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HP TouchPad review

HP webOS finally arrives on tablets, but how does it stand up to the competition?

HP touchpad

The HP TouchPad has been eagerly awaited, so the question is whether it was worth it. The iPad's already on its second iteration, while Samsung has been fine-tuning the template it laid down late last year with the original Galaxy Tab and turning it into the Galaxy Tab 10.1. And Asus' Eee Pad Transformer just about blew us away, doing something really different.

Where does the TouchPad sit among these? It's got an appealing design, a revered operating system and enviable specs, but the challenge for many early attempts has been to create something that's more than the sum of its parts.

We liked

HP webOS is a genuinely impressive operating system. Although some tout it as being intuitive, we're not sure that's really its strength. With its multitasking and the way its cards and stacking features work, it can be a great working tool, grouping apps together by task.

The design of the TouchPad on the whole is nice, even if it's got some downsides. It's all nicely featureful, with plenty of social network integration being supplemented by the likes of 1080p video playback and Adobe Flash support. Other usability tweaks, such as the resizable keyboard, are very handy too.

The integration with other HP/Palm products is also a thoughtful touch. We didn't have a Pre 3 to test the touch-sharing technology or messaging/call sharing, but these are great little technological touches that should appeal to the webOS purists.

HP Pivot is also a really strong feature. Turning app discovery into an editorial experience is a great way to differentiate the AppCatalog from its equivalents on iOS or Android.

We disliked

The reason the HP TouchPad hasn't got a higher score overall isn't due to some major flaw or missing feature. It's more of a 'death by 1,000 paper cuts' situation (although 'death' is a major exaggeration).

Performance is sluggish. It's not as bad as the worst budget tablets around, certainly, and not all of the time, but it's often enough that it doesn't come across that well for its price point.

The AppCatalog just isn't as fully stocked as its rivals. The most impressive apps are multi-platform, so the TouchPad struggles to stand out from this perspective.

There's 1080p movie playback, but no HDMI out to enjoy it. Similarly, the screen has fairly good viewing angles and is nice enough when viewed in isolation, but doesn't go as bright as its rivals, and just isn't as good under lights because of it.

The notification system is impressively unobtrusive, but isn't a lot of good for getting information at a glance. The video player didn't pull through thumbnails or names. The music player couldn't decide if it should show album art or not.

None of these is a deal breaker on its own, but they – and myriad other small niggles – add up to create an experience that feels more unpolished the more you use it.

Verdict

Imagine the current crop of tablets side by side in a shop. Someone walks along and the question is "Why would I buy this one over the others?"

The HP TouchPad is less polished than the iPad, with a smaller range of impressive third-party apps. Yes, it's got features that the iPad lacks, but so do the Android tablets, and they have a bigger app selection, too. The interface appears more polished than many Android tablets, but in operation that doesn't really stand up. It's also lagging behind in many hardware features, such as HDMI output.

HP webOS is a very well thought-out operating system, and there's a lot to like about the TouchPad. But why would you buy it over the others? We're not sure many people will find an answer to that question.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity64 GB
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Graphics Controller ManufacturerQualcomm
Graphics Controller ModelAdreno 220
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Backlight TechnologyLED
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformWebOS
Processor ModelAPQ8060
ColourWhite
Operating SystemHP webOS 3.0
Brand NameHP
Form FactorSlate
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Screen Size24.6 cm (9.7")
Number of Cells2-cell
Screen Resolution1024 x 768
Standard Memory1 GB
Weight (Approximate)740 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Height240 mm
Width190 mm
Depth14 mm
Screen ModeXGA
ManufacturerHewlett-Packard
Product NameTouchPad Tablet
Aspect Ratio4:3
Manufacturer Part NumberFB425UA#ABB
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.hp.com/uk
Marketing InformationHP TouchPad

Works like you, so you get more done.

The new HP TouchPad is designed to work like you. Letting you connect, play, surf, and share more easily. No barriers. No complications. Just a seamless flow from one thing to the next. HP TouchPad. There's nothing like it.

Next-level multitasking

Get a simple, natural way to move from one thing to the next. Have related activities automatically grouped together into card stacks.

Just type

Simply start typing to search the web, update your status, or begin just about anything. Think about what you want to do, not how you have to do it.

Package Contents
  • TouchPad Tablet Computer
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • AC Adapter
  • Limited Warranty1 Year