HP's TouchPad Battles It Out With WebOS
In the family of mobile operating systems, Apple’s iOS is the eldest child with a wall full of trophies, while Google’s Android is its younger sibling, trying to prove to dad that iOS didn't get all of the good genetics.
Yet, there is a forgotten middle child: HP’s webOS. First developed by Palm as a successor to Palm OS, HP’s purchase of Palm didn't create as many opportunities for market adoption as originally anticipated. Since webOS’ introduction in 2009, we've only seen a handful of devices with the company's mobile operating system. Within the same period, multiple manufacturers collectively launched a slew of Android-based phones.
The tablet scene also reflects this disparity. Although Motorola’s Xoom was released in February 2011, it represented the first real threat to Apple’s iPad. Previous Android-based tablets all relied on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which was originally designed for smartphones. The Xoom introduced us to Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), a version of Google's mobile operating system specifically optimized for the larger-screen tablets.
HP is arriving to this party a little late. Its solution, dubbed the HP TouchPad, is an attempt to carve out a portion of the growing tablet market by offering a second alternative to iOS.
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"