HP’s TouchPad tablet: The reviews

July 11, 2011

Hewlett-Packard’s decision to enlist funnyman Russell Brand to promote its new TouchPad tablet in a series of online videos seems to have been the right one. People love the ads. Whether consumers will warm to the device itself remains to be seen, though.

HP pitches the TouchPad as a workhorse that’s a boon to productivity and a marvel of multitasking, but which can also hold its own as an entertainment device. The Wi-Fi enabled tablet, which hit U.S. shelves on July 1 (at $500 for 16 GB model, $600 for 32 GB), is up against some serious competition from Apple’s standard-bearing iPad models and a stable of well-regarded Android alternatives.

HP is smart to trumpet the TouchPad’s ability to play Web video and multimedia formats such as Adobe Flash, which Apple has refused to support on its devices despite demands from its own customers. But reviews of the 9.7-inch tablet, which runs on Palm’s webOS mobile software, could so far be characterized as tepid at best. Overall, they seem to suggest that while HP should be praised for some of the TouchPad’s features, it falls short on too many other crucial elements. Here’s a sampling of what’s been said so far:

Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal: “Despite its attractive and different user interface, this first version is simply no match for the iPad. It suffers from poor battery life, a paucity of apps and other deficits.”

Computerworld: “The TouchPad is caught in a no-man’s land for tablets. On the plus side, it supports full multitasking, plays Flash and has the best onscreen keyboard around, making typical tablet tasks easier. However, it’s also chunky, overweight and lacks the apps that are needed to compete with the iPad.”

Engadget: “The shortage of apps is a problem, no doubt, but that will change with time. What won’t change is the hardware, and there we’re left a little disappointed. Holding this in one hand and either an iPad 2 or a Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the other leaves you wondering why you’d ever be compelled to buy the HP when you could have the thinner, lighter alternative for the same money. Meanwhile, the performance left us occasionally wanting and, well, what is there to say.”

David Pogue, New York Times: “The WebOS is beautiful . . . It’s graphically coherent, elegant, fluid and satisfying. That, apparently, is the payoff when a single company designs both the hardware and the software.”

“Much of the TouchPad’s promise remains theoretical; all kinds of stuff is “coming soon,” including music or movie stores and a Mac/Windows utility that will copy your computer’s music files to the tablet,” Pogue continued.

CNet: “The TouchPad would have made a great competitor for the original iPad, but its design, features, and speed put it behind today’s crop of tablet heavyweights . . . At the end of the day, the TouchPad feels like a well-orchestrated competitor to the original iPad and not the forward-thinking alternative we had hoped for.”

Boy Genius Report: “Today, the TouchPad is a solid tablet that definitely exhibits what I have come to call tabletitis. It is a jack of all trades, master of none, that shows tons of potential but isn’t quite there yet. The hardware is lacking and the software needs a shot of adrenaline.”

One comment

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no… it is not very hard to understand you need to have an attractive hardware with working operating system… it looks like HP forgot to make an attractive hardware… this is not pc business…

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