The HP TouchPad is dead right? Well, apparently there’s still some stock floating around, and Woot seems to have snatched it up. Today, they’ve got it on sale for you. It isn’t quite the firesale price of many months ago, but still a good deal if you like the HP TouchPad.
While I haven’t had the chance to give them a try myself, pretty much everyone I’ve heard from has really enjoyed WebOS products,Â includingÂ the TouchPad. It’s of course a shame that HP decided to halt the production of the HP TouchPad, along with the Veer and Pre 3 smartphone. As of now, HP says that the WebOS software is going to go open-source, which means the TouchPad might have some longevity after all — if you’re the kind that is able to take advantage of sometimes harder to use open-source content.
Anyway, this is a WiFi-only refurbished model (of course) with 32GB of storage, a 9.7″ 1024×768 screen, a dual core 1.2GHz CPU, and 1GB of RAM. Woot is selling it for $219. If you want a full list of specifications, see the HP TouchPad tracking page in our device database. In the box from Woot, you’ll find the following:
HPÂ TouchPad AC Charger
microUSB Sync Cable
Getting Started Guide
Woot also had the 16GB HP TouchPad on it’s sister site, Sellout.Woot today, but all 739 units sold out within 2 and a half hours. I’m curious to see not only how many units of the 32GB HP TouchPad Woot has, but also how they’ll sell after people were able to snatch them up at $99 a pop (for the 16GB version anyway).Â And don’t forget, because this is Woot, this deal is good only today — it’ll be gone at 1AM EST tomorrow morning — and could sell out even before then.
Of course, if you are late on the draw and find this deal already sold out, Amazon apparently has just a few HP TouchPad’s in stock for a reasonable price. There is the 16GB HP TouchPad for $270 (Amazon says “only 3 left”!) and the 32GB version for $297 (only 4 left!); the latter being the better deal!
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Early last week, I received my notification that my HP TouchPad order was going to be one of the final production run we have all heard about, and that it was expected to ship in 6 to 8 weeks. This stuck in my craw for a few reasons. I had seen the charge from HP flutter back and forth between pending and then disappear for several days. I thought HP was actually trying to fulfill my order out of current stock. While the TouchPad is a case outside of the norm, my usual schtick is not to let people hold onto funding for an order for product that I am not going to receive for several weeks. When I put my order into the HP Small & Medium Business site during the TouchPad firesale, I originally received a notice of intended shipment two days later, so I thought I was ordering from stock. None of this is to say that I cancelled my TouchPad order because I felt HP had dropped the ball. I cancelled my order because I had lost interest in the TouchPad in the face of not getting it immediately, and I had other issues to deal with as well.
While I was ecstatic at getting HoneyStreak to run on my Dell Streak 7, the experience was not without its issues. HoneyStreak is a custom ROM that implements Android 3.2 Honeycomb on the Dell Streak 7. The major thing that was corrected was my Streak’s constantly dropping Wi-Fi connection, but I also received a boost in battery life. However, I lost a few things like the external SD card reader. Keeping the Streak 7 as part of my kit became called into greater question as the number of apps that I wanted to run as part of my routine were found to be broken or partially functional under the Honeycomb ROM. I experienced problems with Gallery, IMDb, and then Google Books. At the end of the day, the partial functionality of my collection of apps on the Streak 7 went beyond what I was willing to bear. My plan had been to run HoneyStreak on the device until my TouchPad showed up, then replace the Streak 7 with the TouchPad. When the HP date moved 6 to 8 weeks to the right and my problems with the Streak 7 increased, I decided it was time to make a different call.
Before I go any further, let me say that the issues with HoneyStreak were likely not insurmountable. I did not hit the XDA forums to see what issues others were having or what work-arounds had been figured out. For all I know, there was an updated version of HoneyStreak available. DJ_Steve, the code’s primary author, has been curating the build since he got his hands on 3.x earlier this year. However, the demands of school have been increasing, and, for the devices that I am going to employ, there is just not as much time to tinker. Loading the custom ROM was a cool thing to do during one soft-spot in my summer semester schedule, but I could not afford continuing maintenance and tinkering. I needed something stock, which is really where I live anyway. So my conundrum was: a Dell Streak 7 which was borderline unusable with its stock install, a custom ROM load that was not sufficiently functional when interacting with some of my more important (or at least frequent) apps, and the planned replacement suffering a 6 to 8 week delay in delivery.
The decision I made was to first cancel my HP TouchPad order. I decided I would be better off taking that $150 and Â putting it towards a device I could get my hands on now. I then ordered an Acer Iconia Tab A100. I was very satisfied with my Acer Iconia Tab A500 so far, so the concept of the same device in a 7-inch form factor was appealing. While I awaited the arrival of the A100 from TigerDirect, I flashed the Streak 7 back to its stock install. Well…almost. I actually replaced some of the image files with some from the Wi-Fi stock install. I am not sure exactly how much difference there is, or if that difference even matters, but I will say that for the short time I had with the Streak 7 after the roll-back, I was no longer seeing the Wi-Fi disconnects that I had been before. I also saw a trend indicating even better battery life than I had seen when the device was running Honeycomb. I can only say that I saw these improvements as trends that hopefully prove to be truly improved functionality on the Streak 7. After the rollback to the stock OS image, I only had about 12 to 14 hours with the device before I handed it off to a potential buyer to demo over the weekend.
