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HP TouchPad review

Verdict

WebOS has genuine potential but here it feels unfinished, and the TouchPad hardware never quite lives up to HP’s lofty ambitions

Review Date: 12 Jul 2011

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £333 (£400 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

UPDATE 22/8/11 17:00

The TouchPad has been canned, and HP's impending firesale changes everything. For £89 (16GB) or £115 (32GB), we’d snap one up in a second, even in the knowledge that support from HP will be limited in the future. Ignore the lack of apps, just buy it for what it is: a large-screened web browser and media player with a superb interface for less than £100. Plus, there's always the possibility the community will find a way to put Android on it...

Original review

Following on from iOS, Android and BlackBerry OS, the crowded world of tablets gets yet another entry this month. WebOS has made the step up from smartphones, and HP sees it as its secret weapon; if it can run across handhelds, printers and even potentially laptops, it can attract the developers to compete with the big guns. It’s bold and optimistic, and first impressions suggest the HP TouchPad has enough about it to stand out.

HP TouchPad

It’s a glossy black tablet with a 9.7in screen, and we’re delighted to see HP follow Apple down the standard-aspect route – a 1,024 x 768 resolution feels more natural on a tablet than the widescreen approach of the Android set.

It’s an IPS panel, so although the maximum brightness is a fairly dim 290cd/m2, the low black point makes for a strong 2,900:1 contrast ratio. Colours are accurate and, although it’s too reflective, video and photos look great.

The webOS interface

So does the interface, and the core webOS 3 experience is an absolute joy. It uses the concept of “cards” for applications, with each instance – such as a single web browser tab – sitting in a stack with related cards. Tap a card to open it; tap and hold to move cards from pile to pile and create your own groupings; and to close a card, just fling it off the top of the screen. It’s effortless and intuitive, and makes the iOS task-switching bar feel like the most loathsome chore.

HP TouchPad

The familiar home button takes you straight to this card desktop, while a second press (or a tap of an icon) brings up the Launcher. It’s divided into four tabs: Applications, Downloads, Favourites and Settings, and elements can be dragged from tab to tab.

Each screen has its own context-sensitive options menu in the top-left, and the core settings and notifications menu – similar to Android’s – sits in the top-right at all times.

You’ll be making extensive use of the onscreen keyboard, and it’s not bad at all. Unlike the default Android and iOS keyboards, webOS has the familiar dual-function number row of a desktop keyboard: both number and symbol are visible on each key, and you press shift to switch emphasis. It works very well, and the whole thing is nicely spaced and responsive.

HP TouchPad

HP App Catalog

That will help when searching for apps in the HP App Catalog, as will HP’s in-house Pivot digital magazine. It pulls together a few interesting app selections into a nice little guide – like an upmarket version of Apple’s Staff Favourites.

Of the core tablet applications, the bespoke Facebook app stands out. While it takes a bit of getting used to, you’ll soon be flying through photos and friends with either its dynamic-column design or a more radical boxed layout.

HP TouchPad

Bing Maps, with its birds-eye isometric viewpoint, matches any rival mapping tool, while the mail app offers Facebook’s dynamic columns and a nice level of flexibility. Of course, HP was sure to get Angry Birds HD in there too.

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User comments

...Read article on his Acer W500 tablet that has Angry Birds, Kindle, pdf files, MS office... everything required.

It's a shame that HP didn't take this one chance to release a damn fine slice of kit but then again, you have things like the cycling fan problem of the ENvy 14 line and the weak new releases of the Elitebook range/screen. HP... If you want to compete with Apple (or Android) then you have to make the hardware SEXY.

By rhythm on 12 Jul 2011

P.s....

"1min 7secs to boot."

WHAT???

Acer W500 manages it in 32 seconds and that's full fat (tweaked) windows 7

By rhythm on 12 Jul 2011

Where do we go from here?

WIll be interesting to see what HP do to continue development. They have the corporate footprint to potentially shift volumes (US DoD for example). They need to catch up quickly, enhance the strengths and fix the weaknesses - but in my opinion, they have not got long.

By Dannyt on 13 Jul 2011

Hope springs

Very tempted by this- esp. combined with their smartphone. Whether it'll fend off the hoards of iZombies is something else altogether...

By Rhidney on 14 Jul 2011

They need to fix the boot time, hopefully it's only with the HP hardware, looking forward to other hardware companies to develop better hardware for WebOS such as HTC or Samsung.

The more choice the better for everybody.

Would love to see WebOS and pre3 in a bundle.

Goodluck to them

By nicomo on 14 Jul 2011

iPhone...

My iPhone takes around 50 seconds to boot, before I get the pin entry screen...

By big_D on 15 Jul 2011

@Rhidney Well there's your answer

HP bailed. Built a crappy product, the public voted with their wallets and went with a properly thought out and engineered product instead, and Touchpads are now selling for $99.
Hope you didn't pay full wack for yours.... Snigger.

Signed
An iZombie

By Throbinevans on 20 Aug 2011

6 stars

That would be 6 stars for value for money then? :-)

By JohnHo1 on 22 Aug 2011

your be unlikely to get hold of a touchpad from a retail store. due to the fact that the staff will be getting them first making sure the public cant buy them unless its from ebay at a stupid price

By zte1980 on 22 Aug 2011

Play.Com have these in stock but listed at full price, Amazon too. Not quite brave enough to buy one and hope to get charged the cheap price though...

By ianreid99 on 23 Aug 2011

Has anyone found a place where you can buy them for this price???

By GlidemanUK on 23 Aug 2011

Why would anyone want to downgrad to android? Other than the fact it is currently not a very good OS in its tablet form, it has even fewer tablet ready apps than WEBOS!!

By tigertrader on 23 Aug 2011

Remeber...

I wonder if people can cast their minds back a few years to the unfortunate release of the x-box (original brick). It went through exactly the same problems as this, right up to the point MS contemplated dropping it. Slashed prices, 'dodgy' software and for some the hardware styling was something to be desired. MS knew this, whilst trying to compete with a grounded console of PS it would need to get in the market by any means necessary. In their case at the time, it was under price every other competitor on the market. I am not saying HP will or won't, but if you had a product that sold over 100k of units in a day, for something that was deemed 'dead' and the only reason it sold so little was for the reason there wasn't enough to supply the real demand... The other thing is, how much of a head start has apple or even android had? And yet people tend to forget that even apple had teething problems with the first ipad, granted i expected HP to have sorted the glaring errors before any release.

By Instrumentoffate on 23 Aug 2011

Why not

I just got one for the wife

By Sapper979 on 29 Aug 2011

Would do but.......

Would be interested to know where they're still for sale at this price. The HP store is sold out & retailers want to try to get back as much as they can for them, so who's selling at the HP price?! Certainly not ebay or Amazon. Shop search on Google shows lowest price of £217!

By AJPCSolutions on 9 Sep 2011

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