HP Touchpad – Initial Thoughts

The venerable HP launched their competitor to the iPad earlier in the summer. As with most things slated to be a killer of any Apple product, it was not to be, and it’s a real shame. 

With a price of $499 for the 16 gig and $599 for the 32 gig version, the Touchpad was close, but not enough to really pick up market share. This lead to a huge write off for HP and a sweet deal for those of us who had been on the fence about a tablet. With a firesale price of $99/$149, I couldn’t resist, and after a few weeks of patience following a cancelled order, CDW came through with the 16 gig version for me.

It arrived late last week, and immediately it felt far superior to any of the Android tabs I have tested, including the Xoom and several Galaxy tabs; that made it worth it, if nothing else. The build quality is good, and never having played with the Palm Pre, I now see why people are big fans of the WebOS.

The home screen is clean and simple, and much like the Vista screen scroll feature, going through cards (or apps) is a visually appealing way to see what’s going on. The keyboard doesn’t offer haptic feedback, but is fast and allows for multiple digit entry. Same goes for copy and paste – it’s functional and effective.

I was nervous to tweak the OS, but simple online guides had me overclocking and turning off nannies in no time. I turned off much of the logging, overclocked to 1.5ghz and made a number of other tweaks to vastly improve how it works.

If a Android were immediately available for the Touchpad, I think I’d stick with WebOS and what I have because it works effectively. The browser leaves a good amount to the imagination, but is functional. The inability to organize and rearrange favourites is a bit of a pain.

I haven’t fully got Skype up and running, but voice works fine, there just seem to be some issues with the video. Similarly, have other apps to try out, but Google docs and WordPress (on which this post was written), among others work great. The app ecosystem may not be so rich as Apple or Google, but if clean and simple – with a lack of bloat, is the goal, this is what you want.

All in all, this is a great tablet, and if nothing else, you can’t get a digital photo frame with this quality for the money. With an iPad case from the VZW store I’m good to go, I think I will invest in the touchstone charger and stand at some point. It doesn’t take well to charging from standard USB phone chargers. People say the ecosystem is dead, but I think this WebOS tab has some life left in it, numbers alone I think will make that happen. Plus, if a good Android tablet build comes out, it will be interesting to see how the tablet takes to it.

But for HP, I think this about sums it up, via the WSJ:
Let’s say you were given a year to kill Hewlett-Packard. Here’s how you do it: http://goo.gl/Kr002

Will add more as I get my hands dirtier.

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