Requiem for the HP TouchPad: Time to move on

Summary:The HP TouchPad was the most innovative tablet to come along since the original iPad. HP seems poised to pull the plug on the platform, so it is time to move on.

I am a tablet guy by nature, and when the HP TouchPad came along I was excited to have an alternative to the crush of Android tablets that I have used. The TouchPad didn't work as well out of the box as it should, but free homebrew apps turned it into a stellar performer.

See also: Overclocking the HP TouchPad cranks up the speedHP TouchPad: Everything you want to knowBest homebrew patches for your HP TouchPad10 apps for your new HP TouchPadHP TouchPad: Homebrew patches that improve productivity

The webOS interface is well designed for tablet use, and the hardware is quite good. Then HP pulled the plug on the TouchPad (and all webOS hardware), and the writing was on the wall. The platform has essentially been orphaned by HP, and it is time to move on.

HP is still supporting the TouchPad and webOS, but with key employees leaving the company that is not likely to continue much longer. The staff working on webOS for HP must be constantly looking over their shoulders for the word to shut it down. As a customer, that's not where I want my device to be in the system. Killed, pushed to the side, and waiting for complete shut-down.

I still find the TouchPad to be an outstanding tablet, better than Android slates for my needs. It is with conflicted emotions that I realize it is time to move on, but I see no purpose served by using a canceled device as my main tablet. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

The estimated million buyers of the TouchPad are in the same boat, and many of them are putting Android on their tablets. That may be the best path for owners to take who don't want to get left out in the cold by HP. That's not an option for me; I already have a few Android tablets around here. The big draw for me with the TouchPad was the webOS system, I have no desire to put Android on it.

All webOS devices use an account with HP to interact with the backup server and App Catalog. That account relies on the Palm servers running and actively supporting devices. There is no reason to believe that HP will shut these servers down anytime soon, but an orphaned platform isn't going to get much attention for updates or app support. The homebrew community is already stepping in to make sure devices still work even if HP shuts the servers down at some point. And they most assuredly will, when they pull the plug for good..

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Mobility, 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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