Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Review over HP TouchPad

There’s a lot to like about HP’s new TouchPad – but not enough says Matt Warman.

Lining up next to offerings from Apple, Samsung, Motorola and Acer, yet another tablet launches tomorrow. The latest addition to the blister pack is HP’s TouchPad but this is a tablet like no other. It works in a different way to rivals because it runs on a new operating system, called WebOS.
Unfortunately for HP, although early reviews, including my own, said that there was a lot to like about the TouchPad, the overwhelming consensus was that this device is not yet really finished. Its wireless charging is impressive, for instance, as is its overall interface, but it doesn’t feel as fast or as slick as Apple’s excellent iPad or its closest rival, the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The TouchPad, nonetheless, shows real signs of potentially offering a real alternative in the future. The marketing and development might of HP – a company that makes an awful lot more than printers – will ensure the device is around for some time to come, and serious competition for Apple and Google can only be a good thing.
It’s unfortunate that American retailers, however, are already having to discount the TouchPad, and that the announcement of a new, faster model looks like fixing a problem rather than announcing an upgrade.
The current device, however, feels solid, albeit slightly plasticky in the hand. At 740g, it’s slightly heavier than an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, although perfectly portable enough. But turn on the TouchPad and it’s all about registering for an HP account, agreeing to terms and conditions and generally going through a painfully corporate palaver. Is this as bad as plugging a new iPad into iTunes? Probably not, but it certainly doesn’t feel magical.
Perhaps it would be perfectly forgivable if WebOS, the operating system that HP bought from Palm, lived up to the hype. And indeed there is a lot to like. In many ways the TouchPad rewrites – reinscribes? – the tablet handbook. Gone is the homescreen with icons and widgets indicating programmes or services. Instead, there’s a desktop that is basically just a staging post each of the apps the TouchPad runs. So press the home button and each ‘card’ is arrayed in a line. Swipe up to close or tap to select. If you’re writing an email message, the message gets a new ‘card’ so you can also refer back to your inbox. This is progress, compared to other tablets.
But is it enough when the email app itself takes five seconds or so to grind into action every time you fire it up? When other apps take more like 10 seconds? This doesn’t sound like long, but other tablets don’t keep you hanging around. And is it enough when, inexplicably, the TouchPad decided to duplicate my inbox nine times, offering a range of different unread message counts? These may all be teething troubles. When the TouchPad works, it does work very well.
Indeed, the wireless charging option – simply stand the TouchPad on its stand and it charges quickly and simply – is really impressive. The idea, coming soon, of printing from the TouchPad simply by touching it on a printer is attractive too. This underlines HP’s power to get some things spectacularly right.

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