You can see and hear some of my early impressions of the Acer Iconia Tab A100 after the first 24 hours of use in the embedded videos below. I do some comparisons between my other two Android tablets, the Motorola Xoom 3G and the Acer Iconia Tab A500. My apologies for the low resolutionÂ and framing. The only thing I had available to shoot video with this weekend was my Sony point-and-shoot camera. I have also dropped some pictures in for viewing. So far, I like what the A100 is bringing to the table in its 7-inch form factor. It is a huge improvement over the Streak 7, and a good compliment to my current set of mobile gear options. I will be posting later short-term and long-term reports as the device gets put to more use.
Last Thursday afternoon, the mobile and PC world was (moderately) shocked by Hewlett-Packard’s announcement that they were considering “all strategic options” for contending with the negative impact the HP Personal Systems Group (PSG) was having on the corporation’s total valuation. Key in this consideration will be the eventual fate of WebOS, the mobile OS that was brought in-house with the purchase of Palm in 2010.
We can understand a certain amount of confusion with the tech-following public as to what HP is really doing and what they committed to on the earnings call. The amount of speculation that I saw running rampant around the web on Thursday was pretty daunting for anyone trying to get the picture on what was really going on. I sat in on the earnings call and wanted to post a few notes on my own take-aways. I should mention that my comments focus on the impact to mobile. HP talked about a lot of other things on the call, including enterprise, and their move towards a software and service-centric focus, but that is not the center of this commentarty.
Leo Apotheker, who has been at the helm of HP for the past nine months, talked about 4 factors driving the strategic direction of HP for the foreseeable future. Of those, the most important to Carrypad’s readers will be the way forward with PSG, within which exists both the hardware design teams and the software development teams for WebOS and its devices to-date. Apotheker indicated that he felt that PSG can compete and win in the PC and mobile marketplace. However, and this was iterated many times throughout the call, the HP TouchPad had failed to meet the sales projections of the executive staff. Financial metrics were set before the launch of the woeful device; yardsticks by which HP determined the success of the OS and the device, and then used to determine certain strategic decisions within the corporation.
With the under-performance of the TouchPad’s launch, HP now intends to turn its emphasis towards cloud solutions for enterprise, encompassing software solutions and services. The company named a new VP for the Enterprise Services, which is the group that has evolved from the EDS purchase back in 2008. There is no question that HP is looking very intently at making themselves an enterprise-only solution provider. When you look at the financials, the reasons behind this may not immediately jump out at you. The chart below from the Quarterly Earnings Statement shows that the PSG accounted for nearly one-thrid of the company’s revenue.
And while HP still holds the lead stake in market share percentage in the personal computer market sector, financials at the next level of detail reveal what has created a concern for Apotheker and his staff. The PSG was 3% off its mark from a year ago in revenue and showed no growth in total units year-over year. Additionally the division took in 4% less revenue in notebook sales, desktop revenue is down 4%, and consumer client revenue is down 17%. Now, some of these numbers may not seem like they should cause that much concern. However, and this is only my speculation, if HP believes that tablets and smartphones will be a growth product sector, and that notebook and desktop PC sales will continue to decline, and HP is looking at its most recent product launches in the mobile category… you might start to see reasons to be concerned.
You could even interpret some of Apotheker’s statements as equating to just that. He and HP’s CFO, Catherine Lesjak, spoke several times about concern over the “velocity of change in the personal computing marketplace”. Apotheker stated that the company had assessed that the impact of the Tablet on personal computer sales was a very real threat. When considered in conjunction with the poor initial sales of the TouchPad, the various factors combined to lead them to consider restructuring into a new HP that may or may not include the PSG, and therefore WebOS.
I have seen all sorts of hyperbolic headlines around the web saying that HP is selling off its personal computing business and that, at least as of today, is simply not true. The executive staff of HP have a 12 to 18 month outlook as to what may become of the PSG. Another important tidbit, which Apotheker said himself during the Q&A following the formal presentation, is that a possible outcome of the PSG assessment is that the division may remain a part of HP proper with no change in the corporate structure. I believe that other things would still change, like strategic focus, design approaches, and so forth.
CENS.com had released a press release which included this statement:
As the world`s largest PC brand, HP is now in the tablet PC arena after introducing the 9.7-inch Touch Pad, has ordered from a supplier for 400,000 to 450,000 Touch Pad tablet PCs per month, and will sometime in August launch seven-inch tablet PCs. Inventec will supply HP these two tablet PC models.
