When HP released its webOS-based TouchPad tablet in late June, I refused to review it, noting that it lacked the ecosystem support that makes Apple's iPad special. This isn't an issue that's unique to the TouchPad, of course: It's a problem with all of the iPad's supposed competition, and will be until the Amazon and Windows 8 tablets appear.
But my point was simple: These devices aren't really about the hardware, or the specs, or most of the other technical gobbledygook that bloggers and tech reviewers like to confuse matters with when they compare such products. More important—far more important—is that ecosystem surrounding the devices, the content such as apps, TV shows, movies, music, podcasts, audio books, ebooks, and so on that are compatible with the devices. And the TouchPad doesn't have it. Not even close.
Of course, HP has killed webOS and the TouchPad along with it. And though you might choose to mourn its passing, as I do (webOS really was something special, even though it never caught on with consumers), don't be fooled by the Crazy Eddie pricing you're seeing out there as retailers dump their remaining stock of TouchPads at fire sale prices.
Remember: The TouchPad was worthless when it was fully supported. So it's beyond worthless now, unless you don't mind being limited to basic web browsing, local video playback, and the other Dead Man Standing features that these things currently offer.
When you're a gadget and technology lover, as I am, it's hard to restrain yourself sometimes. I get that. But my advice is to look the other way now. There's a better solution in the market today—the iPad—and Amazon and Microsoft are prepping new tablet platforms that I think you'll find very interesting in the near future. This isn't the time to be buying something that looks just like an iPad but offers none of the iPad's very real advantages. And that's true at any price.