The HP Touchpad is a 9.7 inch tablet manufacturered by Hewlett Packard (HP).
With the official release of the Touchpad being the 17th July we are releasing our review of the product today. We have had our unit now for almost two weeks and have given it some solid testing.
HP have really entered the market late with this product, but it has been highlight anticipated as a likely alternative to iOS (Apple) and Android (Google).
When the hardware was announced for the Touchpad back in February it did not seem bad at all, matching the iPad for size and weight and it even had a front facing camera. However, since then things have moved on. Several android tablets have been released that are lighter, and all sport cameras on the front and back. The iPad 2 has been release with cameras of its own, and has been made a lot thinner and light. So now the Touchpad is one of the bulkiest units on the market.
All that being said, the Hardware is solid and works well. The screen is crisp and clear, but not to be used outside. People have complained about the back of the device attaching finger prints, but I do not look at the back of my device when using it.
On advantage of the Touchpad design is they it is compatible with many of the old iPad 1 accessories, and I have the Touchpad in a leather case I had for the original iPad now.
Set up of the Touchpad was fairly simple and did not take too long.
webOS itself as impresses on many levels. The multitasking is a joy and the notifications are great. However, so features like touch and share remain unavailable as we are not able to get hold of a Veer or Pre3 to test them with, and in the UK at least it looks like we may not even get a mobile carrier who will stock them.
Synergy, another of webOS big selling points generally worked well, however, in the early days of using webOS we had issues with setting up both Google and MobileMe accounts under Synergy, but this seem to have been ironed out behind the scenes. If is also surprising how several apps do not seem to use Synergy when it looks like they should.
Getting music, video and other files is done via connecting the Touchpad to a computer, as a USB device, so this is not a great experience compared with iPad (with iTunes built in etc). You can install HP Play onto your machine and this can help syncing your music and also stops the loss of album artwork if you transfers music direct to the Touchpad.
Generally webOS is snappy and quick, but then there are moments when it just slows down to a crawl. I have tested this multi-tasking and mono-tasking. The web is one of the biggest slow downs, but I have had it at other times. There does not seem to be any sign it will happen, but you get it a lot less mono-tasking.
Some of the built in Applications are great. The web browser is generally excellent, the email application works extremely well and contacts also works well merging contact details together is simple. The calender also work well, but seems to take a little while to switch between views.
Some of the built in Applications are poor. Memos (a post-it note app) feels almost beta quality, with break ups in the screen display and QuickOffice is nothing more than an Office Document viewer and next to useless (ours still hangs with a white screen when opening office files from email.)
Third party software vary greatly as well.
There are some excellent applications, these include:
- Angry Birds HD
- Azkend HD
- Spaz HD (which is still in Beta)
- SecuStore 2
- Sparkle HD
However, other applications feel unpolished and buggy. We have tested several titles that have just not work properly. Several applications are still listed as Beta.
Several major software titles are missing from the App Store, including Kindle which was one of the big selling points of the Touchpad.
You can use previous webOS titles on the Touchpad, but the emulator for these is poor and buggy. I have been using Evernote in this mode, but I would not recommend it for any other titles. Unlike the iPad being able to use iPhone application with easy, the Touchpad can make no such claim.
The Touchpad also claims a full web browser, with the ability to play Flash. This is mostly true, the web browser is good and can play flash (although I suggest no multi-tasking when using Flash). Flash is a clear drain on the resources, I would suggest watching the video and then closing the browser. You have the ability to switch off flash in the browser, and I would suggest that until there is something in Flash you wish to watch.
The browser is solid, but I have still found several sites where you do not get the full web experience, but the same could be said for all the other tablets on the market. I believe the Touchpad has one of the best at this time.
The HP App Catalog is good making it easy to download software, however, there is no touchpad filter at the moment. Touchpad versions are clearly shown on the listing. The pricing on the Catalog seems to be a little high at times, even with the increase of pricing on the Apple App Store, Touchpad titles are general the same price or more expensive. I have even seen what appears to be the same price in pounds as dollars. With a US release showing as $4.99, and when I look on the UK version, we are being asked to pay £4.99.
With an Over the air update coming in the next few weeks, we can hope for some improvements in the software, but how much will be fixed at this stage is not clear. However, things are looking hopeful.
On the upside:
- Excellent Multitasking.
- webOS impresses on lots of levels.
- Solid web browsing.
- Synergy works well for accounts and backup.
On the downside:
- Slowdown at times.
- Lack of vital apps (e-reader being one of them).
- Beta feel of some built in apps.
- D.O.A. for business at the moment (TapNote saved the day for me.)
Overall, the Touchpad is a solid release, it appears that HP just had to bite the bullet and ship the product. There are a few disappointments at the moment, but generally these can be fixed. The biggest weakness of the device at the moment are the lack of application, there are some things the device just cannot do until some application are released, we just hope that the loyal webOS developers will see these gaps and create apps to fill them soon. If you are purchasing a Touchpad as an E-Reader and for doing office documents on the move, you would be sadly disappointed. To be honest, I would hold off purchasing the Touchpad until the end of July to see what these OTA updates will do for the system. However, if you only plan to use for web and email then the Touchpad will not disappoint.
Price (at time of review): £399 [16GB] / £479 [32GB]
Link: HP Touchpad (HP)