The key here is the fact that Inventec is pointed to as the supplier of the device. Thanks to the FCC, we can see that the label location diagram bears the Inventec name. This gives more credibility to the statement above, and it is safe to say that the proposed August launch is likely to be accurate.
The 7-inch device that was once codenamed ‘Opal’ has been officially dubbed the TouchPad Go, and will come in 16GB/32GB variants, as well as 3G and 4G.
The label diagram indicates that 4G is HSPA+ which rules out Verizon, but there’s also a label that simply specifies ‘3G’ and doesn’t detail whether it’s HSPA or EV-DO, so Verizon and other CDMA carriers may or may not end up with the TouchPad Go. It’s safe to assume that the HSPA+ variant will find its way to AT&T, given that the 4G version of the 10” TouchPad already calls AT&T, home.
There’s a high probability that the TouchPad Go 4G will be using the dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8060, just as the TouchPad 4G is, but it isn’t clear whether or not there will be a CPU speed divide like we currently see between the TouchPad and the TouchPad 4G.
The TouchPad (WiFi-only) hit the market with the APQ8060 (a WiFi-only version of the MSM8060). HP clocked the APQ8060 to 1.2GHz for the WiFi-only TouchPad. The TouchPad 4G, which was announced shortly thereafter, uses the MSM8060, but HP decided to clock it to its full 1.5GHz.
I don’t exactly understand HP’s reason for having these two slightly different speeds, but if they feel there’s a need for it, we might see the same pattern come to the TouchPad Go, which would mean a 1.2GHz WiFi-only version while the 4G version would be clocked to 1.5GHz. That, or perhaps HP will just decide to release a software update to clock the WiFi-only TouchPad up to 1.5GHz to match the rest of the devices.
The labels found in the FCC documents list ‘1.5G’ across all variants; it’s likely (but not certain) that this means 1.5Ghz as opposed to ‘generation 1.5’.
If there’s one thing I love, it’s visualized statistics. Fortunately for me, and anyone else who shares that sentiment, Woot has a nice visual representation of the sales stats of its various products. And seeing how that newfangled HP TouchPad was on sale yesterday, you may be curious to see how it all went down. Let’s have a look:
First sucker: jasonterhorst (first person to buy the TouchPad)
Speed to first woot: 6m 54.030s (how long after the deal went up that they pulled the trigger)
Last wooter to woot: scaevola (last person to buy the TouchPad)
Last purchase time: 11:59:29 PM Central TimeOrder pace: 2m 21.125s (one TouchPad was sold, on average, every two minutes and 21 seconds)
Woot wage: $15,839.08 (how much Woot made from the salesWoots sold: 612
And here are the nice visual bits I promised:
Looks like the coasts are a bit more tablet-friendly than the interior of the country. I wouldn’t have expected it, but it looks like Utah ended up with the most TouchPads, with Virginia following closely behind. We can also see that for 45% of the purchasers, this was their first Woot.
This isn’t a complete picture of the table tendencies of the nation though as our sample size is only 612!
I was literally in bed when I caught wind of this, and now I’m sparing myself a few additional minutes of rest to bring you this news right away (no, I didn’t have time to get dressed â€“ yes, this is that urgent). Our favorite deal-a-day site, Woot.com, has the HP TouchPad for just $379.
Why is it important that you be the first to know? Because Woot offers a deal on one single item every day, and that means that come tomorrow, this deal will be history. Furthermore, they’ve only got a limited (and unannounced) stock, so it could sell out before tomorrow even rolls around.
This is a brand new unit packing a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 CPU. It’s the WiFi only version of the device and it comes with 16GB of memory built-in. Here’s what comes in the box:
The $379 price tag only beats what you’ll find on Amazon or direct from HP by $20 right now, but, that’s because HP is currently offering $100 off of the TouchPad from August 5th-7th. Once this period is over, HP and Amazon will go back to charging $499 for the 16GB WiFi-only TouchPad, which makes Woot’s deal that much better.
Not long after the launch of the WiFi-only unit, HP announced a ‘4G’ version of the device for use on AT&T’s network. This version includes a higher clock on the CPU, which brings it up to 1.5GHz. HP has been unclear whether or not they would bump the speed on the WiFi-only units through a software update or a hardware change at some point down the road.
Today HP announced the first cellular version of their recently launched HP TouchPad. The device appears to be launching first with AT&T and will be braded as the TouchPad 4G (which I hate because AT&T’s ‘4G’ network is slow as hell compared to Verizon’s LTE). The real news here is that the TouchPad 4G comes with its CPU clocked to 1.5GHz, bumped up slightly from the 1.2GHz clock speed that we saw in the WiFi-only model that launched not even two weeks ago.
Clocking to 1.2GHz means that they’ve got some room to play with the speed down the road, and we may see a bump in clock speed at a later date, to keep the performance competitive
I will admit that I didn’t see it coming this early.
