Hewlett-Packard has quite a bit riding on the marketplace success of its TouchPad tablet, slated for a July 1 release.
The 9.7-inch device not only represents the manufacturer's attempt to carve off a piece of the burgeoning tablet market, but also the debut of the webOS operating system on a form-factor other than a smartphone. HP has plans to port webOS onto desktops and laptops in the future, which in turn places a lot of pressure on the TouchPad to demonstrate that the software platform is a viable one. (HP inherited WebOS when it purchased Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010, and plans to load it onto PCs by early 2012.)
In the United States, HP will offer the 16GB version of the device for $499.99, and the 32GB version for $599.99. The TouchPad relies on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, faster than a significant portion of the tablets already on the market.
But how's the TouchPad faring in early reviews? The hardware's attracting praise, despite the lack of a rear-facing camera, but webOS seems to have some kinks begging to be worked out in the near-term. At least, that's the opinion of reviewers like AllThingsD's Walt Mossberg:
"I've been testing the TouchPad for about a week and, in my view, despite its attractive and different user interface, this first version is simply no match for the iPad," he wrote in his June 29 review. "It suffers from poor battery life, a paucity of apps and other deficits."
After a round of testing, he concluded that the TouchPad's battery life "was only 60 [percent] that of the iPad 2," and that its app store boasts only 300 "tablet-optimized apps." He also needed to reboot in order to correct its sluggishness, an issue that HP claims it will fix with a future software update.
Macworld.com's Jason Snell seemed to agree with many of those points.
"HP has gotten a lot right here, but on the software side, it's just not all there yet," he wrote in his June 29 review. "The interface isn't responsive enough, app launching is slow, and there are too many other quirks that scream that this is a 1.0 release of a tablet operating system."
The New York Times' David Pogue also advised caution when considering a TouchPad purchase.
"In this 1.0 incarnation, the TouchPad doesn't come close to being as complete or mature as the iPad or the best Android tablets," he wrote in his review. "You'd be shortchanging yourself by buying one right now, unless you're some kind of rabid A.B.A. nut (Anything but Apple)."
Nonetheless, he added, "there are signs of greatness here. ... [Hewlett-Packard is] tilting at windmills-but at least it's riding an impressive steed."