HP TouchPad Review

HP TouchPad Review

Amazon Kindle Support

Amazon published a beta Kindle app for the TouchPad. The UI is a bit confusing; trying to figure out how to get to your library took some time, but once you figure out the UI issues, it works well. The iPad app and the Windows app works better, but this does synch your library and works well enough. My father currently has three books that I bought for him that he is reading on his TouchPad, and he gives this app a two thumbs up.

Light Gaming

I prefer to game on the PS3, but hey, I can’t exactly haul that out on a plane, now can I? Gaming options for the TouchPad are light compared to the iPad, but the normal staples are here. We like Angry Birds HD, Glow Hockey HD, Solitaire, Asphalt 6 and Coloring Book HD. The clear advantage goes to the iPad, but there are some worthy games available for the TouchPad.

Content Creation

This is where the mobile OS options fall short for me. I like to be able to create Word documents and to be able to edit and view Excel and PowerPoint files while on the go, and really am looking forward to Windows 8 ARM solutions running Microsoft Office for this requirement. However, the TouchPad stands out here over the iPad since it bundles QuickOffice. In fact, this entire review was drafted on the TouchPad using QuickOffice and the Bluetooth keyboard. While you can buy the comparable iOS app and keyboard to extend the iPad capability, and it works well, I prefer the loaded QuickOffice app for the TouchPad. Also look into Picsel SmartOffice to get more robust PowerPoint support on the TouchPad.

Remote Access to Content

The TouchPad integrates with DropBox out of the box, and if you install Box.Net’s app, you get integration with their service and a free 50GB account for as long as you own the TouchPad. This, coupled with Google Docs support, means that you have options for accessing content and making light edits while travelling. One nice way that I’ve used this feature is to create a Word document using QuickOffice on the TouchPad, saving it to DropBox and then picking it back up on the desktop or Windows 7 tablet when I return home via the automatic DropBox synching capability. I am not aware of anything as easy to use on iOS, although I am going to explore iCloud soon. Right now, I’d have to give the advantage to the TouchPad.

Overall Hardware Design

The iPad and iPad 2 have larger storage options (64GB as opposed to 32GB max on the The TouchPad integrates Skype into the phone and messaging application, so it handles Skype out of the box. Just configure your Skype account when setting up your online accounts. Before the recent webOS update, Skype video chatting was choppy. Since then, I’ve noticed a much-improved Skype experience. In addition, it is simple enough to use that my father can now Skype with us over his TouchPad. This works well for us.

The iPads are made from aluminum rather than plastic for the TouchPad, and have 3G capabilities while the TouchPad is Wi-Fi only. I prefer the design of the iPad. The iPad feels higher end. After using the TouchPad for a few months, I have concluded that it is robust and high-quality, but the advantage has to go to the iPad on this front.

I have not activated the 3G capability on either iPad in our house (I use the hotspot feature on my Android phone instead), it is nice to know that I could activate that and use the GSM capability when roaming around Europe. With the TouchPad, I am anchored to Wi-Fi only, or to my phone’s hotspot. Since I am on Verizon CDMA, I can’t use the hotspot feature in Europe. This is a minor nit, but again with GSM capability, the advantage goes to the iPad.

Now one thing that I really like is the TouchStone charger.  The TouchPad supports inductive charging, and will charge through the case when placed on the TouchStone charger.  webOS has something called Exhibition Mode that will display a photo slide show, current weather, a clock, and other information on the screen when configured, and it turns on automatically while the device is on the TouchStone charger.  This means that I essentially get a mobile photo frame and an extra clock to use, which is a distinct advantage over the iPad for me.

ITunes Support

I don’t rent much from iTunes, but I do buy blu-rays with digital copy support. These digital copies are stored in iTunes on my desktop and the iPads can synch that protected content for playback. The TouchPad can’t do that. In addition, the Roxio-based rental store available for the TouchPad is not robust at all as far as content is concerned, so the advantage goes to the iPad here.

webOS UI

The webOS UI is based on card view.  All running applications run in a card that is on the desktop and can be moved and stacked.  If you want to open up another app, just minimize the card currently running and open the other app.  The first app is still running in memory and can be switched to at any time to resume.  Closing an app just takes flicking it off the top of the screen.  This is much more intuitive to me than the iOS grid of application icons, and was much easier for my father to grasp as a newbie.  I largely prefer the approach taken by webOS here and is very similar to what showed up in the BlackBerry PlayBook that we reviewed here and here.

Overall Conclusion

The TouchPad is a very nice device. Unfortunately for HP, it ended up being largely a me-too device without enough differentiation from the iPad to ensure traction in the marketplace, so we all know what happened commercially with it. For my use case, it largely ticks the boxes, and support for flash in the browser, content creation and online synching, DLNA, Kindle and Facebook, and the webOS UI made it a compelling purchase even before the firesale. My father has one as his first foray into the internet, and the better support for flash websites made this a compelling choice for him. He was getting one for Christmas before HP cancelled the product as the webOS UI is more intuitive for a newbie than iOS. I use mine every day and will probably use it more than the iPad that I have at home, and my father uses his every day as well. This was a good purchase for us.

At full price, the iPad is a better choice for most people. At $149 firesale pricing, this is a no-brainer. At $250 on eBay, I’d take the plunge. I give this a 4/5 Recommended on our rating scale.

4-Black

[button link="http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2011/09/02/blackberry-playbook-16gb-review/" style="info" window="yes"]BlackBerry PlayBook Review Part One[/button]

[button link="http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2011/09/07/playbook-review-update-road-warrior-edition/" style="info" window="yes"]BlackBerry PlayBook Review Part Two[/button]

[button link="http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2011/09/27/why-the-hp-touchpad-is-deader-than-a-doornail/" style="info" window="yes"]Why The TouchPad Is Deader Than A Doornail[/button]

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Jim – sounds like at that price it’s worth having – pity they all went!

    • http://twitter.com/jam3ohio Jim McCarthy

      HP partners are selling them for $249, $149 if you also buy a qualifying laptop or desktop.

  • Gordon Currie

    I signed up to be a WebOS developer a month before they announced the death of the TouchPad. HP insisted that the market for WebOS wouldn’t be going away, but it’s been many months and I don’t see any signs of life. Pity, since WebOS is actually very cool.