Friday, July 29, 2011

The HP TouchPad Takes on iPad2- Part One

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has never been a silent player in the world of personal computing—it was the company that gave life to Silicon Valley.  After having bought Palm last year, and subsequently the WebOS platform, HP is wasting no time putting that technology to good use.  The just introduced the HP TouchPad, a WebOS powered tablet that is a serious contender against the iPad.  Only time will tell if HP can capture he tablet market like they have the printer market, but in the meantime, we’re putting together a two-part article to break down the features and the pricing on the secondary market.  Today we will focus on the features and functionality of the TouchPad.  Check back next week for Part Two on pricing.

Multitasking simplifies user experience
iPad2 users have had several complaints about functionality, and it appears HP has been listening.  The TouchPad features not only true multitasking, but wireless printing and full support for Adobe Flash 3.2.  Users who are migrating from PCs to tablets are used to having all of these features, so HP’s attention to detail really pays off here.  Users can seamlessly transition from email, to browser, to calendar without having to shut down applications.  Printing isn’t quite as seamless, as you must own a compatible HP printer, but the option is still there. 

Users of the HP TouchPad will find the user interface quite friendly. Applications that they use a lot will be stored in a Quick Launch bar as shortcuts. In this way, it will be easy to pop up your email, IM service or web browser and quickly do the tasks you like to on your tablet without much fuss. When you switch to another application, the previous one stays active in the form of what WebOS calls a card, which allows you to jump from application to application at your whim.

If you are comparing WebOS apps to iOS apps, however, iOS wins hands down.  HP has not yet garnered the support from developers like Apple has, but the most popular apps are still available, such as Kindle, FaceBook, Angry Birds, and more.  If a large suite of apps is important to you from the get go, however, you’ll want to wait for the library to build up before purchasing a TouchPad

In terms of the size and resolution of the HP TouchPad is spot on with iPad2. Both feature a 9.7” screen with IPS technology that allows the screen to be viewed at an angle.  However the iPad2 weights slightly less at 1.3lbs to the TouchPad’s 1.6lbs.

Technically, the HP TouchPad is not entirely a mobile computing unit because all launch versions are Wi-Fi bound.  HP does have plans to partner with AT&T for a 4G version, but no details are yet available. 

The WebOS operating system that gives the HP TouchPad so much of its uniqueness is being used by HP to launch their own smartphone as well. They will be given the names of the HP Veer and the HP Pre3. The Veer will be the smaller of the two smartphones and the Pre3 will be designed for the business crowd with a larger screen and an actual keyboard for typing emails or documents.

Right out of the box, the HP TouchPad brings some serious competition to the tablet market. The on-screen notification system and the multitasking feature is a breath of fresh air to those who are tired of the limitations of the iPad2. The breakthrough design innovation that HP is able to bring to their base platform bodes well for future versions of the TouchPad. Stay tuned for Part Two where we examine how the TouchPad’s prices compare to the iPad2 on the used market.

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