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Posted on February 14th, 2011 by Jonathan Bray

HP TouchPad review: first look

HP TouchPad - card view

After its announcement last week, this is the first opportunity we’ve had for a hands-on with HP’s WebOS-equipped TouchPad. If you haven’t had the chance to check out the news story covering the announcement, the core details are pretty straightforward.

The TouchPad is a 10in tablet, with a resolution of 1,024 x 768, running a tablet-optimised version of webOS, the mobile operating system HP inherited when it acquired Palm. Under the hood is a meaty dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm 8060 processor, there’s a 1.3-megapixel webcam on the front for making video calls with (but no camera on the rear), and HP will be selling the device in 16GB and 32GB versions. Initially only the Wi-Fi version will be available, but 3G-enabled versions will follow soon after.

So what is it like in the flesh? Well, it’s still four months away from being unleashed on the public, so there’s unsurprisingly the odd creak here and there, but otherwise it’s remarkably polished. There isn’t much to say about the front, other than it’s made from Corning’s scratch- and shatter-resistant Gorilla glass. All you see is the webcam and a small button in the centre of one of its short edges.

HP TouchPad - portrait view

The rear panel is subtly curved and finished in polished black plastic, and it already feels up to snuff – it feels solid in the hand and the curved edges and corners make it very comfortable to hold. A quick session with the on-screen keyboard revealed the capacitive touchscreen to be as sensitive as you might expect, and on first impression HP has made a great start on customising the smartphone-focused webOS apps and user interface.

HP TouchPad - rear view

Particularly impressive is the email app, which elegantly presents your messages in a number of different ways: full message view emails take up the whole screen; drag a small handle at the bottom-left corner of the screen and a navigation view is revealed in a panel to the left; drag another handle and all your email inboxes appear in yet another panel. It sounds as if the screen might become crowded, but it doesn’t – especially in landscape mode. Another neat touch is the notifications menu: you can use this to directly browse and manage  emails without having to launch the full email app.

As for third-party apps, HP says “well-written” ones should display just as well on the touchpad screen as they do on the company’s smartphones. However, it says the new Enyo development platform should allow developers to write once and have their apps work just as well across all webOS devices.

HP TouchPad - email app

As with previous webOS-based devices, the TouchPad handles multitasking beautifully. Hit the button on the edge of the screen and up pops the “card view”, representing the various applications running in the background; sweep left and right and the cards all scroll by, just as smoothly as they do on the Palm Pre 2.

Other notable features include “touch to share”, which uses HP’s next-generation Touchstone technology to transfer information between other webOS smartphones and the TouchPad, simply by resting the phone momentarily on the tablet’s edge. In demonstration we were shown a web page being sent from the TouchPad to the new Palm Pre3 (more on this beauty later on), which was a little underwhelming but HP promises there is “more to come”.

As with the BlackBerry PlayBook, it’s a positive first showing; it’s just a shame we have to wait until the summer for it.

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7 Responses to “ HP TouchPad review: first look ”

  1. TheRage Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Looks just like an iPhone 3G/S…

  2. David Wright Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Does it support Java?

    We are looking for a tablet to roll out later in the year.

    Number one feature is that it must support Java – which is limiting us to Windows 7 or Android at the moment.

  3. Andrew Anthony Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Any word on price?

  4. Paige Says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 3:53 am

    I have an I pad and I hate it it’s like an I pod… Make it better than an iPad and I will buy your product… Make sure it supports java and adobe reader! And also don’t make it so that it cost an arm and a leg if it’s like500bucks we can buy a nice laptop for that!

  5. Stiggy Says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 7:11 am

    @David Wright: All webOS devices have Java ME or Micro Edition installed. This is a specially designed Java that is optimized for all mobile platforms. Applications needing a specific version of Java (v6 for example) are not designed to run on the mobile variant, and may not run correctly or at all.

  6. Nicomo Says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Beautiful – worth the wait, lets hope its worth its weight in gold too when news of the pricing is released. Knowing HP they will release at a highly competitive price. Would be great if they released a bundle like a Pre with the tablet and a Veer too :)

  7. JulesLt Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 8:04 am

    WebOS has me far more excited than Android – it seems to be led by people interested in beating Apple at their own game.
    Android, on the other hand, wants to play a different game (hence the focus on openness, Flash support, multi-tasking, etc – notice how much Google speak to the IT community rather than users???)


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