The reviews are in. HP’s webOS-based tablet has been in the hands of the tech sites and blogs for a few days, and they are ready to share their opinions. Does the TouchPad deliver? Is it the iPad killer HP wants it to be?
Read on after the jump to find out:
Pogue (NYT): No direct mention of screen quality.
Mossberg (WSJ): No direct mention.
Engadget: As we said earlier, it’s a 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768 IPS panel up front that matches the iPad 2 pixel-for-pixel and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to other important aspects of viewing. Contrast, viewing angles, and brightness all impress, delivering plenty of light for bright or dark rooms and angles wide enough to make sharing with a friend a cinch.
Gizmodo: No direct mention.
CrunchGear: The TouchPad has the same screen pixel density as the iPad 2 but makes more of all of that real estate thanks to the clever WebOS interface.
iSmashPhone Verdict: Most didn’t mention the screen quality, which probably means that it’s about average. Engadget did note that it’s similar to the iPad 2. Overall, seems that it does its job.
Pogue (NYT): The TouchPad‚Äö√Ñ√¥s battery life lasts only about eight hours on a charge (the iPad gets 10 hours).
Mossberg (WSJ): It suffers from poor battery life. I found the TouchPad‚Äö√Ñ√¥s battery life was only 60% of that of the iPad 2. In mixed use, battery life was decent. (iSmashPhone Note: Mossberg‚Äö√Ñ√¥s battery test usually involves setting the screen brightness to 75 percent, keeping wifi on and playing stored video until the battery depletes.)
Engadget: Battery life according to HP is 9 hours for continuous video playback, and in our test (WiFi on, Bluetooth off, video looping) we came close to that: just over eight and a half hours.
Gizmodo: And battery life, with heavy use, I was getting around 7 hours.
CrunchGear: In short, battery life is on par if better than almost any tablet you can name although the variability I saw could put a damper on longer media playback. However, I saw nothing alarming or particularly notable when it came to battery life, at least in the limited testing I was able to do.
iSmashPhone Verdict: CrunchGear says it’s okay. The rest say it’s a little less than the iPad (10 hours). Mossberg ran is usual test and said it’s about 60 percent that of the iPad 2.
Pogue (NYT): It supposedly has a blazing-fast chip inside, but you wouldn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t know it. When you rotate the screen, it takes the screen two seconds to match ‚Äö√Ñ¬∂ Apps can take a long time to open ‚Äö√Ñ¬∂ Animations are sometimes jerky, reactions to your finger swipes sometimes uncertain.
Mossberg (WSJ): I found the TouchPad grew sluggish the more I used it.
Engadget: We’re having a bit of a hard time quantifying the performance of the TouchPad because, well, it should be fast with its 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor paired with 1GB of RAM, but too often left us waiting.
Gizmodo: And there’s no more guaranteed way to make something feel like a train wreck in slow motion than to make it run like it’s a train wreck in slow motion. Apps can take foreeeeever to launch, even with just one or two cards open. (I once waited 20 seconds for screen settings to launch.)
CrunchGear: The TouchPad exhibits poor performance under pressure. I hate to say it, but far too many times the TouchPad bogged down while performing standard tasks.
iSmashPhone Verdict: Everyone seems to agree here. It’s slow. Too slow. It slows down over time. Perhaps a firmware update is in order.
Pogue (NYT): WebOS also plays Flash videos on the Web, though sometimes jerkily. Android tablets can do that but, the iPad can‚Äö√Ñ√¥t.
Mossberg (WSJ): The Web browser generally worked well, but Flash was uneven. Most Flash videos played fine, but some froze or stuttered badly, even on a fast Internet connection. A site written entirely in Flash wouldn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t even load.
Engadget: Browsing is reasonably snappy most of the time, but we encountered some pages that just seemed to take a particularly long time to load. Our site, full of graphics and Flash, loads quickly. The Gmail site, however, takes ages and ages… and ages. Online video plays in the browser, but rarely well.
Gizmodo: It’s funny that the TouchPad is the third tablet platform to run Flash, and it’s also the third tablet on which Flash runs like garbage‚Äö√Ñ¬∂ The browser is otherwise solid, falling somewhere between Android browsers and mobile Safari.
CrunchGear: The browser is quite capable and rendered almost every website without issues. It supports Flash 10.1 and can display complex animations but Flash games are a different story.
iSmashPhone Verdict: The browser was said to be nice, except (surprise!) when running Flash. Everyone seems to agree that this thing chugs when it comes to Flash. CrunchGear was a bit nicer about it, but they didn’t exactly say it was great.
Pogue (NYT): It has a front camera for video chatting but, unlike its rivals, no camera on the back.
Mossberg (WSJ): It‚Äö√Ñ√¥s missing some key features common on the other tablets, like a rear camera or even a camera app for taking videos and still pictures. It has a front camera that can be used only for video chats.
Engadget: Skype support is built in to the TouchPad and webOS 3.0, which is good, because otherwise you’d have nothing at all to do with that 1.3 megapixel camera up front.
