HP today announced its long-awaited competitor to the Apple iPad 2, the HP TouchPad.
The 9.7-inch TouchPad is based on the webOS operating system developed by Palm, which HP bought for $1.2 billion in April 2010.
Unlike Android, which powers a number of tablets and has been the principal competitor to the iPad up to now, webOS is exclusive to HP.
The new tablet weighs a shade over 740 grams and is only 13.7mm thick. Other specs inlcude:
- 1.2GHz dual-core processor
- 16GB or 32GB internal storage
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- 9.7-inch, 1,024 x 768 resolution display
- 1.3 megapixel webcam for video chatting
- Stereo speakers
The TouchPad is also capable of ‘inductive charging’, whereby the tablet will charge without wires when placed on a specially designed dock. This feature was also present in past Palm phones, and the overall design of the tablet is similar to the Palm Pre range of phones.
HP will sell a range of accessories, including the Touchstone stand and charger, a case that features its own stand, and a wireless Bluetooth keyboard.
A Wi-Fi only version will go on sale in the US ‘in the summer’, with 3G and 4G versions to follow. No pricing was revealed, and there’s no confirmation of the launch date outside the US.
Adobe Flash support
Unlike the Apple iPad, the TouchPad supports Adobe Flash. This means it can play all kinds of web video, not just video specifically encoded for it. HP also confirmed the TouchPad will feature newspapers and magazines formatted for the 9.7-inch screen, and demonstrated games with high-quality graphics.
Another key feature of the HP TouchPad is ‘Tap-to-Share’. This system allows you to transfer a website, document, song or other object from a webOS phone to the TouchPad (and vice versa) simply by tapping them together.
A similar effect can also be achieved by docking a phone on a ‘touchstone’ wireless docking station and charger. When docked, text messages on the phone appear on the tablet.
Synergy – cloud-based storage
Synergy is HP’s answer to cloud computing and syncronisation. Using it, users will have their data and applications syncronised across multiple webOS devices – e.g. phones and tablets. This includes email and calendar information. Jon Rubinstein of HP said:
‘One of our developments is Synergy. It merges your data from across the cloud and brings it together in an easy way. If info changes in the cloud, it’s automatically updated in your phone. Now HP is bringing that to more products that help you connect.’
HP’s new tablets will enter an increasingly crowded market. The Motorola Xoom, the first Android 3.0 tablet, is due to go on sale in the US in a matter of weeks. The Apple iPad 2 is widely expected to arrive in the Spring, and Which? previewed numerous tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Interest in the tablet market has ballooned since the iPad proved its success with spectacular sales figures. Analysts predict sales of the iPad could hit 45 million in 2011, and revenue from iPad apps is expected to reach £9.4 billion this year according to analyst firm Gartner.
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