2 days with my HP TouchPad

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Let me start by saying that I loved Palm. I had a few of the first palm including the first wireless palm. I would love going to garage sales and using my palm to look up the prices of items on the web. It was big, had an antenna that you would have to slide up, and it was extremely slow.

I looked at the Pre when it first came out, but ultimately ending up buying an iPhone when it was time to switch phones.  I love my iPhone, and for that matter both the first generation iPad (@mamasnark has one), and my second generation iPad. I have never owned a Android device (although I would love to). So this review (if you can call it that) is based on my observations and mostly comparing it with the iPad, and a little on the blackberry (since I also own a blackberry touch device).

I bought the device for $149 during the fire sale last weekend. The device feels solid although slightly cheaper than both generation iPads. It is mostly made of plastic, and not metal and glass. I don’t know if it is due to the cheaper construction, but I feel that it is less likely to break (I broke an iPad 2 by dropping about 2 feet). So far I have only dropped it 2 times (well the kids dropped it once), and both times the chunk of plastic has not even shown a dent. It is much thicker than the iPad 2, but I don’t have a problem holding it.

So first the bad news and then I’ll go into the parts I like:

1. It takes a much longer to start, and in general it feels a lot slower than the iPad 2. It sputters at time on random web pages, scrolling, and other activities. It is worse on some applications. For example the only useful twitter is extremely slow. Sometimes you get an sign that it is working and you wait, but other times it just freezes. The freezing gets worse as the day progresses which forces you to restart the device (and wait the longer restart times).

2. The tapping seems less precise, and I have not figured out a way to scroll through the letters of a word. I end up tapping 3 or 4 times to get the cursor on the correct place, and sometimes navigating to the wrong place because I tapped the wrong button.

3. The choices of applications are rather limiting. I don’t really care if there is only one choice, but there are applications I use on my iPad that have no equal on the touch. Words with Friends, Chess with Friends, Netflix, Time Warner Cable and an ePub reader are all missing (and many others). The first four are nice to have I guess, but not having a ePub reader means I can’t read any of my tech books on it or read books I have download from the library.

4. Although it promises the entire web (since it does Flash), it is not necessarily true. Many major sites don’t render correctly, and a lot of flash content doesn’t seem to run or runs very slowly. For example tried to listen to some clips yesterday on NPR and was not able to use the web widgets to control the volume. I understand this is not HP’s fault, they can’t control what people do on every website, but I don’t have the same problem on any of my computers with the same widget.

5. The front camera does not seem to take pictures. Just videos for Skype. I did see an app to take pictures, but it isn’t free (I’ll probably end up buying it).

Now the good news:

1. It tries to keep all your data together. It searches across all your items, and not just things on your device (it is configurable). So it will search Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, your local files, and files on your box.net all at the same time. It will sync your contact and calendar across all the devices and sites if you want. It will also notify you of changes on all sites or local files. It will let you know that somebody left a comment on Facebook. I guess iOS does the same thing, but webOS does it all in one place instead of constant modal notifications.

2. Although the browser isn’t perfect it is nice to be able to see some flash content.

3. You can store files locally on the device, and you are able to move files from internet web sharing applications into the device (it comes with 50gig of box.net). It will open those files if the app to open them is available. For example I am able to drop a word document on my box.net account, and then open it on my webOS device. Once downloaded on to the Touch, I don’t even have to be online to view it.

4. HP now sells accidental damage replacement insurance for $50.


At $149 dollars (for 32gig) or $99 (for 16gig) it is a great piece of hardware. If I were buying just one device and without being able to view ePub documents I would probably purchase a Nook Color instead (you can even install Gingerbread if you get bored with the custom android). At the original price with the current software available, I would have bought an iPad or an Android tablet instead.


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