We knew early on that the Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 found in the touchpad supports a maximum clock speed of 1.5GHz, but HP decided to take it down to 1.2GHz, likely for performance and battery life considerations. Qualcomm states that the APQ8060 offers a 60% increase in performance over ARM A9 dual-core CPUs that have been seen in a number of recent Android tablets, though I figured this stat is only valid when the APQ8060 is running at its full 1.5GHz speed.
Now that the TouchPad 4G will be running the MSM8060 (the variant of the APQ8060 that supports 3G/4G modems) at its full capacity, perhaps we’ll see that claim reflecting reality a bit more than early reviews have indicated.
According to This is My Next, HP won’t be bringing the just-shipped WiFi-only version of the TouchPad up to 1.5GHz through a software update or a subsequent hardware refresh. This seems a bit silly, and I think they may indeed decide to push the update through to WiFi only devices at a later date.
I also still stick to my prediction that we’ll see an HP TouchPad ‘1.5’ within 6-months of launch which has updated hardware (rather than a mere overclocking), though that may come in the form of a third-party WebOS device:
In my mind, I see HP releasing a TouchPad 1.5 sometime around 6 months after the TouchPad is released that adds some important ports and to bump the performance to compete with Kal-El devices and the iPad 3.
The HP TouchPad has hit the streets and the reviewsareinâ€¦ and they’re mixed.
After reading through a number of reviews, here are a few of the things I’m seeing repeated:
Sub-par performance â€“ the TouchPad’s 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 should have the oomph to compete with contemporary tablets, but it sounds like applications are running sluggishly, which is likely a combination of developers getting used to the platform and the software lacking a few years of optimization that has been seen on Android and iOS. Auto-rotation responsiveness is a common review-complaint.
Heavy! â€“ The TouchPad is one of the heaviest 10â€ tablets currently on the market. I didn’t even realize that it was heavier than the Xoom, which is constructed mostly of metal and glass, while the TouchPad’s body is plastic. A number of reviewers also said that the build quality of the device was not as nice as some other tablets on the market, also noting that the back of the tablet is very prone to fingerprint pickup. Here are the weights of some of the top tablets:
Best-in-class multitasking â€“ It seems WebOS’s card-style multitasking concept has scaled very well from it’s initial introduction on Palm’s ‘Pre’ smartphone. Tim Stevens of Engadget says in his review that multitasking on the TouchPad is â€œâ€¦genuinely fun; there’s something very satisfying about literally throwing away a window that you no longer want cluttering up your screen or your RAM.â€ It sounds to me like multitasking is intuitive and functional; the former part of which we don’t quite find on any current iteration of iOS or Android.
Impressive speakers (for a tablet) â€“ The HP TouchPad has ‘Beats’ audio, the goal of which (according to HP), is to reproduce audio the way that it sounds in the studio. Reviews say that the speaker quality on the TouchPad is definitely better than the competition, but it likely won’t be replacing your home-audio setup any time soon. I’ve also read some unofficial reports that the TouchPad has extra insulation around its headphone jack to reduce static from electrical components. Unless you’re an audiophile the difference between, say, the Xoom’s headphone output, and the TouchPad’s is unlikely to matter. However, if HP can convince consumers that it has superior audio (even if it’s the same), that’s one more feature they can claim to have over competing devices. I haven’t yet read any audiophile-grade reports about the Beats audio in the TouchPad, so I won’t know if it’s truly better than other devices until I try it for myself. If I had to put my money down, I’d say that it won’t be any better than the iPhone or iPad’s audio output.
No Tabbed Browsing â€“ You’re likely familiar with tabbed browsing on desktop, tablet, and even smartphone browsers. On the TouchPad, however, each new page in the browser opens as a new browser instance, and as a new card in the multitasking menu which leads to slow browsing.
Comparisons to the current king of the tablet world, the iPad 2, are inevitable. The prices match, but the value that each represents are significantly different, with the TouchPad being on the lesser end of the value-spectrum due to lack of software optimization and lack of apps. Of course, both of these things can be be fixed over time, but at the moment it would seem that HP has some work ahead of them, and they know that.
HP is reportedly working on an update to address some early performance concerns like auto-rotation sluggishness. Hopefully they keep the updates coming so that they can optimize the performance before the TouchPad falls to next-gen Kal-El tablets.
(update coming, timing not yet official)
no tabbed browsing, websites open as new instances of browser
Recently we spent some time looking at the pros and cons of the HP TouchPad in an article published the other week (lots of great discussion happening in the comments!). The TouchPad is launching tomorrow in the US and will shortly be available in the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany (and in a number of other places in the next few months).
In the aforementioned article, I made a few predictions about the device and its software, and we’re now starting to see evidence to support them.
Third-party WebOS Devices
Honestly I think there’s a good chance that we’ll eventually see third-party WebOS devices if HP is unable to tempt people away from one closed-ecosystem (iOS) to another.
