Saturday, September 3

HP TouchPad

So it seems that the tablet effect is in fact real.

I was one of those who didn't quite see a use for a dumbed down portable and keyboard-less slab that could at best only be used to check mail and web. But after HP's discontinuation of WebOS hardware and subsequent firesale, I couldn't resist picking up a TouchPad. For 90 quid, it was an easy punt.

The effect wasn't quite immediate. But taking this week for example, I've left my main PC off for two evenings because the tablet served any purpose I wanted on those particular days. In fact I was quite surprised that there were in fact days when all I wanted to do on a PC was check email. I guess I'm a consumer after all.

And strangely using the tablet is actually more efficient than the PC. Perhaps it's ironically how its hard to type that I don't want to that much, or maybe it's the change of environment - it's easier to tear yourself away when you're lounging on a sofa rather than at a desk. Whatever the reason, for those two days I spent less time plugged in.

Although the future of WebOS is uncertain, there is already a lot that the TouchPad does already. It has mail, a calendar, a browser, Gtalk and Skype already loaded. It has an (admittedly quiet) app store and can play flash videos off YouTube and the like. Sure, it will never do everything my Android phone does, but that's okay - that's why I have my phone. And as has been said elsewhere the paradigm of using cards to represent multitasking is pretty much genius - I'm left wondering why Android and iOS settled on such respectively archaic ways of doing more than one thing at a time.

There are niggles though - the much talked about contact management, or Synergy, doesn't quite work as well as advertised, and there are a fair few UI issues where buttons or inputs lock up. Oh and the platform performs incredibly slowly.

Hardware wise there's not much to say. I miss a hardware back button, and the slab is a little heavy but other than that it's quite sleek (until your fingerprints destroy it). I'm a little annoyed that I can't charge it via my PC, but I'm sure there's a workaround for that.

Of course this isn't a fair review - tablets like this don't usually retail for under a ton. And even knowing what I know now, I still wouldn't pay more than £150 for one. But pricing aside I have to say I'm both surprised and impressed by the utility of such a device, and can even see how some are describing it as the future of computing.

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