Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

Summary: An interesting report has emerged from the postmortem for the TouchPad, the webOS-based tablet that HP dumped last week as part of a surprise pivot for the company away from consumer products. According to The Next Web, members of the webOS team have claimed that the hardware HP chose to build the TouchPad around was slow and old -- based on an existing slate design HP had lying around that webOS was simply built into.


An interesting report has emerged from the postmortem for the TouchPad, the webOS-based tablet that HP dumped last week as part of a surprise pivot for the company away from consumer products. According to The Next Web, members of the webOS team have claimed that the hardware HP chose to build the TouchPad around was slow and old -- based on an existing slate design HP had lying around that webOS was simply built into.

As proof, the team reportedly ran the same version of webOS on an Apple iPad 2, which ran it "significantly faster" than the TouchPad hardware. It even ran faster as a Web app in the iPad 2's Safari browser and outperformed the HP version.

But not so fast, argues AnandTech. That site says that the webOS software, and not the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip powering the TouchPad. As proof, AnandTech cites the SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9, which shows that the TouchPad was 2.5 times slower on this particular test than the iPad 2. The site's conclusion:

What Palm managed to develop was an excellent UI and front end to an OS, but there's little doubt that the underlying Linux code needed (and still needs) work. Simple tricks like disabling logging and implementing the boot process properly would result in noticeable performance gains. There's little dobut that other similar simple things could dramatically improve performance.

The bottom line was the TouchPad was released with several crucial flaws that led to mediocre reviews, epitomized by our sister site CNET's conclusion that "The TouchPad would have made a great competitor for the original iPad, but its design, features, and speed put it behind today's crop of tablet heavyweights."

Was it the hardware that hurt the TouchPad's chances in the marketplace, or is the webOS team looking for a scapegoat as its livelihood has been thrown into jeopardy. We may never truly know now that the TouchPad has been relegated to the dustbin of tablet history.

[Image source: TechRepublic]

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware

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  • Most Tablet competition did this

    I think most threw together a Tablet to fight the iPad. HP changed direction midstream by cancelling a Windows version and instead having a Web OS Tablet. Obviously it must have been less resource hungry then Windows 7. But I think Web OS needed more polish and that again is where Apple excels and the others do not. If you can't make something as good if not better then Apple's product. Why even bother? Look at the amount of money spent on R&D and production only to have HP drop it like a rock.
    • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

      I am unsure whether it is hardware or software or a combination of both, but my experience is that the TouchPad can at times be quite fast and at other times it can be unbearably slow. Adding new apps is amazingly fast but it takes an age to open Adobe Reader.

      It is a shame to see the end of this product.
      • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?


        A combination of both I think. With my experience, opening apps were just unbearably slow. Especially when going from using an iPad to a TouchPad. And there were many other usability annoyance and bugs that needed to get fixed before releasing. But it was also clear to see that they went real cheap on the hardware.
      • Anyway, supposed complaints from 'WebOS team' on hardware are *nonsensical*

        @ptorning: ... since the core of WebOS team are former Apple workers which thought they could use ideas, rejected for iOS by Steven Jobs, to make new platform. John Rubenstein is one of these people and he was fully responsible for hardware, <b>not some evil HP, which forced to run the wonderful WebOS on the horrible hardware</b>.

        So, of course, both WebOS and hardware are responsible for the sad result. This is what you call complete, all-around "epic failure".
      • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

        @ptorning hardly fair to cite acrobat reader - it's slow to open on my 4GB Athlon II X3 3 GHz desktop
  • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

    Absolutely, nobody who was serious tried to leverage an Adreno 220 against a Tegra 2 or SGX543MP2.

    Even more, they went with with 4:3 format so it was one less area it could have an advantage over the iPad 2! Say what you want about the honeycomb tablets but they certainly do like nice running a 720P video on their screen.
  • Gotta say

    My HP Pavilion had QC issues--tore it apart several times with failed drive and heat sink.

    Although, I will give it an A+ rating for cooking eggs (over medium, my preference)--it could use a 'non-stick' surface.