You’ll have to read the brand section of the article to fully understand how I came to this conclusion, but the gist of it is that Apple represents the ultimate in a closed-ecosystem, while Android is the ultimate in open-source (in terms of licensing Android to third-party hardware manufacturers). Trying to best Apple at the closed game would be an uphill fight for HP. Introducing third-party devices running WebOS would help HP gain traction by offering more hardware choice, something that is vital considering how lacking the TouchPad is on ports; licensing WebOS to another hardware manufacturer could possibly get a WebOS tablet, with more ports, to market more quickly than if HP tried to develop a new one itself.
Bloomberg reported yesterday that HP in in talks with partners to license WebOS for use on third-party hardware. According to the article, Samsung is among those that HP is talking with which is particularly exciting for anyone interested in WebOS (including myself!).
Rumors of a 7â€ TouchPad
In my mind, I see HP releasing a TouchPad 1.5 sometime around 6 months after the TouchPad is released that adds some important ports and to bump the performance to compete with Kal-El devices and the iPad 3 â€“ this ‘1.5’ device could come along with a 7â€ version of the tablet.
The ‘TouchPad 1.5’ may instead be fulfilled by WebOS licensing, but its clear, if you’ve ever talked to anyone who has used the Samsung Galaxy Tab, that the 7-inch tablet form-factor is much desired.
As the world`s largest PC brand, HP is now in the tablet PC arena after introducing the 9.7-inch Touch Pad, has ordered from a supplier for 400,000 to 450,000 Touch Pad tablet PCs per month, and will sometime in August launch seven-inch tablet PCs. Inventec will supply HP these two tablet PC models.
This obviously isn’t official yet so there could have been some miscommunication within the press release, but we’ll only have to wait until August to see find out for sure.
Both of these items are exciting for WebOS and we’ll be able to watch the platform develop over the next few months. Expect TouchPad reviews to begging cropping up as early as today (I’m not so secretly hoping that we hear good things from WebOS for tablets!).
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HP has recently announced that the HP TouchPad will be available for pre-order on June 19th, and will be hitting the streets in the US on July 1st. A few days later, you’ll see it officially available in the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany, followed by Canada in mid-July. They’re also planning on taking it to Italy, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore later in the year.
Sounds like they’re doing a good job with wide distribution, but my primary concern is whether or not it’ll be able to stand up to the competition and secure a strong foothold in the market for future WebOS devices. So in this article, let’s have a look at the competition, and what the TouchPad hopes to bring to the field.
The first thing we need to look at is price. HP’s biggest competitor right now is undoubtedly the iPad 2. Apple sells the iPad 2 (WiFi only) in 16/32/64GB options at $499, $599, and $699 respectively.
The TouchPad is coming out of the gate with an important characteristic; matching the iPad 2’s price. For the WiFi-only model, HP is offering 16/32GB versions at $499 and $599, but they’re lacking a 64GB option.
The TouchPad also won’t launch with 3G/4G models available, but we’ll see them at a later time.
Ideally, HP would have undercut the iPad, but with a level playing field in the price department, customers can begin to compare features. This is important as I think when put side-by-side with the iPad 2, customers are going to find some compelling reasons to go with the TouchPad.
Despite being announced more than four months ago, the TouchPad boasts some impressive features that we haven’t seen on many (if any) devices to date. Let’s look at what the TouchPad is doing right:
Murmurs of wireless charging have been floating around as possible iPhone 5 features for some time now; Palm (now acquired by HP) has actually been doing it since the launch of their Pre smartphone.
HP is bringing that technology to the TouchPad by including the necessary hardware in the back of the device, and offering what they’re calling the ‘Touchstone’ dock as an accessory.
While wireless charging is certainly convenient, it’s important to realize that the Touchstone dock is sold separately and has still not been priced. Wireless charging would set it apart from the crowd, but if the Touchstone dock isn’t priced competitively, we may as well forget about the feature. I’m hoping to see the pricing for the dock come in under $100, ideally around $50, making it an easy add-on sell at the time of purchase.
This just in: HP has announced Touchstone dock pricing at $80. Not bad, but hopefully we’ll see it come down after launch or eventually be bundled as a bonus for a period of time.
The TouchPad has a visually compelling multitasking interface. Using a card-style system, WebOS allows the user to flick through all of their currently running applications. Applications are not viewed as simple icons as in iOS, but rather as large cards that show the application in its current state.
Being able to see exactly what you were working on when deciding which application to switch back to is more valuable then it may seem. In iOS you have nothing but an icon in a recently used list to decided which applications to jump between. The problem being that some applications have redundant uses, so it can be difficult to remember exactly which application you need to return to.
For instance, if a friend shares a link on Facebook and I click on it in the Facebook app in iOS, that app will open the webpage within itself. If I switch to the Messages app to respond to a message then want to return to what I was doing, I have to remember that I was viewing a webpage inside the Facebook app, not the browser. Often times I’ll instinctively switch to the browser only to realize that I was actually viewing the website within Facebook. A visual representation of the app state would totally fix this problem, and that’s exactly what multitasking on the TouchPad will do.
