design-competitive when the iPad 2 was
announced. HP either didn't have that luxury or just feels that the webOS
3.0 experience will win over customers more so than a sexy, svelte
II. What Reviewers
The embargo for the HP TouchPad lifted yesterday, so the
reviews naturally started creeping onto the web. The overall theme for the
reviews seems to be that this is a nice effort by HP, but that it has less
polish than existing tablets on the market. Couple that lack of polish with a dearth
of available apps, performance problems, and buggy behavior and we're left with
a tablet that may be a tough sell for many.
let's talk about the positives, starting with the battery life as reported by
Tim Stevens of Engadget:
Battery life according
to HP is 9 hours for continuous video playback, and in our test (WiFi on,
Bluetooth off, video looping) we came close to that: just over eight and a half
hours. That puts it slightly ahead of the Motorola Xoom but again behind the
Tab and iPad 2. Ultimately this means the tablet will comfortably give you a
day of serious use, or multiple days of more casual tapping.
Josh Topolsky of This is My Next
praised the overall webOS 3.0 experience which shouldn't be a surprise
considering that most people enjoy the OS on smaller devices like the Pre and
through the OS continues to be carried out through app cards and stacks of
cards, which both work beautifully to create a clutter-free multitasking
experience. As I said in my original Pre review, cards feel like “half
application switcher and half active widget,” and that hasn’t changed much on
the TouchPad. Stacks add an even better sense of an overview of your work, and
the whole thing flows more naturally than probably any other mobile OS on the
market. Palm nailed this the first time, and it still feels wonderful to use.
However, there are plenty of downsides that can dampen the
experience as Boy Genius Report
As gorgeous as the
software is on the TouchPad, I’m sad to say that performance leaves much to be
desired. With a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, this puppy should be a
screamin’ demon. Instead, I find that some apps are slow to launch and the device
bogs just as often as lesser webOS devices. Scrolling stutters often in a
number of applications, and the UI has a tendency to be a bit jerky at times.
criticism was even more biting, with Stevens concluding:
The shortage of apps
is a problem, no doubt, but that will change with time. What won't change is
the hardware, and there we're left a little disappointed. Holding this in one
hand and either an iPad 2 or a Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the other leaves you
wondering why you'd ever be compelled to buy the HP when you could have the
thinner, lighter alternative for the same money. Meanwhile, the performance
left us occasionally wanting and, well, what is there to say… With such
compelling alternatives readily available, that's asking rather a lot.
Topolsky was also overall critical of the device, but at
least was a bit optimistic about its future in the marketplace.
Still, the bottom line
here is that the stability and smoothness of the user experience is not up to
par with the iPad or something like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, even if many of the
underlying ideas are actually a lot better and more intuitive than what the
competition offers. That, coupled with the minuscule number of quality apps
available at launch make this a bit of a hard sell right now. If HP can
convince developers to get behind this product, and the company can laser focus
on the end-user experience, becoming the number two player in tablets isn’t as
crazy as it sounds. Really.
III. $50 Mail-in
For those of you that read all the reviews and still want to
purchase an HP TouchPad, there's some good news. HP is offering a $50
rebate on the device that would take the 16GB model down to $450 and the
32GB model down to $550. There is one rather large catch though -- you have to
show proof of ownership of a Palm Pre, Pre Plus, Pixi, or Pixi Plus to qualify
for the rebate.
The promotion runs through July 31.