After months of speculation and numerous leaks, the HP TouchPad is finally official. New webOS hardware is long overdue, and while the phones they announced aren't exactly what we were hoping for, the TouchPad exceeds my expectations. Throughout all of the rumors and speculation, I have fought with myself over whether a webOS tablet would be worth my money. Without having any confirmed specifications and it essentially being vaporware until this afternoon, it was hard to make a definitive decision. Now that it's here and I know more of what I'm dealing with, I can honestly say that I'm strongly considering a TouchPad.
From day one, webOS's Achilles heel has been the lackluster hardware. I have owned the original Palm Pre and a Verizon Pre Plus, neither of which impressed me. The software, on the other hand, was as functional as it was pleasing to use. Gesturing my way between applications and rarely experiencing lagginess, I fell in love with webOS. The UI is extremely clean and simple, and after finally getting used to all of the advanced gestures, I found it hard – not impossible – to go back to BlackBerry or Android.
Though I'll admit that the lack of applications was a little bit of a hurdle to get over at first, it made me realize how much I rarely used many applications. Having a decent Twitter client, Facebook application, a great music player, and a good web browser is all I really need in a phone; though my wants tend to surpass my needs in some cases. When it comes to tablets – I've been carrying an iPad almost every day since its initial release – I find my needs to be much of the same.
One of the bigger arguments against the TouchPad is that webOS does not have content streaming like Netflix and Hulu Plus yet. Considering I spend most of my time in my apartment, I typically watch Netflix on my TV. I think I have watched two episodes of Lost and a movie on my iPad using Netflix in roughly 10 months. I mainly use my tablet for knocking out mass emails, browsing the web, listening to Pandora, and well, tweeting. These are all easily done on my iPad and with Android. The problem is, I like to do all of this at the same time.
Multitasking on the iPad is present, but that's about it. It isn't intuitive and sometimes you lose your place in applications. One thing webOS does very well and was built around is multitasking. Though you may not be able to simultask from your TouchPad, I can confidently say that multitasking on it will be much more pleasing than on any iOS or Android device. Judging by the gesture area at the bottom of the TouchPad and how webOS typically works, I'm guessing that switching between applications will be as simple as swiping your finger left-to-right (or the reverse) in that area, or tapping for card view. That 1.2GHz dual-core processor should make things pretty snappy as well.
It also appears as if HP has focused webOS around sharing media more easily, too. Whether it be through the cloud, with the Touchstone, or with another webOS device, sharing on webOS may hold the answer to my media sharing woes. Not to mention, the simplicity of having all of your information pulled down from the could as soon as you log in with your Palm Profile. The ecosystem they are creating with their devices is brilliant to say the least. Now, if they could just release a phone that piques my interest...
Unfortunately, I can't make a decision just yet. HP didn't see it fit to disclose the price of the TouchPad today, and that's undoubtedly the biggest deciding factor. Until a few days ago, I was extremely excited – possibly as excited as I've ever been over any technology – for the Motorola XOOM. That is, until Moto revealed the completely bogus price tag of $800 for their tablet. If the TouchPad is a dime over $600 (not including taxes, obviously), I can't see myself buying it.
In addition to not having a set price, there is no official release date. HP claims the Wi-Fi version of the TouchPad (the one I have my eye on) is set to launch in the "summer" of this year. That's still a few months down the road; several Android tablets are bound to be announced by then, and likely to launch before summer rolls around. I'm not sure I can hold out that long, not as impatient as I get with technology.
I am genuinely excited for the TouchPad to release. It's been a while since I've been excited over anything from HP with webOS. Having been around the block with Android and BlackBerry, detouring with Windows Phone 7, and carrying my iPad everyday, I'm ready for a change. A webOS tablet would be a welcome one. I just hope the price is right.