HP TouchPad: Still better than Honeycomb

Summary:I have been using the HP TouchPad as my main tablet for a month now, and while it may say something more about Honeycomb than the TouchPad, HP's product is better than every Honeycomb tablet I have tried.

Updated: In spite of the negative early reviews I bit the bullet and picked up a 16GB HP TouchPad on the first day it was in stores. I lived through some early problems with the first webOS tablet but boldly claimed I was not going to return the TouchPad. I have been using it as my main tablet for a month now, and while it may say something more about Honeycomb than the TouchPad, HP's product is better than every Honeycomb tablet I have tried. The TouchPad is my favorite tablet for heavy use, and it is definitely still staying.

July has come and gone and the TouchPad update has not appeared even though promised by HP bigshots. This update is significant in that it is intended to deal with performance and stability issues that led reviewers to uniformly pan the TouchPad at launch. The lack of the update in July doesn't concern me too much as I believe it will be hitting the tablet pretty soon. HP has insured me they are hard at work on it and will have it out soon.

Even without the update I am experiencing no stability problems at all. Those issues were there on the first day I owned the TouchPad but went away shortly. Some speculate that the crashing reported by reviewers was likely due to the way webOS Synergy does a lot of background syncing with social networks. I don't know if that is the case, but my experience with the TouchPad has been completely different after day one with the tablet, and it is a good difference.

The TouchPad has been more stable during heavy usage than any Honeycomb tablet I have tried. That is worth repeating because my experience with webOS 3.0 is better in every way than I have had with any version of Honeycomb. No crashes, no unexplained performance issues, just a solid user experience. I suspect the performance will be even better once HP gets that OTA update to customers, but truth is I can live with the TouchPad as it is right now without it.

My experience with the TouchPad is in large part due to the good apps that are already appearing for the tablet. I am able to do everything I want to do with the TouchPad, as I find there are apps available to cover my needs. Some will complain about the lack of apps for particular tasks that they need that I don't, and it's true there aren't a lot of apps in the App Catalog yet. My particular needs are being met and that's the basis for my opinion.

I am also impressed with how active the homebrew community is for the TouchPad. Developers are already releasing some great stuff to address things they don't like about TouchPad operation. It is refreshing how HP is embracing this effort as Palm did before the acquisition.

This weekend I tested flashing the ROM on the TouchPad using HP's own webOS Doctor. This utility is designed to recover any TouchPad to a previous state, even if unresponsive. I wanted to test it even though my TouchPad was working fine, so I restored my tablet to the state it was when purchased.

The whole process was rock solid and automated. In about 20 minutes my TouchPad had been rebuilt as expected. At the end of that process (which wiped my TouchPad clean) the TouchPad connected to the servers and found my daily backups. It offered to restore all of my stuff, including all of the apps installed. I told it to go ahead and do this and in another 30 minutes my TouchPad had all of my apps, data and settings restored as it was prior to rebuilding it. The entire procedure was outstanding, and the way all device recovery methods should work.

HP still has a long way to go to get webOS where it needs to be, but I am convinced they are hard at work on it. The TouchPad meets all of my needs, and the webOS interface absolutely shines on a tablet form. These opinions of the TouchPad are my own, and I'm sure not everyone will agree with me. There are a lot of happy Honeycomb tablet owners out there. I'm just not one of them.

Update: HP has tweeted this morning that the OTA update for the TouchPad is rolling out this morning.

Related:

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Mobility, Operating Systems, Tablets

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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