Honeycomb does graphically represent multitasking apps in a limited way, but the view of other applications is relegated to a relatively small thumbnail which somewhat serves to defeat the visual functionality.
The BlackBerry Playbook is definitely the closest to the TouchPad when it comes to visual multitasking (and some might say that they borrowed quite a bit from WebOS’s multitasking scheme).
Being able to see your open apps before you start interacting with them is great, and WebOS also gives you the ability to stack related applications together to keep yourself organized.
And it’s easy to close applications… just flick them off the screen – a single gesture. To stop an application in the background on iOS, you have to double-tap the home button, then hold your finger on an icon until they shake, then tap the little X that appears at the top right of the icon. To close background applications in Android you have to press the back button until you back all the way out of the application, dig through the settings menu, or use a task manager.
Synergy is embedded in WebOS and aims to keep all of your communication from various sources in order.
For messaging, SMS and IMs from the same person are shown in one threaded conversation. This has always intrigued me as a feature. On one hand it seems intuitive and useful, but on the other, I feel like you’d be majorly confusing the other party if you were responding to something they sent in IM through SMS, or vice versa.
You can sign is with a number of sources, such as Facebook, Google, and Exchange, and Synergy will consolidate your contacts and their information into single entities in your contacts list, and if you make changes on your phone, they’ll be reflected online automatically. You’ll also be able to get email from all of these sources in one inbox.
Synergy will pull calendars from these sources into a single view, and allow you to manage personal and work calendars easily. Once again, if you make adjustments to calendars on your phone, you’ll see their online counterpart adjusted as well.
For photos, Synergy will present your online albums right on your device as though they were local. HP says they’ve currently got support for Facebook, Photobucket, and Snapfish, though they’re obviously missing two major ones – Picasa and Flickr.
Apple’s iOS does some of the things that Synergy does, but Synergy is open to developers, which means there is potential for more services and more functionality than iOS allows for.
This is probably the TouchPad’s strongest point, and it’s something that does not exist elsewhere on the market right now.
HP is going with the ‘better together’ mantra. You’ll be rewarded if you go with HP for both your tablet and smartphone needs, thanks to some tight integration between the upcoming Pre 3 (or Veer) and the TouchPad.
First, you’ll be able to pair the Pre 3 and TouchPad via Bluetooth and this will allow you to answer calls and receive and reply to SMS from the TouchPad. This is great because if you’re relaxing on the couch with your TouchPad, why should you have to get your phone (with a small screen) out of your pocket just to reply to a text? If you’ve got the big screen right with you, it seems to make much more sense to use it, and with the TouchPad, that’s possible.
Then there’s a particularly cool parlor trick that you’ll be able to pull using the Pre 3 (or Veer!) and the TouchPad. If you’re browsing a website on your TouchPad but you’ve got to run out the door, you can easily just touch the Pre 3 to the tablet and, voila, the website will be automatically transferred from the tablet to the phone. This will work between tablet and phone or between phone and tablet.
This relatively simple trick is going to ‘wow’ non-techies with it’s simplicity, and hopefully HP will extend this functionality to allow you to send any number of items between devices, from photos to maps.
Free for Devs
It’s free to begin developing for WebOS which is certainly attractive for small developers, who would otherwise have to pay a $99 iOS developer fee.
This is good for attracting the little guys but probably doesn’t have much of an impact on larger companies who will be more worried about a larger user base to distribute to rather than the existence or non-existence of a relatively small fee.
This one tends to be overlooked when it comes to tablets, but if you’re looking for a productivity device, the ability to print can be a key feature.
Because HP is one of the largest printer manufacturers, they’ve been able to built in wireless printing support for their massive connected-printer ecosystem directly into WebOS.
As we can see, the TouchPad has a lot going for it in the features department. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect however. There are some roadblocks in the way to it becoming a major player the tablet market.
HP is a big company, but currently, Apple is king of content, and Google looks to be hot on their heels with some recently announced content partnerships.
HP says that the TouchPad will be great for digital publishing, but it’s unclear whether or not they currently have the relationships necessary to compete with Apple’s iBooks and upcoming Newsstand.
Music and video is an even more challenging place for the TouchPad. HP doesn’t have an existing music or video marketplace from which users could purchase content. This means that users will need to find content elsewhere, all the while leaving HP without a cut of profits from content that might have been sold through a store of their own.
Connectors and Memory
This is a particularly troubling area for the TouchPad. The device is extremely barebones when it comes to connectors. In fact, the only connectors on the device are a single micro-USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
There’s no full-sized USB, micro-SD slot, or HDMI.
HDMI is particularly troubling as the TouchPad will be one of the only tablets without this feature. Nearly every Nvidia Tegra 2 based device features some form of display output, and even the iPad 2 can do 1080p display mirroring wirelessly or with an HDMI adapter.
Because the TouchPad doesn’t have a dock connector, there’s no room for adapter accessories (unless they are wireless, but they’d be slow BT 2.1 connections), and this could be a major problem for people who want to be able to output videos and presentations at work, or share movies and pictures at home.
