Smartphones

Review - HP TouchPad

by Abhiman

The HP TouchPad is a huge tablet PC with a 9.7 inch display. The device comes in two variants – the 16 GB and 32 GB models. The HP TouchPad weighs at around 1.65 pounds. This makes this device heavier than its closest contender the iPad 2.


First Impressions


On first impressions, you can’t help but notice the black plastic. This section of the device has a pristine finish to it. You will be obliged to feel this portion of the device with your hand because of its smooth finish.


Being concavely shaped, the HP TouchPad is easy to hold. It is suited for those with big hands or small hands. Even though the device may feel hollow in your hands, at least you have a good grip over it.

The design of the device is simplistic. On the right hand side a power button is placed distinguishingly in chrome. Adjoining this hardware component is the volume rocker. There is other such external hardware such as a USB port, insert speaker grilles, 3.5mm headphone jack.

What’s great?

One of the main front-facing features of the HP TouchPad is its 9.7 inch display that touts a resolution of 1027 X 768. The HP TouchPad is powered by HP webOS. This makes it a truly multitasking device. The interface works based on a card mechanism. Every application is represented as a card.


As you work with more applications, more cards are opened. This allows you to manage the applications you are currently using more efficiently. Also, you can groups and dis-group cards. All you do is simple drag and drop operations on the user interface to achieve this.


Another strong feature of the HP TouchPad is its JustType virtual keyboard. This keyboard changes its orientation and size as per your needs. This aspect allows you to type ergonomically without being cramped for space.


Such generous proportions of keyboard size are characteristic of top end tablet devices such as iPad 2. Thankfully, the HP TouchPad has not strayed away from this ideology.


Moving on, the performance of the HP TouchPad is on par with the best tablet devices in the world. The 1.2 GHz processor positions this tablet device as one of the most powerful devices. Supporting the processor is the RAM specification of 1GB.

What’s not so great?


The external design of the TouchpadPad is average. Compared to other tablets, there is much to be improved on this device regarding this aspect. The surface is based of plastic. This makes this device a fingerprint magnet of sorts. The accumulation of fingerprints can be seen all over the device.



Even though the design is simplistic, it is not sophisticated either. There is only one button at the front of the device. There is also one port which is the microUSB port for charging and transferring data.


While the card system is a great way to manage applications that are running simultaneously, HP could have done better in this regard. Having such a large screen, the real estate of the screen is not fully utilized. Therefore, there are sections on the screen that are without any activity.


Flash is a good addition in this device. But video rendition is choppy. Embedded videos such as those that you find on a webpage don’t render well. Sometimes videos don’t fit into the screen size completely. Although Flash is a much needed addition, it is imperfect in many ways.


The browser of the HP TouchPad leaves much to be desired. At best, the browser is a typical browser. Nothing unnecessary, nothing extra. The browser program sports a typical layout.


The HP TouchPad is indeed a powerful device. But it lacks consistency. There are times when you experience latency. This is especially true when you start rotating the device. As long as you keep the device still, there is no problem with the performance.


Multitasking is a stronghold feature of this device. But multitasking can be a bottleneck. You could experience strangleholds in performance when opening and operating multiple applications. Therefore, there is no predefined theory as to why you experience lag when opening a combination of applications.

Competitors


Vs. Google Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 is a more powerful device. It has a quad core processor and 1024 GB RAM. It supports NFC (near field communication). Understandably the Nexus 7 is expensive.

Vs. Apple iPad 3

Apart from having a higher primary memory and better pixels per inch, the iPad 3 has HDMI output. This is missing from the TouchPad. The iPad 3 is expensive though.

 
Vs. Microsoft Surface (RT)

The only advantage that the Surface has is that it has a quad core processor and an impressive primary memory specification.

Vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

The Galaxy Tab 2 and the TouchPad are dual core devices. But the Galaxy Tab has plenty of features and excellent screen resolution. It has an impressive user interface technology, which is one of the best in the world.

Bottom-line


The HP TouchPad is in the league of the Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab. It does have an interesting software and hardware design, although it is definitely not path breaking. The webOS operating system is revered. Does the device matchup up to its expectations?


The good


HP webOS is a remarkable operating system. Being an intuitive OS, webOS allows for multitasking. The cards feature is indicative of this fact.



The overall design of the HP TouchPad is good. There are features that allow you social network integration. You can render 1080p videos. You can render Flash videos on the device courtesy the Flash support.


The device can be integrated with other HP or Palm products. There are inherent technologies such as touch-sharing and call-sharing. So if you have another Palm and/or HP device you can test these features. Such features are a big YES to webOS aficionados.

The Bad

While the HP TouchPad is touted as a performance-intensive device, the actual truth is different. Performance is inconsistent on the device. It is definitely not bad as some of the mediocre tablet PCs in the market. But considering its price point, the performance of this device should have been exemplary.


It is quite a contradiction that even though the device supports 1080p video rendition, there is no HDMI port to output video to a HD TV.


Even though the screen is big, it is not as bright as some of its rivals. You can view the contents on the screen from different viewing angles. But don’t expect brilliant clarity. And forget about viewing picture perfect images or videos under lights.


Verdict


The HP TouchPad has a lot of good features and some bad features. When someone walks into a store and asks “Why should I buy this device?” the answer to this question is not straightforward.



Compared to the iPad, the HP TouchPad is slightly less-premium. It has few third-party apps – something that iPad is well-known for. Even though the interface is refined, there are problems with the performance when multitasking.

Therefore you buy this device for its extra-large screen size and the webOS operation system. Does it sound like too much or too less?


Price and availability

The price for the HP TouchPad is not available in India for 2013. However, this device can be purchased at most online stores. You can also buy this device from brick and mortar electronic stores.

 

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