HP looks to be the final entrant in the tablet wars until Microsoft releases Windows 8 next year. The TouchPad, which runs webOS 3, has been widely reviewed by multiple publications ahead of its July 1st launch in the United States. In a nutshell, it’s not an iPad killer, though things could be looking up in the near future.
On the hardware side, it’s been noted time and time again that it is almost identical to the original iPad. Jason Snell shares an interesting story around this idea:
I spent half an hour in a meeting, using HP’s new TouchPad tablet, before someone realized I wasn’t using an iPad. That says a lot about this product—due to be released Friday—and not just in superficial ways.
The specifications, however, are very competitive with the best of the tablet world: dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm APQ8060 Snapdragon processor, along with 1 GB of RAM, and a 9.7″ 1024 x 768 screen. Very competitive with the tablet world of today, but there seems to be a general feeling that the software isn’t quite ready. Random slowdowns, bugginess, and some amount of UI inconsistency as one dives deeper in to the OS has been widely reported. Josh Topolsky of Thisismynext reports that HP is aware of these problems:
I spoke with Jon Rubinstein and others at HP, and was assured that nearly all of the bugs and issues I’ve been experiencing will be fixed in an OTA update coming shortly after the device launches. In fact, I went piece by piece down my list of complaints, and on every point folks at the company said that they were aware of the issue and that if it wasn’t already fixed in the latest build of the OS, it would be before the update rolls out. Of course, the issue here is that the shipping product will contain much of what I’ve been dealing with, making for a flakey experience for early adopters.
That OTA update is expected within the next month. So yes, it is “coming soon.” Again to Jason Snell, who seems to sum up the opinion of the majority of reviews on the internet:
Is there any reason for a prospective iPad user to buy a TouchPad today? I can’t see it. In a head-to-head comparison with the original iPad on launch day, the TouchPad might win out due to its dual-core processor and multitasking support. But today’s iPad 2 has both, along with tens of thousands of tablet-optimized apps and almost none of the quirks that the TouchPad currently exhibits.
Close, but no cigar. Most reviews do seem to feel that if HP were able to iron out the bugs and lagginess, as well as creating a vibrant app ecosystem, that this could be the first true iPad competitor in a month. And there’s a native Facebook app.
In related news, HP seems to be interested in licensing webOS to different OEMs, like Microsoft does with Windows Phone 7. According to a report by Bloomberg, CEO of HP Leo Apotheker stated that his company was in talks with “a number of companies.” He declined to give a time frame for such a move.