Then there’s the fact that HP is only offering the TouchPad in 16/32GB iterations with no slots for memory expansion.
When potential customers look at the TouchPad next to devices like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, which can handle pretty much any USB device that you might throw at it, and has support for expandable memory, the TouchPad’s paltry connector and memory options will certainly leave much to be desired.
Despite all of the great features, the TouchPad is unlikely to succeed if it doesn’t stack up when it comes to performance.
Performance will be derived from a combination of hardware capabilities and optimized software, so let’s take a look:
Apple’s iPad 2 is using their custom A4 CPU along with a PowerVR SGX 543MP2. Most 10” Honeycomb devices are using the current industry standard – Nvidia’s Tegra 2.
The WiFi-only version of the TouchPad, on the other hand, is using a Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 dual-core CPU which runs at 1.2GHz (the future 3G/4G versions will likely use the MSM8x60 which has support for 3G/4G modems). The GPU is Qualcomm’s Adreno 220, which will offer over 4x performance when compared to the Adreno 200 GPU which is already found on devices that use the Snapdragon QSD8x50, according to Qualcomm. They also claim the the Adreno 220 will offer “console quality” graphics, but that’s very loosely defined terminology.
Qualcomm says that their APQ8060 will be able to handle 1080p video playback and capture (though the latter doesn’t matter because the TouchPad lacks a rear camera, and the front cam isn’t high resolution enough for 1080p capture). Accelerated video codecs include MPEG-4, MPEG-2, H.264, H.263, VC-1, DivX, WMV-9, Sorenson Spark, and VP6.
No other consumer device has yet been shipped with the APQ8060, but Qualcomm says that the CPU will provide a 60% increase in performance and lower power consumption than standard ARM A9 dual-core CPUs that have been seen in a number of recent devices. That stat may only be valid when the APQ8060 is clocked to its maximum 1.5GHz, however, HP is only clocking the TouchPad to 1.2GHz (likely for heat and battery life balance).
Clocking to 1.2GHz means that they’ve got some room to play with the speed down the road, and we may see a bump in clock speed at a later date, to keep the performance competitive (as we’ve seen Apple do with their iPod Touch line).
Qualcomm claims that the real advantage is the asynchronous design of the APQ8060’s two cores, which allows for each core to be clocked and powered independently. They say that this will lead to large power savings over competing chips, but the CPU is now a relatively small part of the overall power footprint – the TouchPad’s large screen is likely to be the biggest energy drainer in the system.
When it comes down to it, these figures won’t mean much unless the software is optimized to take advantage of the features afforded by the CPU and GPU. However, it doesn’t seem as though the TouchPad will be coming out of the gate underpowered, which is definitely a good thing; it could possibly lead the pack until we start seeing Nvidia Kal-El devices which are slated to begin production in August.
App Catalog & Developer Traction
HP’s application store is officially dubbed the App Catalog. Though it has been existence since June of 2009, the App Catalog has less than 7000 applications, according to Pre Central. The vast majority of which are designed for WebOS phones, not tablets.
This is in comparison to the Android Marketplace’s 200,000+ apps and Apple’s App Store which has 425,000+ apps.
An app store can make or break a platform, and building one from the ground-up, when the competition has such an insane lead, is tough.
Numbers of apps matter little to consumers, as long as the major apps are there, but in order for major apps to be created for the platform, you need developers.
No matter how popular the TouchPad is when it launches, it’s got a long way to go before reaching a similar customer base for app developers (a major factor when a developer decides which platforms to create apps for).
And because HP uses the same revenue share for developers as iOS and Android (70% of an app sale goes to the developer, 30% to the company), there is almost no incentive for a developer to create a WebOS application before an iOS or Android application when the customer base of the latter two is so much larger.
HP is a big company and they are certainly well recognized, but definitely not for tablets or mobile operating systems. Marketing is going to have to convince the mainstream that the HP TouchPad isn’t a “me too” move, but rather that the device and the ecosystem has a serious plan backing it up (along with a future roadmap).
While iOS and Android are now more or less household names, WebOS is practically unheard of in the mainstream. Combine that with the fact that HP isn’t known as a company that manufacturers tablets (or even mobile devices in general) and you’ll see that HP is looking at an uphill battle when appealing to non-techies.
HP is in a peculiar position because they are in the middleground of a model that once only had two extremes. Let me explain:
Apple uses a closed-ecosystem approach and they’re known for doing it extremely well. From their OS to their devices, everything is in Apple’s control.
Android uses a open-ecosystem in which OEMs are welcome to create numerous devices, and developers have way more freedom in creating software for the platform.
Now here comes HP with WebOS and a closed-ecosystem approach but the difference between them and Apple is that HP doesn’t have a proven track-record for making that model work.
So when a customer looks at the options, it seems likely that they’ll either go the open-ecosystem, or go with the well established closed-ecosystem – Apple.
