The Early Good and Bad of the HP TouchPad

Apple's iPad 2 tablet currently leads the market right now, no doubt boosted by the head start given to it by the first iPad.

Competition breeds improvement, and we're happy to say that there are other worthy offerings out there in from the likes of Motorola and Samsung for Android tablets, and now added to the mix is HP's TouchPad. For the record, HP said that its product isn't trying to compete with the iPad.

Editorial Director Barry Gerber has written down his early impressions of the HP TouchPad on our new sister site Tom's IT Pro. Here are some of his findings:

The Good

  • HP has finally mastered touch. The Touchpad’s hardware and webOS operating system make for a responsive, intuitive touch experience, unlike those horrible Windows 7 touch desktops and notebooks HP unleashed on the world not so long ago.
  • Management of multitasking apps is far superior to the iPad. Card view and user created stacks of related apps, make it easy to find and open any running app. And, I really like the way you close an app, just flick it toward the top of the screen.
  • Some apps run significantly faster than on the iPad 1 – e.g. Angry Birds HD. Yea, I know, a real business app. Hey, I’ll bet there are lots of angry birds …. and pigs where you work. I attribute this in part to the Qualcomm Snapdragon dual core processor and to good programming on the part of some app developers.

The Bad

  • There is no indicator on the right side of any scrolling zone to show you how much more you have to scroll to reach the bottom. This combined with slow scrolling often led me to give up trying to scroll.
  • As with the iPad, some apps will run only on webOS phones and not the Touchpad. Unlike with the iPad, the HP App Store doesn't provide consistent information about which devices an app runs on. You have to download the app, install it and try it to find out if it will run on the Touchpad. The one PC remote control program I found in HP's App Store didn't work on the Touchpad.
  • I still haven’t found an app that uses the Touchpad’s front-facing 1.3 MP camera.

Check out the full list of good and bad, along with screenshots, at Tom's IT Pro.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • chomlee
    I hope the webos market either dies quickly or become a great competitor to Andriod and IOS. I had a Palm Pre and I really liked it. I ended up moving to an Andriod phone because it had better options in terms of the android market. It would be a shame if people invested their money into a phone or tablet, only to have the OS (or more importantly the WebOs market place) die a slow and painfull death.

    I really hope HP can use its strength to market webos properly. I think Palm just had a run of bad luck having not been adopted very well by the public. (Poor Marketing probably)
  • belardo
    I just played with the HP TouchPad in a store for about 12~15 minutes. Here is my take.

    - It feels like crap! The entire back is GLOSSY PLASTIC CRAP! In the day or so it has been in the store, it is covered in finger prints! It feels cheap, it looks cheap. Rubberized material or metal or textured plastic - NOT gloss!

    And they are AIMING for this to be sold to *businesses*?!

    - Its as thick as the iPad-1. Not a biggie...

    - Its SLOW... try rotating the device and see how long it takes the interface to figure it out. In general, it seems like it prefers certain sides to be "bottom".

    - Locked screen position: Kind of like above... lets say, you're looking through photos in landscape mode, then you want to SHARE it with someone else - facing you. On an iPad, you simply change the angle to face the other person.... with this HP thingy, you'd have to turn it around.... otherwise, they'd be looking at an upside down image.

    - Setting?! What a mess. Its Windows control panel style... a full page of icons you have to read and learn. I think they were in Alphabetical order. Anyways, you press a setting button, wait about 1~3 seconds for it to open up into the animation style of WebOS... even if its a 2 field setting. And gotta remember to FLICK it off... otherwise you'd be running a whole bunch of SETTINGS windows.

    Thats a lot of windows to go through and get back to. iPad, its a whole screen with the settings grouped by importance from top to bottom and by function.

    - PhotoViewer works... would prefer a space between photos... looks MESSY to have all photos touch each other.

    - Video player... looks okay, but the unit would not actually play anything.

    - Display quality = good. Didn't look any better or worse than iPads.
    - Interface look, more of a dark-gray version of iPad - looks good.

    - $600 for 32mb version?

    Since it was next to the ACER-500something tablet, I compared the two side by side. Like the metal body, the device looked fine. The screen was easily lower quality. Android 3.x looks good, still don't have a good opinion on the various launcher screens... ie: maybe you'd like it. It handled rotation quickly.

