Apple iPad 2 vs HP Touchpad: The verdict
The iPad 2 continues to be the pick for many when looking for the best tablet on the market. Could the WebOS running HP Touchpad be a genuine challenger to the iPad 2? T3 takes a look
The HP Touchpad is the latest tablet on the scene sporting a iPad-like 9.7-inch screen and packing WebOS in the hope of giving the iPad 2 a run for its money. Is up to the task though? Is it good enough to challenge a prime candidate for T3's 2011 Tablet of the Year? We’ve pulled the two tablets together for a head-to-head.
Reading time? About 10 minutes. Deliberating time saved? Limitless. Read on...
Lifting the iPad 2 out of the box, you almost feel like you’re handling Grandma’s best china, such is the skinniness of the 8.8mm frame. Remarkably though, the tablet retains a very sturdy feel. It’s not the least bit fragile and there’s zero flexibility. It’s a piece of engineering that defies physics.
The weight has also dropped. At 601g (for the WiFi version) the tablet has shed 15 per cent of its body mass. Big deal, you say, but you will notice the difference. It’s still not Kindle-light though, and we still found the one-handed grip uncomfortable.
The design itself has evolved with the edges now rounded like an iPod Touch. While it looks better and is less bulky, the thinner edges actually make it more difficult to keep a steady hand. You also have to adopt an awkward reach-around approach to access the volume and screen switches.
HP Touchpad | HP Touchpad review
Like most of HP’s consumer touchy feely devices, it is glossy piano black and a haven for smudges. That said, we had no qualms with the added weight and dimensions because it’s so much more robust than an iPad.
Aside from the blister home button on the right, the only other buttons are a volume rocker, off button on the left and there’s a mini USB to plug in to the PC. There are two speaker grilles on the left and right for HP Beats Audio tech, which is a little underwhelming until you plug headphones in.
Apple iPad 2 vs HP Touchpad: Screen
While we were blown away by the original iPad’s 9.7-inch 1024x768 LED-backlit display, we were hoping this would bring a version of its iPhone 4 Retina Screen. Now it hasn’t, we’re a little disappointed.
While indoor performance is still great and colours are truly vivid for gaming, photos and videos, in the post-Retina Screen world, text still isn’t quite as crisp as we’d like and it’s still pretty useless in sunlight. It also attracts a lot of finger marks. Lets hope an improved screen comes on any iPad 3 next year.
HP Touchpad I HP Touchpad review
On paper, HP has stuck to the iPad 2’s blueprint rigidly, using the same quality 9.7-inch multitouch display with a 1024x768 resolution. HP hasn’t told us if the screen uses the same IPS tech inside but the colour palette is rich, details are razor-edge sharp and the viewing angle is wide. Add the toughened Gorilla glass and the TouchPad feels like it was made to survive.
The screen isn’t edge to edge and HP has done this to house a home button that lights up to orientate you when you’re switching between landscape and portrait modes – a great addition in dark environments
Apple iPad 2 vs HP Touchpad: Operating system
Beyond the design refresh, the iPad 2 comes packing the new iOS 4.3 operating system. You get the usual folders, multitasking, Airplay and customisable screens. iTunes Home Sharing, another addition, offers a seamless liberation of your entire music library over Wi-Fi, with one-touch.
The new OS also allows you to customise the side switch to either mute the device or lock the screen. It’s a handy bonus, but by no means earth shattering.
HP Touchpad | HP Touchpad review
It is very slick and geared for multi-tasking without getting us lost in Escher-like mazes of apps and difficult to find tasks. We tested this with HD video played back over Wi-Fi and several web pages open, plus a couple of apps running. Try as we might, we couldn’t hit lag and didn’t encounter any staccato playback because it’s just too responsive.
Where HP really excels, is in the social networking and contact management synergy – they are seamless. The HP TouchPad syncs contacts and social networks, fusing them together with beautifully laid out icons that make it a real joy to use.