Early Thoughts on the HP Touchpad from Chippy and Thomas

Posted on 09 February 2011 by

Thomas and I watched the HP event as close as we could this evening (Credit to Engadget and Twitter!) and I think it’s fair to say that we were both impressed with the might of the announcements. The main event for us was the launch of the Touchpad and after just a few hours of mulling over the specs, hands-on and information, we’ve put some thoughts together for you.

WebOS Touchpad

Chippy Says:

It’s slick, it’s powerful and it’s the underdog. The HP Touchpad, announced today, is getting a lot of support from the online community this evening. Or is it just the bloggers and twitterers going mad to get their early SEO and follower-optimised articles and keywords in?

It’s targeted directly at the iPad with a similar look and, we suspect, a similar price but there are a few differences to point out. Number one, of course, is the operating system. ‘True’ Multitasking (some of the UI features are targeted towards true window-multitasking) and a good track record of usability and speed. It’s an operating system, however, that doesn’t have the application database that the iPad has so it will have to draw users (and devs) in by other means.

  • Webcam
  • Dual-core 1.2Ghz CPU
  • 1GB RAM

Storage, screen, weight, battery and sizing seem very similar to the iPad.

You’ve got the micro-USB port and BT 2.1 of course so at least the OS is more open to physical connectivity and there’s that touchstone technology (if you’ve got both a pre, a touchpad and the touchstone accessory – or is it BT3.0 near-field – you can do some neat tricks too) but that’s about it. The key feature is really the OS brand and the CPU and with the iPad 2 coming up, that CPU advantage is likely to drop away. You’re left with an OS, applications and content choice. Both iOS and WebOS appear to have a productivity angle. Both, to be honest, are going to be slick devices. At the end of the day, the HP Touchpad is going to be for the people that want an iPad, but don’t want an iPad! I doubt many Google users (mail, maps, talk, reader users) are going to be tempted away from Android if it does look less impressive although yes, there’s a growing number of new customers out there still trying to make a decision.

Could pricing be the answer? It has to be in my opinion because unless HP can ramp up a serious amount of devs and apps before launch, it hasn’t got enough to give it long-term momentum.

Thomas Says:

The Touchpad is a very nice looking device, powered by the compelling webOS and backed by one of the worlds biggest PC manufacturers. So, why do I remain sceptical?

Firstly, it’s not about the device, it’s about who uses them. iPhone users are familiar with iOS and are much more likely to choose the iPad. Android users are generally familiar with Android (duh?) and even with the various custom user interfaces I can see Android customers to be more familiar with a Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom or any other Android tablet. The same can be said for any platform,  however this could never useful to HP with the webOS platform in it’s current state, thanks to it’s limited user base.

Secondly, not only did Apple and Google have a large number of users on-board when they announced their tablet platforms, they had developers too. Both Apple and Google can both boast a well stocked application store, something that HP / Palm can not.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish HP every success with their new webOS products, but in terms of tablets your average consumer will only be willing to spend big money if they’re buying the best available product. Much like the early days of Android, users won’t flock to webOS till the platform is right, never mind the product.

I’d say selling the Touchpad in vast quantities will be an upward struggle for HP, unless of course they can keep the pricing down. Buy one Pre 3, get a Touchpad half price - any takers?

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9 Comments For This Post

  1. James Pond says:

    “Buy one Pre 3, get a Touchpad half price – any takers?”

    As a current user of a Palm Pré Plus, I find the Palm Pre 3 really interesting and a potential buy. Such a deal could interest me!!!

    However it does not change much to your analysis: not sure that those unfamiliar with WebOS would go that route.

    On the other hand, new smartphone/tablet users could choose WebOS devices if they have the chance to give it a try. My personal story says that I thought of the Palm Pré as a “just cool” device until I tried one in a store when I absolutely wanted one thereafter.

    Concerning current iOS and Android users, some of them could also switch to WebOS if the devices are really good.

  2. chippy says:

    “On the other hand, new smartphone/tablet users could choose WebOS devices if they have the chance to give it a try” < I agree, there's a chance for HP to capture many of the 'new' users to the segment. It will take a lot of marketing but it's possible.

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  4. HeriHigh says:

    easy, sale their PC’s as “Dual Boot” with webOS & you can get an audience of hundreds-of-millions in just a few years.

    dual boot never succeeded in the past because it didnt have a real standardized OS backed by a major manufacture, it was always little Linux variants. but webOS will be a uniform OS, backed by the largest manufacture in the world.

    plus we now live in a world were people are slowly moving away from their desktop OS in favor of mobile OS’s, this wasnt the case a few years ago.

    if any company in the world could make this succeed it’s HP, obviously Dell just doesnt have the vision to do anything right anymore. they cant even make quality generic Android devices.

  5. Sam says:

    Dual-boot is a trick desirable to only a few people. Now, if HP provided a usable way to run WebOS apps from Windows and Mac OS, that might be helpful to some users. (Something integrated into the desktop environment, and not a simulator/emulator intended for developers).

  6. Sam says:

    After my comment, I notice that other sites are saying that HP intends to do what i suggested…

  7. lala says:

    I’m not going to get too excited yet until it gets enough third party support (accessories and software) and a lot of positive user experiences. I did that when Android first came out. Took me a couple years to actually buy an Android device (moved from an iPhone). So far, based on the Pre and Pixi, they have a ways to go. Right now, I’ll probably only buy iOS or Android based devices.

  8. atoth says:

    I think there are lot of people who will not by an iPad because of Apple’s closed ecosystem and also hesitate to buy Android tablet (some are suspiciously cheap, no tablet specific Google OS version is available now, confusion about OS versions, etc.). For them (not ot mention every suppliers’ dream: enterprise customers) the HP’s name sounds good, good enough to give it a try.

  9. Rachel says:

    According to HP Touchpad there were 64 million tablets sold last year. If you take into account HP’s pure size and Palm’s relatively small, but stable following – I think the HP touchpad can be the number 2 tablet of the year. Android is going to be released on too many different hardware platforms imo.

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