HP is going to have to work to convince people that their closed-ecosystem model is as good, if not superior to Apple’s, if they want mainstream consumer adoption.
Honestly I think there’s a good chance that we’ll eventually see third-party WebOS devices if HP is unable to tempt people away from one closed-ecosystem (iOS) to another.
Wrapping it Up
All and all, the TouchPad will be walking out the door on the 1st of July with a decent chance to succeed.
They’ve hit the all important iPad 2 price-point and they are some really neat features to temp people toward this new player in the tablet market. On top of that, the Snapdragon CPU that the TouchPad is launching with should provide ample performance that is on par if not somewhat better than what we’re seeing on existing tablets.
In my mind, I see HP releasing a TouchPad 1.5 sometime around 6 months after the TouchPad is released that adds some important ports and to bump the performance to compete with Kal-El devices and the iPad 3 – this ‘1.5’ device could come along with a 7” version of the tablet.
What are the features that you are most looking forward to from the TouchPad? Which of it’s weaknesses concern you the most? I’d be very interested to know in the comments.
Let me mention the Veer briefly because it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. The Veer is a tiny phone (about the size of a credit card!) that will run webOS 2.2 on a 2.6â€ 320×400 screen. It has an 800Mhz CPU and the same RAM as the Palm Pre 2. While this isn’t a top-end phone (and we won’t be focusing on it too closely), it’s definitely notable because it’ll likely be priced very attractively and be appealing to users who are making the transition from dumbphone to smartphone, and also great for the casual smartphone user that doesn’t need to drop $299 on the newest Android device. I see the Veer filling the same role as Palm’s Centro: a capable and affordable device.
This device can’t be ignored just because it isn’t the flagship product. HP plans to release it in early spring and that’s not just for the sake of customers. With the TouchPad and Pre 3 not being released until this summer, HP needs to get webOS out there in a bigger way than they have in the past. They need recognition from mainstream-customers, developers, and industry media before they can go ahead with a grandiose launch of their two other webOS devices. Strong Veer sales could be a major benefactor to HP’s end game with regards to the webOS device family. And let’s not forget that the Palm Pre 2 is already out there on the market and may play a role similar to that of the Veer (having hardware/software on the market before pulling out the big guns).
HP’s Pre 3 is definitely a phone we’ll be looking at from top to bottom. It’s basic design hasn’t changed much since the original Pre. It still has a sliding QWERTY keyboard, but the keys are very much from the Palm/Blackberry era and are designed to be clicked with your nails. This might be a turn-off for some modern day smartphones users. Here’s a look at the full specs:
HP webOs 2.2
3.58â€ capacitive screen @480×800
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8×55 CPU @ 1.4GHz
512MB of RAM
5MP AF camera with LED flash (up to 720p HD recording)
Front facing VGA cam (640×480)
8GB or 16GB of internal memory. USB mass storage support
GPS, WiFi b/g/n, BT 2.1
Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and digital compass
156 grams (compare to iPhone 4: 137 grams and Droid X: 155 grams)
Mono speakerphone, dual-mic array for noise cancellation
The Pre 3 has more than just good hardware going for it — it’s designed to play nicely with HP’s TouchPad. Advancing the â€œTouchStoneâ€ technology that allowed for inductive charging on the Pre and subsequent devices, the Pre 3 and TouchPad will be able to communicate intuitively using a zero-configuration bluetooth setup. This is a lot like Google’s Chrome-to-Phone for Android devices, but HP has taken it one step further by connecting the initiation of such an information transfer to an intuitive physical gesture, which will make for a very powerful and exciting demo, especially for non-techies who will likely be enthralled by such a seamless demonstration if they were showed it in a store.
Have a look at 53:31 in this video to see how the device-device TouchStone feature works.
The Veer is also listed as being â€œTouchStone compatibleâ€ but it’s unclear whether or not it’ll be able to interact with the TouchPad in the same way as the Pre 3.
I was surprised to find that HP didn’t elaborate more on the â€œbetter togetherâ€ aspect of the TouchPad and the Pre 3. I wrote a story (back before the iPad was even announced) about the idea that a WiFi only iPad with zero-configuration tethering from the iPhone would be a winning combination. Apple didn’t decide to go this route, but I still believe that it makes a lot of sense. Is someone really going to pay for a 3G/4G data plan on the TouchPad if they’re already paying for a data plan on the Pre 3? At their event, HP did mention that the Pre 3 and Veer have mobile hotspot capability, but the idea that you could use one data plan and effortlessly tether to the TouchPad was never concretely presented.
We’ll have to wait and see if HP can gain enough developer and consumer traction with the Pre 2 (now available for Verizon pre-order) and Veer to launch a full scale Pre 3 and TouchPad assault. If it’s any indication of a potential for success, I think the tech industry is really rooting for these guys because of their history of excellent handhelds under the Palm brand. Label me as excited and hopeful for the time being, but I think the TouchPad is going to look a lot less attractive than it does today once Apple announces their iPad 2 (likely in the coming months).