If this were a race of numbers, Apple would have already won. It isn't. The iPad 2, as successful as it is, isn't perfect. There's tons of room for innovation and we're seeing its competitors offer clear examples of that innovation. As with any market, the lower your market share the more likely you are as a company to take risks. After all, you've got nothing to lose. It's in breaking the mold and taking these risks that great ideas are often born.

For HP there wasn't much of a risk to take with their first entry into the new tablet market, thanks to Palm's risk taking three years ago. For those who have used a webOS phone in the past, the OS needed very little functional improvement. It was just a matter of needing better hardware, squashing bugs and improving performance. The fundamentals were sound.

In fact, I'm still surprised that no one has managed to really copy the things that made webOS so great given how much time has passed since the Palm Pre first went on sale. Even today with multitasking improvements in Honeycomb and iOS, it's still easier to launch, exit and switch between apps on webOS.

Has HP been able to give webOS the rest of the ingredients it needs to succeed? On the hardware side I think that's definitely the case. The new webOS family is powered by the latest and greatest from Qualcomm. Fast single core SoCs in the phones and Qualcomm's fastest dual-core SoC in the tablet. It's the software that remains webOS' blessing and curse. The functionality is there and remains unrivaled in many ways, but the platform is still buggy and is at times seriously limited in the performance department.

We'll get to all of that throughout the course of this review but first let's meet the TouchPad.

The hardware itself is pretty. The TouchPad is made entirely of glossy black plastic around the back and a 9.7-inch glass touchscreen on the front. The edges are all curved making the tablet easy to hold. While the glossy black plastic looks elegant at first, it shows fingerprints just like an old iPod.

The TouchPad is thicker than the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1, but it's not the thickness that bothers me. The TouchPad is the heaviest tablet we've reviewed. At 730g it's over 20% heavier than the iPad 2 and the weight is noticeable. If you're using it on its dock or on your lap the weight isn't a problem, but holding it up for long periods of time can be fatiguing.

Build quality is good but not great. I detected a little bit of movement in the chassis if I tried to flex the TouchPad slightly. The micro USB connector at the bottom isn't perfectly lined up with the cutout in the chassis either, requiring me to insert its USB cable at an angle. The volume rocker on the right side of the unit wiggles a bit in place. All of these are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things but they're worth pointing out.

There's a microphone up top as well as your standard power/lock button and 1/8" headset/mic jack. A physical home button is in the usual place with a built in white LED notification indicator.

The TouchPad has two speakers along its left side:

Like its competitors the TouchPad has a built in accelerometer and gyroscope to detect rotation and movement along multiples axes. You can orient the TouchPad in all four directions and the OS will rotate accordingly. The accelerometer in the TouchPad is extremely sensitive, often rotating the screen for very slight movements of the tablet itself. While this sounds like a good thing, in practice it's not. The TouchPad usually rotated when I didn't want to and then seemed to lose its sensitivity issues when I tried to rotate it back. The problem here is likely in software.

2011 Tablet Comparison
  Apple iPad 2 ASUS Eee Pad Transformer HP TouchPad Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
SoC Apple A5 (Dual ARM Cortex A9 @ 1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Dual ARM Cortex A9 @ 1GHz) Qualcomm APQ8660 (Dual Scorpion @ 1.2GHz) NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Dual ARM Cortex A9 @ 1GHz)
GPU PowerVR SGX 543MP2 NVIDIA GeForce Adreno 220 NVIDIA GeForce
RAM 512MB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Display 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 IPS 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 IPS 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 PLS
NAND 16GB - 64GB 16GB - 32GB 16GB - 32GB 16GB - 32GB
Dimensions 241.2mm x 185.7mm x 8.8mm 271mm x 175mm x 12.95mm 240mm x 190mm x 13.7mm 256.6 x 172.9 x 8.6mm
Weight 601g 695g 730g 565g
Price $499 $399 $499 $499

There is no support for external storage and HP offers a 16GB and 32GB version at $499 and $599 respectively. Both support WiFi although AT&T has already announced a HSPA+ version for use on its network.

