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HP TouchPad review

I recently attended a presentation on the HP TouchPad that was given by Info Advantage. I must say that I am very impressed by the HP TouchPad, which is no surprise given that it is the #2 tablet in the US market.

screenshot of the HP TouchpadThe HP TouchPad is powered by webOS just like the HP Veer and the HP Pre3. This distinguishes it from other devices such as those powered by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. HP prides itself on the fact that it controls the hardware and the software end so it knows what consumers will be getting.

The TouchPad is currently Wi-Fi only, but will be coming to AT&T  4G network later this summer. When it comes to AT&T it will feature a slightly faster processor.

The TouchPad is geared heavily for the enterprise market. It does not see itself trying to compete for the consumer market. Yes, it will have some games like Angry Birds, but games aren’t going to be the bread and butter of the TouchPad like they are on the iPad. If you look at iTunes top 50 paid apps, as of this writing 29 of them are games and 4 of them fall under entertainment and 1 social networking. There is only 1 item listed under productivity. HP obviously recognizes that this would be a difficult battle and is going in another direction. For example, by supporting Adobe Flash on its operating system.

Enterprise needs things to be able to just come together. HP allows you to natively merge Yahoo, Google, and up to 16 Microsoft Exchange accounts at the same time into one box.net account.  It also allows you to merge your Photobucket, Facebook, and Snapfish accounts for picture sharing. It allows you to import music files from an iTunes account and books from a kindle. If you have an environment where you need 10 TouchPads to be configured the same for roll out all you need to do is associate them all with the same box.net account. Installing apps on one means that the others will receive those apps the next time they are synced up (once a day, or if initiated by the user) — but passwords and data are never synced. If a device is lost it can have its data whipped remotely just by deleting the device from the account.

JustType is the name of the internal search engine for the device, and it allows you to find documents, contacts, events, browse the web all with a single search. It really is quite smooth.

HP is completely invested in the cloud. HP offers up to 50 GB of storage per device for free. You can upload content there and then just share a URL to another individual to institute collaboration in an enterprise environment, no need to e-mail the same file back and forth. While a TouchPad can be tethered to a PC, HP encourages you to do everything remotely. Applications are updated over the air from the app store and do not require you to log in to anything on a computer at other times.

HP offers other solutions that enterprises need. For example, it comes with free software called QuickOffice which allows you to edit documents, spreadsheets, etc. just like Microsoft Office. It offers 128 bit encryption and security and IPSEC VPN and Cicso Any Connect VPN support. Coming October 1st it will over remote desktop support with the SplashTop app. One and two year Accidental Damage Plans (ADP) are available for the TouchPad. An ADP says that it will just cover the replacement of a device no matter what happened — so if your dog or child somehow manages to destroy it you do not need to come up with some excuse to try and get them to actually send a replacement.

While webOS currently offers less apps than iOS or Android, it also makes it incredibly simple to make an app. While an app can be created in C, C++, or OpenGL, it can also be created by anyone that knows how to create a Web site using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. As the name implies, webOS is driven by the Web so it focuses heavily on excellent support for Web apps. WebOS is what is really meant by Web 2.0. The TouchPad can share content and functionality back and forth with any webOS device on the account, so you can share a page on your TouchPad with a Pre3, and a TouchPad can answer the phone call meant for the phone. Additionally, the TouchPad can print to any HP device made from 2006 on, and some even earlier.

The TouchPad itself is a sturdy device. The screen uses gorilla glass which means it is very difficult to break or smash. The device has an 8 hour battery life (assuming it is used for normal web browsing, less for watching video) and takes 2-4 hours to charge depending on how drained the device is. The TouchPad supports inductive charging which means you just need to keep it near the charger and can even be charged while inside the case, but it can be charged with a cord if you so desire.

As far as add-ons go their is a case available for the TouchPad, and a bluetooth keyboard can be connected if you so desire. The TouchPad supports Beats Audio headphones, but it has a stereo if you do not wish to use headphones. While not made by HP, there are styluses that work on the TouchPad.

The TouchPad is not perfect. For example, it does not currently have any video out. HP says that HDMI support will be coming soon, but right now that makes it difficult to do things such as presentations with one. Another example is the user interface. While they see it as a positive that the device does not have any icons like people are used to on a desktop or Android or iOS. And the card stack functionality to move between applications is very similar to using the windows key + tab in Vista and Windows 7 — something that while cool, most people don’t even know about or use if they do know it.

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About

Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.
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