    I personally prefer a PHYSICAL actual HOME BUTTON... it means the whole screen is for content. Rather, it'll have to hide the home button depending on the app. Nice thing is that the Home button is always at the bottom - leftish area... Again, if its going to be on bottom, it should ALWAYS be in the corner where it'll take less aiming effort... rather than the 1~3 other icons that may or may not be there. Android 3.x default icon is ugly - even thou its rather star-trekish.
  • sceen311
    "Some apps run significantly faster than on the iPad 1 – … I attribute this in part to the Qualcomm Snapdragon dual core processor and to good programming on the part of some app developers."

    Wow, you mean a man with 2 legs runs faster then a man with just 1?
  • Netherscourge
    It ultimately comes down to apps/programs.

    Doesn't matter how amazing things are "under the hood", if you don't have enough of an app selection to play with, you're not going to impress anyone.
  • captaincharisma
    the bad: its made by HP
  • "As much as I thought otherwise, I'm glad the Touchpad supports Adobe Flash. For example, I can see the flash ads on Tom's IT Pro that are invisible on my iPad."

    Well that's a relief - I don't know WHAT I'd do if I couldn't access my favorite Advertising Service Provider! Seriously, if SEEING ADS is the big selling point for Flash then there's a serious problem...
  • belardo
    Hey... "RegularTechGuy"... works for an HP PR firm. You'll find is amazing detailed wet-your panties review on as well... word for word. Its the first one even. It usually takes a human a while to know a device and its features... hence, it reads very much like a sales pitch, oh yeah - it is.

    The posts on BB and elsewhere about "multi-tasking" is still funny. ie: I paused Angry Birds in mid-flight, did other things - even launching another game and then back to the bird about to be killed... on my iPad1.

    chomlee: I think WebOS will be here for a while, unless it fails quickly. HP has plans to put it into all their devices. WebOS, in general - looks good, needs work, but will it happen? HP says they are NOT competing against iPad, but the business market... hmmm... so that is why my local Wal-Mart has this TouchPad? That is were business people go to buy business hardware?

    The glossy plastic feels bad... and even worse when its slimy with finger prints. Its already not fun to wipe your screen, now the back too? LOL, reminds me of the CES-whatever con in which a PR person is showing off the TouchPad but REFUSED to show people the back. Where they ashamed back then?

    Unlike cover of a notebook or bezel of a big-screen TV or printers with glossy plastic, you're NOT holding it in your hands constantly.

    HP FAILS because they DID NOT think about how the device will be used. They had some idiot say "Glossy plastic will look great" and nobody did testing or had the balls to tell the guy or committee that glossy plastic feels like crap in human hands. How many high quality glossy mice or keyboards or phones do we see out there?

    If the Touchbook fails which causes HP to end plans to put it into printers, then we'll know the future of WebOS. If HP is super smart and fix the back of the device in a month or so, they may have a chance. But look what happened to the Playbook by RIM when it came out half-baked... it got roasted. :P
  • pharge
    A very very detail review from Engadget.

  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Oh, another tablet. Great. This time, from the worst manufacturer around. I'm not surprised by the cheap materials used at all, HP always did it on their PDAs and laptops. Who cares, it's just a tablet.
  • belardo
    - I'm a bit surprised the HP-PR post got deleted, quickly even. Hint to spot a paid blog: 1 post, new user, doesn't talk like a consumer. May talk lightly about the weak points. Talk about features that most people wouldn't notice or care about.

    A good point is from another site, in which someone from RIM may have sent an email to the CEOs that their marketing sucks, talking about things few people care about.

    - Meego is actually interesting to me. Too bad it looks like its headed for an early death, intel should stay out of the OS business. Nokia (any phone company) shouldn't be supporting 4 different Phone OSes, but they'll be back down to 2 (WP7 and Dumb)

    - Very OFF topic... Reviews of Opera 11.5? Anyone? FireFox lasted about 30 days before replaced by FF from a week or so ago. Yet there are features and visual differences between Opera 11.0x / 11.11 and 11.50. Of course Chrome is on Meth and should hit version 20 before the world blows up in 16.5 months - yet look the same.