I won't be reviewing the HP TouchPad or any other non-Windows-based iPad competitor for that matter. Heck, maybe things will change. But for now, my view of the tablet market is that there's iPad and then ...well, that's all there is. It's not even fair to say "and then there's everything else," because even the decent-looking Android-based tablets are all lacking in very fundamental ways. And until this situation changes, I'm ignoring these flops-in-the-making. And so should you.
(As I've noted before, current Windows 7-based tablets are not interesting. But I'm looking ahead to Windows 8, of course, so some Windows tablet may happen at Casa de Thurrott this year. We'll see. I also think that any Amazon tablet entry is, by definition, interesting. But everything else? They all lack the ecosystem support that makes iPad special. Sorry.)
But HP's TouchPad: Others are looking at it, of course. We do live in a gadget-of-the-day world, after all. Here are some random thoughts from around the web.
PC Magazine (Four out of five stars, "Very good")
Pros: Top-notch, intuitive user interface. Fast performance. 9.7-inch, 4:3 screen excellent for video and photos. Synergy features make integrating with social networks and websites easy. Strong Facebook app.
Cons: App is selection is limited at launch. No rear-facing camera or video-recording capabilities. Screen sometimes needs multiple taps. Almost twice as thick as the iPad 2.
Bottom Line: With solid hardware and a user-friendly operating system based around multitasking and intuitive organization, the HP TouchPad is the best non-Apple tablet we've tested. There aren't a lot of apps yet, but Android Honeycomb tablet manufacturers should be a little nervous.
The TouchPad I've been using is downright buggy, and suffers from a shortage of key apps. Which is why my advice to anyone who wants to buy a tablet right now remains unchanged: Get an iPad 2.
One hardware department where the TouchPad is a leader is audio: It features Dr. Dre-approved "Beats" technology and stereo speakers rather than the iPad 2's single speaker. Music sounded unusually good whether I was listening out loud or over headphones.
This tablet bears the burden of great potential; it'll be a real shame if it turns out to be nothing more than yet another unsatisfying, unfinished iPad alternative.
(By the way, kudos to Mossberg for figuring out a way to promote the success of the iPad for an entire paragraph before even mentioning the words "HP" or "TouchPad." We are witnessing greatness here, people.)
This first version is simply no match for the iPad. It suffers from poor battery life, a paucity of apps and other deficits.
The TouchPad comes in two versions, with 16 or 32 gigabytes of storage and, at launch, offers only Wi-Fi connectivity, though a model with a cellular data option is planned.
The tablet’s hardware is bulbous and heavy compared with the iPad 2 or the svelte Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, an Android tablet. Worse, it’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.
I found the TouchPad’s battery life was only 60% of that of the iPad 2. In my standard tablet battery test, where I set the screen brightness to 75%, keep the Wi-Fi connection active and play local videos back to back, the TouchPad lasted just 6 hours and 5 minutes, compared with 10 hours and 9 minutes for the iPad 2. H-P claims 9 hours of continuous video playback, but that’s with Wi-Fi turned off. In mixed use, battery life was decent.