The HP TouchPad came and left without a warning. But for those lucky few who got their hands on one, congratulations! For $99, this device is worth every penny.
I had the opportunity to test one out and I have to say, WebOS on a tablet is an awesome operating system! Apps are displayed in a card-like style on the screen. You can swipe left and right to open the app you want. Apps can also run in the background so you can return to them exactly where you left off. And if you want to completely close an app, simply tap on it and swipe up, and it goes away. The animation is a lot of fun.
As far as I could see, the apps ran very smoothly on the device. The user interface is easy to use, beautiful on the eyes, and feels complete. My only concern is the lack of apps in the HP App Catalog. There are some basic must-have apps like Angry Birds, Pandora, YouTube, Kindle, and Facebook by HP. But there are also no great photo editors, Twitter, Netflix, drawing/artistic app, etc. I think the types of apps available will make or break a device. One thing that is interesting is, it didn’t come with a default Camera app. I had to find one in the HP App Catalog and download it. I thought that was strange, but it could have been the installation that came with my HP TouchPad.
Good Hardware for the Price
As far as the hardware goes, it is very nice and decent, especially for the price. It is a bit thicker and heavier than the current popular tablets on the market. The back is also made of a slippery plastic that captures fingerprints and smudges galore (unless it’s just me who has super-oily fingers!). I have this problem with the screens of my other tablets, but seeing them on the back of the device is like a double whammy. If I try cleaning the back, I end up getting smudges on the screen. They should have gone with a matte finish instead of a glossy one for the back.
There is only one camera — the front-facing camera. If you wanted to take a photo of something other than yourself, this turns out to be a little bit difficult. But the photos do come out pretty clear.
There is also a button at the bottom of the front screen, let’s call this the “Home” button. Pressing on this will take you out of the current app and display all the apps in card-view. I ended up using this button a lot to test out the software, and I found it to be too small and narrow. I had to really tap it with the tip of my finger.
If you’re holding it in landscape more, there are two speakers on the bottom side. One is on the left, and the other on the right, which feels like a mini surround-sound system when you’re playing a game or music.
To put music on your HP TouchPad, you need to transfer it via USB using the HP Play software. Of course, you need to do this all from your computer, not the tablet. I find this step very cumbersome. A music store of some sort is greatly needed.
Although there’s no music store, there is a small HP Movie store where you can purchase or rent Movies and TV shows. TV shows usually cost $1.99 an episode, and movies range from $9.99 – $19.95 to own, or $3.99 or less for 24-hour rental.
The apps run pretty smoothly on the device. And the user interface of most of the apps are well thought out. The one thing I did notice about the software though is that it’s not as responsive when you turn the tablet. It does take a few seconds for the screen to render again in the correct position when you change it.
A Great Deal at $99
Overall, it has a wonderful WebOS user interface, great set of speakers, great price for what you get. On the downside, it does weigh more, feels really thick when holding, lacks apps, lacks a music store. It is also wifi-only, which is perfectly fine.
Considering you can’t purchase a decent netbook for less than $100, this HP TouchPad is a fabulous deal. I can see it being used in academic environments or in the home for light web surfing and gaming. This would however be a short-term buying decision though. My main concern is how long the support for WebOS will last with HP pulling out of the tablet industry.
HP.com · $99.99 (16 Gigs), $139.99 (32 Gigs)