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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.
Also introduced at the event was a smaller version of the Palm Pre called the HP Veer, available this spring, and a new version of the Pre, called Pre 3, available this summer.