HP TouchPad: Hands-on impressions

Summary:The HP TouchPad is available today and this morning I headed to my local Best Buy and bought a 16GB model. I have been testing the TouchPad today, and offer these first impressions of what I like and what I don't so far.

The HP TouchPad is available today and this morning I headed to my local Best Buy and bought a 16GB model. The unit was $499, and the 32GB model would have set me back $599. I chose the cheaper model as I am not sure how well the TouchPad will fit into my mobile lifestyle, and I wanted to keep the cost down. I have been testing the TouchPad for a few hours, and offer these first impressions of what I like and what I don't so far.


Image Gallery: 16GB HP TouchPad available today
Image Gallery: Charge
Image Gallery: Charge

Specs:
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core, 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Display: 9.7-inch, 1024x768, IPS, multi-touch
  • Video formats supported: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264
  • Camera: 1.3MP front-facing
  • Battery: 6300 mAh lithium polymer
  • Speakers: stereo, with Beats Audio technology, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Size: 9.45 x 7.48 x 0.54 in, 1.6 lbs.

The TouchPad has an attractive black design with rounded corners and solid build quality. The back is plastic, and those who prefer metal casings will likely find this to be too "plasticky" in feel. I like it fine, and prefer plastic for tablets for the lighter weight. The TouchPad feels heavy in the hand at 1.6 pounds, so it's a good thing HP went with lighter plastic construction.

The webOS user interface is a joy to use, and is much more intuitive and consistent in operation than Honeycomb on Android tablets. The card metaphor for handling running apps is a great fit for the tablet screen, and adds utility as the cards are updated in real-time. It is possible to read new emails in the minimized card view without opening the email app.

The TouchPad software is not as smooth as it needs to be, with occasional lags affecting the otherwise fluid user experience. The system has spontaneously rebooted on me once, and once I had to manually reboot the tablet due to the Skype app getting out of control. I will spend more time detailing the user experience in future coverage, when I have more time on the TouchPad.

Pros

  • Attractive design with nice curved surfaces
  • User interface is well-suited for the tablet screen
  • Bundled apps are good and offer good utility out of the box
  • Outstanding web browser
  • The center button lights up gently when notifications arrive and the screen is off

Cons

  • Heavy in the hand
  • System has occasional lags that impact user experience
  • Have experienced two reboots in a few hours
  • Lack of apps in the app store. The apps that are available are quite good and help deal with the lack of apps.

The HP TouchPad is the first tablet running webOS, and this platform shows real promise in the short time I have been using it. I expect HP to deal quickly with issues affecting performance, and developers to crank out apps to augment the few available. I am looking forward to getting a Touchstone dock making wireless charging possible, a nice accessory that was not available in retail outlets today.

See related coverage:

Topics: Tablets, Hewlett-Packard, Mobility

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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