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HP TouchPad consensus: nice platform, shame about the ecosystem

by Scott Bicheno on 30 June 2011, 12:58

Tags: Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

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Nice start, but needs to be even better

Computing giant HP - with webOS - is the last of the major mobile platforms to take the plunge into tablets, bar Microsoft if you don't count full-fat Windows as a mobile platform, which I don't. The HP TouchPad goes on sale in many markets tomorrow, but won't make it to the UK until 15 July.

With Apple being so far ahead of the rest of the market with the iPad, there was always an argument for the chasing pack to take their time in order to ensure they get it right. So far, however, the trend seems to have been for the likes for Android and BlackBerry to take their time, but still fall short of a truly competitive offering. Maybe the latest of all will do better.

As ever it's what the market thinks that matters, so to get a sense of how the TouchPad we had a look at what some prominent reviewers made of it.

The Daddy of US tech reviewers is Walt Mossberg of the WSJ. He found the interface provided by webOS 3.0, which has been written specifically for tablets, to be a joy to use, and there were some pleasing unique features. However he found it to be ‘bulbous and heavy' compared to some other tablets and found performance became sluggish over time.

The other US heavy-hitter is David Pogue of the NYT. His first moan, apart from the lateness of the launch, is the small number of apps (300) although he does concede there are even fewer tablet-specific ones for Android.

He too is unimpressed with the performance, saying "It supposedly has a blazing-fast chip inside, but you wouldn't know it. When you rotate the screen, it takes the screen two seconds to match - an eternity in tablet time." This is quite surprising as we'd expect the dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ 8060 SoC to be pretty competitive, so maybe it's webOS's fault.

Tech blog Slashgear continues the theme, saying webOS 3.0 is polished, but that its hardware is uninspired. The biggest challenge HP faces, according to Slashgear, is getting developers to support the platform, and reported plans to licence the software to other OEMs may help to grow its ecosystem.

Over in the UK Pocket-Lint gave the TouchPad four out of five stars, saying it will be perfect for many people. But the biggest negative is, once more, the ecosystem, with the reviewer questioning how quickly we'll see great tablet-specific apps.

Finally TechRadar served up one fewer star, calling webOS "a genuinely impressive operating system," but due to a number of minor niggles struggles to find and answer to the question: "why would I chose the HP TouchPad over any of the other tablets?"


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