Sunday, July 24, 2011

HP TouchPad: First Impressions

I had the opportunity to briefly use the HP TouchPad.  It is a nice looking tablet that utilizes HP's webOS, a true multitasking OS.  It works very similar to RIM's PlayBook although HP claims RIM took this concept from them.  In any case, one can have multiple apps open and running at the same time.  What I really like is the fact that one can see the open apps in a large preview screen.  In addition, the app still runs except for games which automatically pauses (at least the Glow Hockey game that was demoed).  So basically you can open a browser and wait for it to load then switch to your email to read a new one.  The browser will still load although you are checking your emails.  Then you can easily go back to the browser.  When you are done with an app, you can flick it away.  Again, works very much like the PlayBook.

The email client is has a unified inbox although it appears that you can separate your different email accounts.  The email and calendar client can sync with any account based on what the HP rep stated.  The status/notification bar is at the top of the screen instead of the bottom similar to the PlayBook.  On the other hand, Android's Honeycomb has the status/notification bar on the bottom.  The TouchPad has a "Just Type" search bar that one can type anything and launch whatever app or website from there.  It works similar to the Google search bar in Android.  Similar to RIM's PlayBook, the TouchPad works great if you use a phone that uses the same OS.  If you do not have a HP Pre, you lose some of the features like pulling up a website on your Pre phone and sharing it with the TouchPad.  Another great feature of the TouchPad is the ability to print from the tablet.  This is a native capability, no additional app needed.  As long as the printer is on the same network, you should be able to print to it.  I could not test this so I am taking the word of the HP rep.  In addition, one can print from anywhere with an Internet connection.  You do not need to be home to print to your printer.  As to a key factor of the TouchPad, I was not able to view the App Catalog as one needs a unique account that is tied to HP no different than Android or BlackBerry.

The screen had great viewing angles; however, there was a lag when switching from portrait to landscape and vice-versa.  Not sure if this issue was specific to the tablet that I was using.  The TouchPad comes with only a front-facing camera.  HP believes there is no real use for a rear camera.  I am indifferent on that point but a rear camera would be useful for scanning QR codes.  Also, no expansion slot so keep this in mind.

Anyhow, the TouchPad is decent tablet and the true multitasking ability is what really shines.  I have not spent enough time with the TouchPad to give it a true review.  Not seeing the quality of apps makes it difficult to judge as that would be a key factor.  I do not believe the TouchPad can compete against the Android tablets nor the iPad at least at the present price point.  However, comparing all these tablets against one another is well comparing apples to oranges to peaches.  They are all different and serve a different market.  As for the general consumer market, HP needs to lower its price as it is no match to compete against the similarly priced iPad or even the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.


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