Considering how badly RIM's new Playbook and all of the Android tablets have been fairing in their attempts to take on the iPad, HP's new TouchPad to many was their last hope to really take on Apple's wonder tablet.
Well, guess what? This is just in.... the iPad still rules!
Yes, as hard as they all might try, apparently the goal of over throwing the iPad anytime soon isn't going to be as easy as some originally first thought, like all of those Android fan boys who claimed they would do to the iPad what they did to the iPhone.
Unfortunately, for all of the hopes, the very first TouchPad reviews now coming in have all concluded more-or-less the same thing: that the TouchPad, so far at least, = A BIG FAT FAIL!
In fact, InfoWorld's Galen Gruman concludes in his lengthly review entitled, "Tablet deathmatch: HP TouchPad vs. Apple iPad 2", that in just about every category imaginable that the iPad comes out as:
"The winner: The iPad 2 is clearly a better piece of hardware than the TouchPad. Its design is more elegant, it's lighter, and above all it's faster. In terms of peripherals, the TouchPad's inductive charging is nice but not essential, whereas the lack of rear camera and options for video-out are clear disadvantages.
The overall winner is ...
The differences between the iPad 2 and the TouchPad matter, with the TouchPad offering several innovative WebOS capabilities such as Synergy, Just Type, and Touch-to-Share, but falling short in its workaday apps, which cover just the basic reqiurements in many cases. The iPad 2 has more capabilities overall, and they're mostly well designed and well integrated into a strong ecosystem of product and services that is really hard to match. As a result, I can't imagine anyone choosing a TouchPad over an iPad.
Overall, it appears that HP designed the TouchPad to compete not with the iPad 2 but for second place in the tablet market. In that competition for second, the TouchPad is a strong alternative to the two best Android tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Motorola Xoom. (The RIM BlackBerry PlayBook is a dead end that should be on no one's list.)
So how to choose?
Android has enjoyed strong momentum in the smartphone world, which tablet makers are hoping will translate to the tablet market (though it has not done so thus far). But HP is a strong brand that has acquired through Palm's WebOS a good platform on which to build a credible mobile business. My fear is that HP's bark is bigger than its bite. Although the TouchPad is a good product, it is not a leading product, and it shows little innovation beyond what the Palm team already had in progress before the HP acquisition closed a year ago today. Google's prowess is also questionable, given its uneven set of Android releases over the last four years that continue to trail Apple's iOS and a history of uneven execution by its hardware partners.
In terms of what you can actually do today, a Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Xoom is a better tablet than the TouchPad. In terms of longer-term potential, I have a tad more faith in HP's WebOS team than I do in Google's Android team, but I don't see either company as aiming to be the best. Neither has puts its money where its mouth is.
All this hand-wringing reminds me of a fundamental reality: There's a reason Apple is outselling everyone else by such lopsided margins. Simply, it has the best product available and demonstrates a clear commitment to making it even better every year. Why settle for second? The iPad 2 remains the clear choice."
Engadget's, Tim Stevens, also concludes in his "HP TouchPad Review", that:
"Oh, happy day, when one first receives a device that's been eagerly anticipated for months. Sad, sad day when that device fails to live up to one's expectations. We all wanted the TouchPad to really compete, to give us a compelling third party to join the iOS and Android boxes on the ballot. But, alas, this isn't quite it.
The shortage of apps is a problem, no doubt, but that will change with time. What won't change is the hardware, and there we're left a little disappointed. Holding this in one hand and either an iPad 2 or a Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the other leaves you wondering why you'd ever be compelled to buy the HP when you could have the thinner, lighter alternative for the same money. Meanwhile, the performance left us occasionally wanting and, well, what is there to say.
If the Pre 3 were out today and if the TouchPad were $100 less we could maybe see giving it a go, if only to root for the underdog. But, as it is, you have to put your heart and two decades worth of Palm obsession ahead of any buying rationale. With such compelling alternatives readily available, that's asking rather a lot."
"This is going to sound like a broken record, but the TouchPad is yet another tablet that feels unfinished. The interface is more elegant and intuitive than what you'll find on Android Honeycomb tablets, and we appreciate the time-saving features such as Just Type. The TouchPad also produces louder audio than any other slate we've tested. Last but not least, HP deserves credit for spicing up the app shopping experience and for leveraging webOS-powered phones to tell a better-together story.
The reason this story doesn't have a happy ending (at least not yet) is because the TouchPad is pretty sluggish for a device that's powered by a dual-core processor. The slow and schizophrenic accelerometer alone gives us pause. The TouchPad is also heavier, thicker, and more smudge-prone than class-leading designs such as the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1. And, of course, HP still has a lot of catching up to do on the app front. Just like Google, HP will likely work out many of thie kinks with its first over-the-air update--at which time we'll revisit our rating--but right now the TouchPad is a tough sell."
As bad as the above conclusions might all sound, the worst comes from Gizmodo's, Matt Buchanan, who concludes in his review that:
"There's no nice way to say this: Shit just plain doesn't work, far more often than it should. And there's no more guaranteed way to make something feel like a train wreck in slow motion than to make it run like it's a train wreck in slow motion. Apps can take foreeeeever to launch, even with just one or two cards open. (I once waited 20 seconds for screen settings to launch.) The gap between your touch and the TouchPad's response is occasionally so wide you could fit all of Transformers 3 in between it. (God help you if you try to tap multiple things while the TouchPad's deliberating its responses.) The Messages app was a consistent bag of hurt, refusing to sign on at all sometimes, or to deliver AIM messages, even though I kept receiving them. Email contents wouldn't show up, often up to 10 seconds after I opened a message. The HP app to get music onto your TouchPad is loathesome—pure HP, and sweet Christ I hope it's not a sign of things to come for Palm. (Speaking of: Where's the cloud music?) And there are so many more little problems throughout (ugh, Skype). The fact that so much of the TouchPad is so good conceptually makes all of that far more painful."
Well, in conclusion, and based on the above reviews, HP's TouchPad still has a hell-of-a-lot more work to do if it wants to take on Android tablets, let alone the iPad. Things could always change by the time Windows 8 tablets finally arrive, but at least for now it seems to me that if the competition can't come up with better alternatives then what we have seen so far, well then Apple and its iPad will have nothing to fear, absolutely nothing at all.
And that's my 2 cents on the TouchPad's first reviews 4 this Thursday, June 30, 2011
HP TouchPad photo via: Gizmodo