    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
  • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

    Nothing doomed the TouchPad. But, like the Kin, one has to ask why did a company's internal politics lead to a massive waste of money and talent.<br><br>If one wants to be glib, one may say that HP's top management doesn't want to be a hardware company any more, but didn't have the nerve or stomach to be up front about that and deal with the blowback from a flat-out abandonment of the HP brand and culture. Indeed, maybe the TouchPad story is one of a CEO who needed a failure to consolidate his position. That's a very cynical and Machiavellian accusation to make, I admit.<br><br>Still, go back and review Apotheker's statements about the TouchPad. They won't release it until it's perfect. A couple of weeks after they release, they acknowledge it has some glitches, but say the next software release will make it... perfect, and besides OS X wasn't so good when it first came out. Seven weeks after deployment, it's remaindered. The pc business is for sale: I wouldn't be surprised if there's an ad on Craigslist. (To contrast, IBM made the deal with Lenovo before it said it was exiting the pc business.) All the cash is committed to buying a British software company.<br><br>The HP Board (and there have been some erratic things with those folks' choices over the past decade) thought the best decision was to be in a different business and hired the guy to do that, while acting as though they were committed to consumer and enterprises devices. To oversimplify, it's like a pizza maker thinking that their delivery business means they can become couriers and sell off the ovens.<br><br>The TouchPad wasn't doomed. HP continues to be giving full employment to harbingers.
  • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

    Leo and management doomed the TouchPad....not the hardware. Granted, with the performance tweaks and over-clocking (which all should have been the default) with the 3.0.2 build, it performs just as well as an iPad 1st generation. I have both and that's using stock apps and some games.

    Now, with that said, it should have been priced that way. Bad forecasting, bad decisions, bad execution. And this goes for the Pre 3 fiasco too. HP could have come in low ($199/$299) and folks would have bought the units and the iPad2 comparison would have been nil due to the price point. The TouchPad 2 and TouchPad Go could have made up some of the margins once a decent market share was sliced up. I think the past 18 months would make for an excellent case study on failing ventures.
  • No not really. The iPad/iPad2 are pretty crappy hardware and they sell ok

    no one wants webOS is the bigger problem. The they could change every few months....
    Johnny Vegas
  • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

    Short answer: Yes. HP has been using inferior hardware at least since 1999; I had been an HP customer since the mid-'70s, and found out the hard way. HP seems only to care about profits for their top executives and board. Couple all this with their inability to support this product for more than *48 days*, and one gets a company on the fast track out the door. I am glad I own no stock in HP.
  • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

    Top management made a decision to exit the client side of the computer business. The TouchPad was a nit in that decision. It could have run rings around the iPad and outsold it as well... it would still have been cancelled. We know this because their PCs do outsell everyone else's... and they got cancelled.

    There was nothing the TouchPad hardware team or the WebOS team could have done to head this off. The decision to leave commodity hardware behind and follow IBM into the clouds was probably in the can before they even launched their product.
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

    It wasn't just the hardware. Horrible marketing, unkept promises to the webOS faithful (OS upgrades to existing product line, flash availability, etc.), lag time between product announcement and final release, HP's lack of solid released dates, lack of developer support and resulting lack of apps, the whole soft/hard release idiocy, ridiculous price point, unfinished OS on launch (after promises to release a "perfect" product) which significantly slowed performance during the critical first days of use, and lack of complementary phones or 3/4G capability on launch were ALL contributors to the TouchPad's downfall. To say it was only the hardware is WAY too simplistic and narrow of a focus to approach how this all went down. The downfall of Palm from the transition to webOS from PalmOS to HP's recent bungling will be an interesting study for college business courses, and I'd be willing to watch a documentary about it.
    I've been an enthusiastic Palm user since the Handsprings. They announced the first Pre just in time for me to stick with the product line after the PalmOS hardware and software had stalled out. But with the delays and reneged-on promises since I've had my VZ Pre+, I decided to move on to Android earlier in the year. That being said, I picked over the corpse during the weekend and bought a TouchPad due to the revised price point. Luckily, I know about the updates/initial lag and the Homebrew community, and am actually pretty happy with the thing. Normal tech-unsavvy Americans who got in on the deal will probably get frustrated and turn their TPs into digital picture frames (and at the new price, they are even bargain priced in that arena!).
  • RE: Did crappy hardware doom the HP TouchPad?

    Great article. WebOS although it had a wonderful UI definitely needed to be optimized to run faster. I do not see see this as being a hardware issue at all. Actually the RAM and processor on the HP TouchPad may actually be better than ipad2. This article, http://techglob.com/2011/08/28/webos-never-ran-on-ipad-2-hp-touchpad-hardware-vindicated/, has a few more details on the subject.