Hands on with the HP TouchPad

9 Jun 2011

HP previewed its upcoming webOS tablet – the HP TouchPad – boasting strong multitasking capabilities.

The TouchPad marks HP’s entry into the tablet market and what makes this stand out from other iPad competitors is its webOS 3.0 operating system, which it received after its acquisition of Palm.

HP previewed an early production model in Dublin yesterday, giving a sneak peak at what its tablet has to offer.

One of the biggest features is its multitasking capabilities. On the home screen, apps in use appear as “cards” on the screen, showing a smaller, rectangular display of the open app. By swiping from left to right, you can browse through apps and select which one you want to use next.

As the cards appear on the home screen, users can select the home button if they want to sift through other open apps again. You can close apps by pushing the apps up off the screen.

It’s a quick and convenient way of multitasking and is one of the tablet’s strongest assets.

In terms of hardware, the TouchPad runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-CPU 1.2-GHz processor. The tablet I got to use didn’t have a lot of heavy-duty apps on it, but it seemed speedy enough to use for multitasking and browsing. The weight of the tablet did feel a bit on the heavy side though, at 740g.

The TouchPad includes a headphone jack, a micro-USB port and internal stereo speakers with Beats Audio. There’s no rear-facing camera, but it does have a 1.3-megapixel front-facing webcam for video calling.

The model I tried was an early production unit and I didn’t get to test out its collaborative features with other webOS phones, such as link sharing between devices and answering calls for the phone on the TouchPad. So far, the UI seems quite sleek and intuitive.

The key to the HP TouchPad’s success will be the app ecosystem. If HP can attract developers and big brands to its OS, then it could catch up in the increasingly competitive tablet market.

That said, the iPad 2 still has a tight grip on the wallets of consumers, so I still think it will take some time before any competitor can dethrone it. However, the release of the finished TouchPad should give a better impression of how much of a dent it’ll make in the market.

According to HP, there’s no definitive release date for the TouchPad yet in Ireland, but HP hopes it will get a release soon. A Wi-Fi-only model will come first, with a Wi-Fi and 3G model to follow afterwards.

HP TouchPad