These days, the size does matter. That is what HP has adopted when making the much awaited TouchPad; it puts tiny smartphones and tablets to shame with its 9.7 inch touchscreen. After much hype this year the HP tablet has been finally released.
Priced along with the iPad, HP TouchPad costs $499 which might not be able to attract Apple’s customers. But there is something very different about this tablet; it does not run on Android or Apple’s iOS, it has the very rare webOS.
In terms of size, this tablet is quite large and equally heavy. It weighs in at 1.65 pounds (750 grams), heavier than the 600 gram iPad 2, or the 570 gram Galaxy Tab 10.1; heavier even than the 730 gram Motorola Xoom – which is already known to be quite bulky. This part received quite negative reviews: Laptop Magazine rated the TouchPad 2/5 mostly because of the weight saying “we felt the strain on our arm when trying to use the slate one-handed after several minutes.” Even Engadget noted that this tablet was “somewhat chunky”.
The appearance of the TouchPad also receives some mixed responses. Its back is covered with a black plastic, which according to Engadget, is “reminiscent of the early, similarly sheen PS3 consoles — cool to touch and nice to look at, but an astonishingly effective fingerprint magnet.” The Galaxy series suffered from a similar problem earlier which caused the developers to change the backs in the upcoming phones; I suppose HP wasn’t in loop with that at all. Nevertheless, its concave shape makes it easy to hold despite the bulkiness, but that makes it feel a bit hollow. Since its bends at a greater angle than the other tablets, it gives the user a feeling that the inside of the tablet contains a lot of empty space that could have been utilized in a better fashion.
In terms of performance the HP TouchPad is supposed to be fast since it uses the 1.2GHz Dual Core Processor with 1GB RAM, but it still makes you wait. Its boot up time is slow compared to the Galaxy or iPad 2. But for the common user, it doesn’t disappoint; browsing is very quick, even when graphics or flash are all over a website.
The battery life of the HP tablet is 9 hours for continuous video playback, which puts it slightly ahead of its competitors but still behind the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Pad. Its speakers are quite impressive; the TouchPad uses a branded system which delivers a full sound as compared to other ones found in tablets and smartphones.
HP has also included some decent apps and systems in its tablet software. The calendar is an easy-to-use app that lets you sync with Facebook, Exchange, Yahoo!, etc. The web browser – on the other hand – is full of buttons and tabbed browsing isn’t a possibility. Nevertheless, browsing speed is relatively good and can play HD videos with reasonable quality.
HP has designed its own custom social networking apps; Facebook and Twitter. These are far advanced than others found in tablets and are optimized for tablet use. Engadget describes Facebook’s functionality: “it’s focused on giving you a view into the happenings of those you’ve chosen to indicate you’re friendly with on the service. You’re given two perspectives: a traditional list view and a less symmetrical grid arrangement that presents boxes of varying sizes corresponding to the size of the update posted by your associate — and possibly to the volume of their hubris.” Twitter has a similar app with a multi column view but serious tweeters will find its functionality inferior to the former.
Other notable preinstalled apps include Bing Maps; Quick Office, an app which allows one to edit documents; Epicurious; an app for the culinary art and recipes; printing and video calling.
The HP tablet offers some accessories that impress. It’s charging is done by the notable Touchstone Charging Dock which has the ability of wireless charging. However, at $80 hardly anyone would believe that it’s a good buy. A wireless keyboard is also available at $70 which removes the hassle of writing emails and documents on a tablet – something we know is very annoying to say the least.
All-in-all the HP TouchPad impresses the average user to an extent but doesn’t go as far to make it the tablet of choice for everyone. Every feature it offers can be outdone by the iPad 2, and at times by the Galaxy Tab. So is it worth it to buy this tablet when better alternatives are available? Probably not. The TouchPad remains the second-best tablet in the market.