Battery Life And Real-World Benchmarks
Early on we discovered how difficult it is to benchmark tablets. Benchmarking responsiveness with a camera is the easiest approach.
Of course, normal cameras won't cut it, since they only shoot at 29 FPS. That's unacceptable if you're trying to measure precise time differences. Going the stop-watch route is no better due to human-introduced errors. That's why we're using a 1000 FPS high-speed camera to measure performance. Since, one frame equals one millisecond, it’s possible to measure timings with a high degree of accuracy.
Even though the TouchPad's third-gen Snapdragon employs a more refined processor design than its competition, the boot time measurement suggests that webOS 3.0.2 is a more bloated operating system.
This is confirmed by our browser launch time benchmark. Compared to the A500 and Xoom, it takes twice as long to open a browser window on the TouchPad. Apple's iPad 2 reigns king here with a much leaner operating system and browser. It doesn't even take a full second to launch Safari in iOS.
Input lag is the time it takes from pressing a key to the time it takes for text to appear on the screen. This tells you how fast a tablet is registering an action. Ideally, you want low input lag so that you don't feel like the tablet is stuttering as you type or click buttons. The average college student has a reaction time of 200 milliseconds for visual stimuli, so there's no perceivable lag while you're typing with the TouchPad.
Testing a tablet’s battery life tends to be highly variable unless you control the entire experience from beginning to end. Cumulatively, touch gestures don’t have a great impact on battery life. The biggest factors are CPU/GPU processing, screen brightness, volume, and Wi-Fi use. In order to accurately measure battery life, I coded a script that automatically plays MP3s at 50% volume while browsing different Wikipedia pages every 12 minutes. This benchmark is probably overkill, but it gives you an idea of a worst-case scenario.
Charging times are a double-edged sword. Ideally, you want a nice slow charge so that your battery lasts more than a few hundred cycles. Fast charge times keep you away from the wall socket longer, but in the long run they cut down on the health of the battery. Usually, the rate of charge starts to slow down somewhere in the 80% to 95% range, which is why the charging time from 0% to 10% is faster than 90% to 100%.
The one thing lacking in this review, which is also lacking in everything being written about webos, is the mention of what I consider one of the standout features of webos: The openness of the platform. With preware installed (free), you have access to thousands of patches and homebrewed apps as well as linux applications. It is possible, for example, to run a full Debian Linux in a chrooted environment (without any cracking or jailbreaking), giving access to OpenOffice, and all other x-server Linux software out there. HP/Palm is the only tablet OS developer that actively encourages the homebrew/open source community in its efforts. As a developer, it is not only the ease of development that is compelling but the huge amount of expressive and creative freedom you get. With the Apple appstore, the walled garden may protect consumers well, but also creates a completely controlled and often repressive and capricious environment for a developer. This openness is the secret sauce behind much of the loyalty of webos users. The os is a joy to use, a joy to explore, and a joy to create new code in. And unfortunately, most reviewers can't or won't take the time to understand this extremely compelling aspect of the OS.
Thank you again for the best review of the touchpad I've seen yet.
Thanks again, Andrew!
HP just announced the $100 off sale from this last weekend is now permanent.
"Effective immediately, the HP TouchPad 16GB Wi-Fi will now be available for $399.99 and the HP TouchPad 32GB Wi-Fi will now be available for $499.99"