webOS Vernacular: Cards, Stacks and a Whole lot of Awesome
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  • Conner_36 - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    to put it simply on the ipad there are apps for that Reply
  • Hrel - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    When did this become CellTech.com? Seriously at first I appreciated the coverage, but really when the OS and hardware is all basically the same you don't need to review EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT RELEASED!!!! Give us bench marks sure, so we can compare specs. Write maybe a page about your impressions on customizations and screen and what not; but that should be it. Why all the articles on this mostly the same crap? Why can't you be this devoted to laptops? There are still TONS of interesting laptops out there you haven't even talked about. I'm not just talking keyboards and screens here, but significant amounts of hardware you simply DO NOT have benchmarked.

    I almost feel like you need to move all this tablet/smartphone/blah blah blah crap to it's own site. I'm sick of seeing it. It's stupid and most people simply do not need it. It's not that interesting and you are focusing WAY too much on it.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    P.S. WHY would I buy a 500 dollar tablet when I can get a pretty good laptop for that same price?

    Seriously these things need to drop down to 200 bucks or less without a 8000 dollar contract; this shit is insane. Only handheld I care about at all are PSP Vita and everything made my Archos and you guys haven't touched on any of that AT ALL!!!!!!

    Honestly, FUCK anything and everything that requires a contract!!!!
    Reply
  • jebo - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    I disagree, I'm really enjoying Anand's looks at the mobile industry.

    Re: a $200 tablet, there's always the Nook Color.

    Speaking of which, I would like to see the Nook Color mentioned more in these reviews. IMHO, it's still one of the top 3 choices for prospective Tablet buyers due to its cost and the screen quality. I would love to know how it more directly compares with the newer tablets.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    I bought a Nook for $189 on E-bay - direct from Barnes and Noble. It has flash enabled, but is a it under-powered. It works OK for my purposes - browsing on the couch, and entertainment while traveling. Other than that, it doesn't get used a whole lot, which is why I didn't want to spend more than $200. Reply
  • dookiex - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    I don't understand the logic to this. You don't want to spend more than $200 so you ended up with a underpowered and under-supported nook and thus basing off your expectations of tablet devices off of your nook experience. Illogical. Reply
  • Mumrik - Monday, August 22, 2011 - link

    And that's why so many of us just picked up HP Touchpads for 99 or 149 bucks. Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    First off, your rant is way off base... Every single tablet can be bought sans contract. Are they overpriced? IMO, yes, but for millions of people who don't need a laptop (or who have a heavy/big laptop) these tablets are a prefect complement... And AT puts out the best tablet/smartphone reviews on the web, bar none. I really hope they don't slow down anytime soon, even though I'm not even in the market for a tablet right more.

    My next upgrade will probably be an ultraportable to replace my netbook (as you said, a better way to spend $500-700), but there's other places on the web doing competent laptop reviews. Smartphone reviews in particular are awful almost anywhere else, completely devoid of facts or any empirical testing. I do agree that maybe they don't need to review as many mid-range models tho, the three different reviews of single core LTE VZW phones didn't really tell us anything different... But then again, those phones ARE VZW's high end models right now so others would disagree about the reviews' priority.
    Reply
  • sledge333 - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    I totally agree! Sick of all these so wanabee products! Give me a laptop any day. Give me a normal phone any day! Boys and their toys! More suitable for women who carry handbags, but for men, huh! Get a tailored made pair of jeans with a crunch proof pocket to protect it!

    Add the cost whilst sitting outside some fancy coffee shop playing with your toy , because some bastard runs past and nicks it!

    And anyone that wants to watch a movie on a piddley little screen or play games - save up your money for the opticians, you're gonna need it!

    P.S I signed up today just because of the boring reviews on crap I will never use! Get back to computers not bloody toys!
    Reply
  • SongEmu - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    Personally, I appreciate his attention to the rapidly changing scene of mobile technology... Granted, I'd love some PC hardware bench's... but what he's doing isn't a bad thing. Reply

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