First announced early this year, HP's first webOS tablet, the TouchPad is here. We take a long, hard look at the retail version of TouchPad running shipping software. This is not a review unit, and it's the same experience you'd have if you brought one home today. Early reviewers didn't have the chance to experience some software like the updated webOS app catalog with the integrated Pivot magazine and the release version of the Kindle app. In fact, the Kindle app wasn't ready until mid-day yesterday, and HP's Roxio-powered movie service still isn't ready.
The problem of 10" tablets launching before their time isn't new, sadly. The first Android Honeycomb tablet, the Motorola Xoom, launched with a somewhat buggy 3.0 OS (now greatly improved in 3.1) and missing drivers for important features like the microSD card slot. The lovely looking Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 shipped minus Samsung's Media Hub movie service and TouchWiz software (both should be coming soon via a download). The HP TouchPad runs on one my favorite mobile operating systems, webOS developed by Palm, and we've been eagerly awaiting it's arrival for months, and months and... We figured HP-Palm were taking their time to get things right. As it turns out, the TouchPad is yet another promising tablet with plenty of rough edges.
There's lag, sometimes you see a screen redraw glitch, and the UI isn't always consistent. Our video review is a long 30 minutes in part because we didn't edit out load times and device pauses. It's a lovely OS and fun to use, just as is webOS on the Pre, but it feels like HP ran out of time porting and re-tuning it for the big screen. The TouchPad runs webOS 3 on a dual core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 220 graphics. It should fly. HP says a firmware update is coming that will improve things (we hope graphics acceleration for the OS is in this update). We don't demand that the TouchPad be the fastest tablet on the block, but we don't want lags and missed finger input to get in the way of using the tablet. Hurry, HP, hurry!
The WiFi-only tablet sells for $499 with 16 gigs of storage and 32 gigs will set you back $599. It has dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n with superb range and reception, Bluetooth, a quick GPS with Bing Maps, a front 1.3MP camera for Skype video calls and stereo speakers with Beats audio.
What do we like? - Superb notification system - Delightful email client - Impressive sound via speakers and headphones - Feels great in the hand, albeit a bit heavy - Competitive battery life - A video playback champ; 1080p high profile MPEG4 video is no problem
What don't we like? - Lag and stutters - UI sometimes inconsistent but we love webOS overall - No expansion - No rear camera - Unparalleled fingerprint magnet and it's hard to get the back clean - Very few apps available now, phone apps run in a small window. The platform is brand new, we'll give it some time to grow.
Here's our HP TouchPad video review. Full review to follow in a few days.