Hands-on with the HP TouchPad

We get hands-on with HP's webOS-powered TouchPad tablet

  • The HP TouchPad is HP's answer to Apple's ever conquering iPad 2. It's the first tablet to run the company's webOS operating system — software HP acquired from Palm when it bought the struggling company for US$1.2 billion in 2010.
    We've been lucky enough to get our hands on the TouchPad before its official release in Australia, which is slated for "later this year". It gave us a chance to check out the intuitive webOS software, which differs greatly from both the [[artnid:381655|iPad 2]] and the wealth of Android tablets on the market, such as the [[artnid:385399|Motorola Xoom]], the [[artnid:389504|ASUS Eee Pad Transformer]] and the [[artnid:383418|Acer Iconia A500]]. In the above image you can see the HP TouchPad's lock screen. Notifications are displayed on the screen in a small box, however you can't directly unlock into them.

  • The HP TouchPad home screen. The five apps in the launch bar at the bottom of the screen are fully customisable.
    Notifications are displayed in the top right corner, next to the Wi-Fi indicator.

  • The HP TouchPad app menu. You can't create folders in here like the iPad, however apps are split into four categories, including a favourites menu that can be customised as you wish.

  • Any third-party apps downloaded from the HP App Catalog are immediately stored in the downloads section.

  • The HP TouchPad's cards system in action. Each app opens up as a new card. Above shows that the browser, calendar and Facebook apps are currently open.

  • Cards can also be stacked on top of each other to prevent confusion and clutter. In the Web browser, each new tab opens as a separate card.

  • The HP TouchPad's keyboard is easy to type on, and we like the fact that the numbers are accessible without the need to press an options key.

  • The TouchPad browser is slick and displays Flash video.

  • The TouchPad's standard apps like e-mail are well designed and use a handy panel feature that makes use of the whole screen. Opening and extending panels is achieved by tapping a small control at the button of the screen.

  • The calendar on the HP TouchPad looks slick, and has day, week, and month view options.

  • The HP TouchPad has a dedicated Facebook app.

  • Unfortunately, the Facebook app is slow, and takes too long to load, often up to 10 seconds.

  • The HP TouchPad's memo application has a nice design, and content appears as post-it style notes.

  • The HP TouchPad's music application in action. The TouchPad speakers are the loudest we've heard on a tablet.

  • The HP TouchPad's photo gallery displays your Facebook photos, along with any photos you store on the hard drive. The absence of a rear-facing camera is disappointing.

  • The HP App Catalog is where you'll find apps for the HP TouchPad. Its currently pretty limited, though we do like how it distinguishes between apps specifically designed for the TouchPad, and webOS apps that were originally designed for the Palm Pre smartphones, and HP's upcoming Pre 3 phone.
    You can still use these smartphone apps on the TouchPad, though they will not fill the whole screen.

  • The HP App Catalog allows you to bookmark apps, and then download them at a later time.

  • The HP App Catalog also comes with a free, monthly, digital magazine called Pivot.
    It showcases the best apps available for the TouchPad, and also includes reviews, articles, and interviews covering everything to do with tablets and the HP TouchPad in general.

  • The Pivot magazine is a nice idea, and it looks great on the TouchPad's large display.

  • Apps for the HP TouchPad are fairly limited, but Spaz HD is the pick of the Twitter clients.
    It features an interface that largely matches the panel style of the TouchPad, though its still in beta and does have plenty of bugs.

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