Gizmodo: No direct mention.
CrunchGear: The device has a 1.3 megapixel front camera and no rear camera. There is no camera application (that I could find) although you can make video calls through Skype. Photography is clearly not a priority with this device.
iSmashPhone Verdict: In all fairness, a back-facing camera isn’t all that useful (in my opinion, but this isn’t about my opinion). Still, everyone points out that it lacks that rear camera and, more importantly, a camera app of some sort.
Pogue (NYT): It‚Äö√Ñ√¥s the same size as the iPad, but it‚Äö√Ñ√¥s 40 percent thicker (.75 inches thick) and 20 percent heavier (1.6 pounds) ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ a bitter spec to swallow in a gadget you hold upright all day long.
Mossberg (WSJ): The tablet‚Äö√Ñ√¥s hardware is bulbous and heavy compared with the iPad 2 or the svelte Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, an Android tablet.
Engadget: A concave shape makes it comfortable to hold for those of us with bigger hands, more so than the flat profiles of those more slender machines mentioned above, (Referring to the iPad 2, Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Xoom) but that comes at the expense of it feeling a bit hollow.
Gizmodo: The back shell‚Äö√Ñ√Æglossy, onyx and plastic‚Äö√Ñ√Æimplies lightness. It’s not. The way the rounded edges scatter light implies thinness. It’s not. But it is smooth and comforting and high quality, even if it is also slick and dense, a potentially deadly combination.
CrunchGear: In all, the TouchPad is about the same size as almost any other major name tablet except the iPad 2. It is as thick as the Xoom and the original iPad but the bulbous shape makes it feel a bit bigger. It isn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t very heavy ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ 1.6 pounds compared to 1.3 pounds for the iPad 2 and 1.6 for the Xoom ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ but it ‚Äö√Ñ√∫feels‚Äö√Ñ√π heavier and heftier.
iSmashPhone Verdict: The reviewers all seem to agree–it’s heavy. It’s fat compared to the rivals. But it looks nice.
Pogue (NYT): You have a choice of four key heights. That is, you can make the keyboard larger or smaller, depending on your finger-fatness ratio.
Mossberg (WSJ): Typing on the TouchPad‚Äö√Ñ√¥s virtual keyboard‚Äö√Ñ√Æthe first in a webOS device‚Äö√Ñ√Æwas a mixed bag‚Äö√Ñ¬∂
The keyboard has five rows ‚Äö√Ñ¬∂ spares you from the iPad‚Äö√Ñ√¥s tedious switching of keyboard layouts to … you can shrink or enlarge the keyboard, a nice touch.
Auto-correct didn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t insert the apostrophe in some common ‚Äö√Ñ¬∂ and it lacks the common feature that inserts a period when you hit the space bar twice.
Engadget: The on-screen virtual keyboard is reasonably roomy, giving you the full QWERTY experience with a full row of number keys in either landscape or portrait ‚Äö√Ñ¬∂ we do wish the keyboard would automatically insert apostrophes when typing things like “wont” or “dont.”
Gizmodo: But for every detail that Palm gets right‚Äö√Ñ√Æthe re-sizable keyboard that’s pretty nice to type on‚Äö√Ñ√Æit blows something else, like not having a double-tap spacebar shortcut for periods.
CrunchGear: No direct mention.
iSmashPhone Verdict: Everyone praised the number keys up top. Nice move, HP. Though they did say that it doesn’t add a period after double-spacing or add in apostrophes in words like “won’t” and “don’t.”
Pogue (NYT): The TouchPad doesn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t come close to being as complete or mature as the iPad or the best Android tablets ‚Äö√Ñ¬∂
But there are signs of greatness here.
Mossberg (WSJ): At least for now, I can‚Äö√Ñ√¥t recommend the TouchPad over the iPad 2.
Engadget: You have to put your heart and two decades worth of Palm obsession ahead of any buying rationale. With such compelling alternatives readily available, that’s asking rather a lot.
Gizmodo: TouchPad is so close, closer than anything else, to being good. But it’s also very, very far from it. Look, give this thing six months. It could be amazing. If it’s not by then, well, I guess that says everything that needs to be said.
CrunchGear: WebOS is a capable third (or fourth) entrant into the mobile OS race. As with Duckie, however, I worry that the average Molly Ringwald will go with the popular Blaine rather than the loyal and arguably better school nerd. I don‚Äö√Ñ√¥t agree that the TouchPad will know WebOS out of the park but HP had to do something with its intellectual property and there‚Äö√Ñ√¥s no reason they won‚Äö√Ñ√¥t support this going forward.
iSmashPhone Verdict: Overall, it’s not the new tablet to beat. As with many of the tablets we’ve seen lately, everyone says it shows promise, but it’s not ready for prime time.
Still Not the iPad Killer
When HP went on…and on…and on during their press event introducing the TouchPad, it seemed to show promise. They had the magic of Palm’s OS and some great interactivity between their smartphone and tablet. Turns out it didn’t deliver. Not yet, at least.