HP will be releasing its own would-be iPad killer on Friday. Called the HP Touchpad, it’s the first tablet running webOS 3, the tablet-sized operating system HP picked up from Palm last year. But what is the critical consensus? Is the HP Touchpad a viable competitor to the iPad?
Across the board, the answer is no, but most critics agree that six months from now, webOS 3 — if not the Touchpad itself — could be a viable threat to iPad. Right now, though, the HP Touchpad is unpolished and messy.
Here’s the only review of the HP Touchpad you need, glommed together from the Internet’s gadget blogging hivemind.
“In all, the TouchPad is about the same size as almost any other major name tablet except the iPad 2. It is as thick as the Xoom and the original iPad but the bulbous shape makes it feel a bit bigger. It isn’t very heavy – 1.6 pounds compared to 1.3 pounds for the iPad 2 and 1.6 for the Xoom – but it “feels” heavier and heftier…
[T]the patina of smudges this device collects over time it will eventually make your TouchPad look like the counter at a turnpike diner. I wouldn’t harp on this if it weren’t true: almost immediately the TouchPad, like many Pre devices, begins looking greasy.” – John Biggs, Crunchgear
“The screen is a 1024 x 768, 9.7-inch LCD with capacitive touch. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s pretty much the iPad display to a tee. Compared side-by-side with the iPad 2, I was impressed with the clarity and color tone on the TouchPad, though it’s worth noting that brightness was noticeably dimmer on the HP device. Viewing angles were also comparable between the two screens.
As noted, the TouchPad has a set of stereo speakers (only truly stereo when you hold the device in landscape mode with the home button on the right). The Beats-related sound is quite good when you’ve got the tablet in the right orientation. The stereo field was particularly noticeable with some of the music I listened to on the unit, even when the TouchPad was laying flat on a desk. It’s not going to thunderously rock anyone, but it’s some of the better audio output that I’ve heard on a tablet or phone.” – Joshua Topolsky, This Is My Next
“I found the TouchPad’s battery life was only 60% of that of the iPad 2. In my standard tablet battery test, where I set the screen brightness to 75%, keep the Wi-Fi connection active and play local videos back to back, the TouchPad lasted just 6 hours and 5 minutes, compared with 10 hours and 9 minutes for the iPad 2. H-P claims 9 hours of continuous video playback, but that’s with Wi-Fi turned off.” – Walt Mossberg, All Things D
“The WebOS is beautiful, too. It’s graphically coherent, elegant, fluid and satisfying. That, apparently, is the payoff when a single company designs both the hardware and the software. (Android gadgets, by contrast, are a mishmash of different versions and looks.)
The central conceits of WebOS are the same as on Palm’s phones. For example, when you press the Home button, all open apps shrink into half-size window “cards”; at this point, you can swipe with your finger to move among them, or swipe an app upward to close that app. It works beautifully, and conveys far more information than the iPad’s application switcher (which is just a row of icons).
H.P. says that the TouchPad offers real multitasking: all open apps are always running. On the iPad, by contrast, only certain apps (like music playback and GPS tracking) chug away in the background; everything else is just suspended until you return. Apple argues that true multitasking runs down the battery — and the battery-life stats prove it correct. Choose the compromise you like best.” – David Pogue, New York Times
“[There are] only 6,200 webOS apps overall, most written for phones and only 70% of which can run on the tablet, in a small, phone-size window that can’t be expanded. That compares with 425,000 total apps for the iPad and 200,000 for Android tablets, nearly all of which can run on tablets even if they aren’t optimized for the tablet.” – Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal
“One big problem with browsing is Flash. Yes, it’s nice to avoid non-functional gray or black pages every time you visit a restaurant website, but we encountered far too many instances where some site’s Flashy goodness brought the entire TouchPad to its knees.
The first day we had the TouchPad, we were browsing the Internet with a few native and downloaded apps open: Facebook, Adobe Reader, Quell, Evernote, and a couple of browser windows. We clicked a Flash video to play it, but the browser appeared not to respond. Figuring it just needed a few seconds, we went back to the home screen and opened a browser window to visit an IRC chatroom. Nothing in that browser window would respond, and then a notification popped up: “Memory critical too many cards!”
We went back to the video later and tried to play it, and it worked, but it was choppy; welcome to Flash on mobile devices.” – Casey Johnson, Ars Technica
“Shit just plain doesn’t work, far more often than it should. And there’s no more guaranteed way to make something feel like a train wreck in slow motion than to make it run like it’s a train wreck in slow motion. Apps can take foreeeeever to launch, even with just one or two cards open. (I once waited 20 seconds for screen settings to launch.) The gap between your touch and the TouchPad’s response is occasionally so wide you could fit all of Transformers 3 in between it. (God help you if you try to tap multiple things while the TouchPad’s deliberating its responses.)” – Matt Buchanan, Gizmodo
“I want him to win. Do I think it’s possible in the milieu in which we’re currently operating, with countless Android tablets flooding the market with product and a major player “flummoxing” all comers? I don’t know. I really don’t. I called the death of Palm as a standalone entity early when they announced the Pre and it was clear the mobile market couldn’t support an also-ran. I hope that HP’s might and Palm’s current experience will pull them through this renaissance and I think they’ve produced a strong tablet with a strong OS for a market that has drastically changed since they last failed.” – John Biggs, Crunchgear
“H-P stresses that webOS is a platform and that the TouchPad is just one iteration of it. The company plans to add the operating system to numerous devices, including laptops, and hopes that this scale will attract many more apps. And it pledges continuous updates to fix the current shortcomings. But, at least for now, I can’t recommend the TouchPad over the iPad 2.” – Walt Mossberg, All Things D
“The TouchPad is far from perfect — really, not even close right now. Still, there is DNA here that is amazing, and deserves to be given a second look. What HP has done in just a year with webOS is commendable, and if the fixes for some of these big, ugly bugs come as fast as the company is promising, the TouchPad could be the contender everyone over there thinks it is. Still, the bottom line here is that the stability and smoothness of the user experience is not up to par with the iPad or something like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, even if many of the underlying ideas are actually a lot better and more intuitive than what the competition offers. That, coupled with the minuscule number of quality apps available at launch make this a bit of a hard sell right now.” – Joshua Topolsky, This Is My Next
“If the Pre 3 were out today and if the TouchPad were $100 less we could maybe see giving it a go, if only to root for the underdog. But, as it is, you have to put your heart and two decades worth of Palm obsession ahead of any buying rationale. With such compelling alternatives readily available, that’s asking rather a lot.” – Tim Stevens, Engadget
“The HP TouchPad, if it were less expensive, could be an extremely strong, if slightly less polished, alternative to the iPad. But like other recently-released high-profile Android tablets, it’s determined to take on the champ. And just like those Android tablets, its hard to recommend over an iPad at the same price. But the competition does creep ever closer, and the TouchPad stands as a solid iPad competitor for those who, err, “think different.”" – Casey Johnson, Ars Technica
“I am so goddamned tired of the iPad. Which is why I was so excited for the TouchPad. And that’s why I feel so completely crushed right now… You’re stepping on my dreams, HP. The TouchPad is so close, closer than anything else, to being good. But it’s also very, very far from it. Look, give this thing six months. It could be amazing. If it’s not by then, well, I guess that says everything that needs to be said.” – Matt Buchanan, Gizmodo