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.”