During HP’s webOS event yesterday in San Francisco, the computer giant finally unveiled its first tablet computer, the HP TouchPad, based on the webOS platform it acquired when it bought Palm last year. The HP TouchPad has the same screen size and weight as the iPad, but tries to outdo Apple’s successful tablet by providing a better connected experience to data and services in the cloud, along with true multitasking.
The Touchpad, due out this summer, has a 9.7-inch capacitive screen with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution and a lightning-fast 1.2 GHz dual-core processor. It comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat through Skype. You get the choice of either 16 or 32 GB of storage, and there are versions coming later with support for 3G and even 4G cellular networks. There are also a couple of internal stereo speakers with Beats Audio from Dr. Dre.
- Take a look at our HP TouchPad hands-on pictures and here's our HP TouchPad video
TouchPad - Synergy
The TouchPad tries to outdo Apple’s iPad in almost every way. It provides deep integration with cloud services such as Gmail, Facebook, Google Docs and Instant Messaging, and promises to connect all of it seamlessly through Synergy: “a solution that responds to how you look up information, access entertainment and keep connected on the go,” said HP’s Todd Bradley.
Furthermore, Synergy allows for webOS phones and TouchPad to work together so you can share a website by simply tapping the two together. You can also receive text messages and answer phone calls on your TouchPad.
“Synergy merges your information to the cloud and integrates it in a way that makes it easy to use. If your information changes in thecloud, it automatically changes on your device,” said Jon Rubinstein, previously of Palm and now Senior Vice President at HP.
HP TouchPad features a complete web browsing experience with support for Adobe Flash, and also supports what HP calls true multitasking. You navigate apps, called cards, by flipping through them on the screen and selecting by just touching them. You can stack cards and keep related activities together.
“webOS multitasking was not an afterthought -and it shows,” said HP’s Sachin Kansal.
At launch there will be a free version of Amazon’s excellent Kindle app available, and HP also showcased a flying game with rather impressive 3D graphics.
What if you want to print from your new TouchPad? Not a problem. The webOS tablet works with HP printers and lets you print pictures, webpages, emails and documents.
TouchPad: Touch to Share.
HP’s demo of the TouchPad was extremely impressive, highlighting a very streamlined email experience, excellent web browsing and easy-to-use multitasking and app switching. Notifications are non-intrusive and the integration with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter seems spot on. However, it’s not out until this summer and we still don’t know what this thing will actually cost.
To make matters worse, none of the HP reps would let us touch the TouchPad, or play with it, and they seemed rather on edge when asked in-depth questions. Despite it having a speedy dual-core processor, we spotted various instances where the system seemed to lag and stagger a little. We also observed a webpage that wouldn’t load and a crashing email app. Maybe there’s a reason why this thing isn’t available as of today.
That being said, the TouchPad and webOS does seem to be a very viable alternative to Apple’s iPad and the horde of upcoming tablets based on Android 3.0. Too bad we have to wait six months or so to find out for sure.
HP TouchPad review
HP TouchPad reviewT3
HP's webOS tablet is a cloud savvy and well priced multi-media marvel
HP has been conspicuously noticeable by its absence in the consumer tablet market. But after a year of sitting on its shiny new Palm-based mobile operating system, webOS, HP finally unveiled its rather exquisite HP TouchPad.
HP TouchPad: Build
Lke 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.
HP TouchPad: WebOS
Powering on is instant and take you in to webOS 3.0. There’s no home page as such, more a work space to put your apps and tasks cards and we were suitably impressed by the touted card stackings, making it a cinch to navigate. Bonus points for adding a nonchalant flick up gesture to bin anything we were working on. We also loved the Just Type feature, which is essentially the same as typing in to your search bar on Windows 7 start tab. That made finding what we needed effortless.
It is very slick and geared for multi-tasking without getting us lost in Escher-like mazes of apps and difficult to find tasks. Fortunately, the guts include 1GB of RAM and a bleeding edge dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2GHz processor, which is designed to handle flipping between apps without slowing down. 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.
What is it missing? Well there’s no video recording, video out to get HD playback on your telebox, no 3G yet, no rear camera and no lip-smacking touche éclat that created the Macolyte fanbois we know and love. However, HP has built a beautiful prosumer device and used its background in enterprise to bolster the TouchPad’s security business credentials. That means Microsoft Exchange and virtual private network (VPN) support amongst other business corporate friendly concessions. Oh yes, need we even mention the fact it natively plays Flash and supports a massive array of video and audio codecs?
It’s a shame we couldn’t try out HP’s new cloud-based media service, HP Play because it wasn’t live at the time of reviewing. That said, multi-media playback impressed and it has the chops to run very purdee graphics – assuming developers build games to take advantage.
HP will have to build up its app to if it wants to deliver an ecosystem to keep us coming back. At the moment, the App Catalog cupboard is bare though there are apps for Kindle, the Guardian, Sky, Facebook and…yes…Angry Birds in HD. The good news is that the TouchPad should be good enough to keep developers interested and the monthly tech mag app Pivot might keep punters coming back.
Where HP really excels, is in the social networking and contact management synergy – they are seamless. The TouchPad synchs contacts and social networks, fusing them together with beautifully laid out icons that make it a joy to use.
HP TouchPad: Screen
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
HP TouchPad: Battery
HP claimed about eight hours of battery life for light use and that’s not a grandiose guesstimate. We clock four and a half hours on with Wi-Fi on and some background apps running so it’s good enough for short haul lights. It did take a very long time to charge over the superb Touchstone wireless charger but it charges in portrait or landscape and is as cool as…
HP TouchPad: Verdict
HP's TouchPad is a brilliant first entry from HP in to the tablet market. It is slick, intuitive, powerful and looks stunning. It is also very well priced against the competition to give HP and edge. The apps is has are very limited for now but we're hoping it will be supported by developers and sells like hot cakes.
HP TouchPad launch date: Out now, link HP
HP TouchPad price: £399 (16GB) £479 (32GB)
The HP TouchPad tablet boasts a 9.7-inch capacitive screen with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, plus a whole host of other specs and features. T3 finds out more
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