The HP TouchPad brings the highly rated Smartphone WebOS operating system to a tablet PC. It’s a very user-friendly way of interacting with a tablet. But the software is let down by a sluggish performance on the hardware.
HP TouchPad Strengths
- The 9.7-inch multi-touch capacitive screen of the HP TouchPad is glossy and sharp (1024 by 768 pixels screen resolution). This screen format matches the iPad.
- Videos and pictures look colourful and the picture maintains contrast even when you’re looking at it from more extreme angles.
- Excellent build quality and comfortable to hold. At 750 grams it’s heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab or iPad 2 but in the same range as other tablet PCs.
- WebOS 3.0 is the operating system and this is a very user-friendly and fun way of interacting with the device. It’s intuitive and easy to use. It also offers great multitasking capabilities for when you are running more than one application at a time – simple “cards” making it quick to switch between tasks.
- The Internet browser loaded web pages quickly and you can swipe and pinch to navigate your way around them.
- HP Apps Catalogue is available on the tablet to search and download new apps and games.
- Apps available range from handling email to Facebook and mapping:
- The email app is simple and straight-forward to use. It makes the most of the large screen format in comparison to a Smartphone and ties together multiple email accounts.
- The QuickOffice app also provides an option to view Microsoft Office documents – Word, Excel etc.
- There’s also a music & videos app, a mapping app, memos app and messaging app.
- Other apps available for free that are specifically optimised for the HP tablet cover social networking on Facebook and Twitter
- The on-screen keyboard has an intelligent auto-correct feature so you can tap away messages and it corrects where you have mistyped.
- Video playback is smooth in full high-definition.
- Battery life is fairly decent at 8-9 hours of continuous video playback.
- The TouchPad can wirelessly connect to some HP printers so you can print to them without a wired connection – check which ones before you buy though.
- You can also link it up wirelessly to certain HP Smartphones so you can answer emails and texts from your phone, on the TouchPad.
- Micro-USB port for connecting to a PC or laptop.
- You can opt to buy a TouchPad with 16GB or 32GB of internal memory – the latter being around £80 more expensive. You can use the memory for storing video, apps, music and other files so if you go for the 32GB version you’ll get a decent amount of space. 16GB is quickly consumed once you add videos to the memory.
- Decent speakers offer a good audio output for listening to video or music.
- 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera used with the Skype video chat application.
- Accessories available include a wireless keyboard and a charging dock.
HP TouchPad Weaknesses
- The HP TouchPad has a decent processor but the performance doesn’t match up to the specification. The interface is slow and apps take longer to load than comparably priced tablets. Other examples of this include the sluggish boot speed of the TouchPad in comparison to booting the iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It just takes longer to go from being off to being useful. Switching from portrait to landscape tablet orientation is slow too.
- It supports Flash so that means you have access to the web content that’s delivered using this technology. But, it struggles to play Flash videos in the browser, the outcome is a very stuttery and erratic performance.
- The selection of apps specifically optimised for this large screen tablet are extremely limited. There’s around 6000 Smartphone apps that also work on this HP tablet, but there are only a few hundred apps specifically designed for the TouchPad’s larger screen.
- Currently, there’s no option to output the TouchPad’s video via a high-definition cable to your TV. Unlike other similar price tablets, you don’t have the flexibility to watch what’s on your tablet’s screen, on a HD TV.
Tablet Review – HP TouchPad
There are three market leading operating systems for tablet PCs right now - iOS on the iPad, Android and Windows. To break into this pack a new entrant needs to be exceptional. The TouchPad has been eagerly awaited but doesn’t live up to expectations and it’s hard to see how it will muscle its way in to the best-selling tablets.
The biggest issues are a severe shortage of apps and an inconsistent performance. There are too many occasions when the performance is sluggish and clunky. Also, the HP tablet desperately needs a more complete eco-system if it’s going to challenge the iPad.
However, there are signs of potential here. WebOS is an excellent operating system, with a little more polish and some more supportive tablet hardware, it could really compete with iOS and Android.
For now, this tablet is one to watch. It will be interesting to see how HP evolve the TouchPad to bring it up to speed to deliver WebOS effectively.
UPDATE: HP are no-longer supporting the HP TouchPad so you’re unlikely to be able to find one to buy new but may still be able to purchase it second hand or via a specialist provider. That said I’d recommend against this unless you get a very good deal as you can expect updates to the operating system to stop fairly soon.