HP TouchPad July 2011

HP Touchpad 16GB and 32GB tablet

The HP Touchpad is an interesting alternative to the iPad 2. It looks great and has several innovative features like Synergy and Touchstone charging. We haven't fully tested it yet, but here we bring you our first impressions before sending it to our lab for our robust and independent testing.

HP TouchPad

What is the HP TouchPad?

Pick up the HP TouchPad for the first time and it's clear that this is one of the more refined tablets around. However, in the world of tablets where lighter and thinner is usually better it's worth noting that the HP TouchPad is 13.7mm thick and tips the scales at 740 grams. Though not heavy or bulky in itself, compared to the the iPad 2, which is a whisker over 600 grams and measures just 8.8mm thick or the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, it's noticeably chunkier.

Two memory options are available for the HP TouchPad, 16GB and 32GB. There's no 64GB version like the Apple iPad 2 or . Storing films on your tablet can gobble up a lot of memory, so it's even more disappointing to find that no memory card slot for expansion. You do, however, get 50GB of online cloud storage space for free via the Box.net app, available from TouchPad's app store.

The app store is integrated within a feature called WebOS Pivot. This is a monthly electronic magazine that promotes and lists apps in an accessible way. It makes finding interesting apps easier, although at present the number of available apps is small compared with the Apple App Store or Android Market.

When will the HP TouchPad go on sale and for how much?

The HP TouchPad will be available from 15 July. The 16GB version will cost £399, whilst the 32GB version will be £479. These prices are very close to those of the and .

Not sure which tablet to buy? Read all our lab-tested tablet reviews.

HP TouchPad first look video

 

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This is the HP Touch Pad which we first saw at mobile world congress back in February. Now this is the final version that we've had a chance to have a quick play with. It's a very nice looking product. It weighs about 700 grams and it's about 13 millimeters thick. And feels nice in the hands. But one of the first things I picked up on was the usability of it.

You can flick through your apps like this very easily, and then maximize just by clicking on that, or pressing on the screen. And you can make it go away again by pressing the side button. If you want to get rid of it completely you can just flick up. It's a really nice system and very easy to use.

Another great feature is just type. Press the box here and start typing away. And the TouchPad will bring up all the options, apps, searches, and other actions that you think you might be type, you might be looking for. So you could actually start an email from just the, just type box.

The HP Touch Pad also has something called Synergy, which is basically a means of storing all your emails, your calendar entries, and you photos in one place. It seems to be very easy to use. For example, here's my, here's a calendar. And close that, and then all your photos from Facebook, from your albums, are all kept in the same place as well.

It's a very neat way of holding all your data and your content.

Now, the HP TouchPad has about 7,500 apps, currently. And we all know that looking for apps for a tablet or mobile phone can sometimes be a bit confusing. But the HP TouchPad has something called Pivot. Which, it looks a bit like magazine which you can scroll through, and it helps you to find apps a little bit quick, and it recommends some as well.

We'll look forward to giving this a closer try when we get the tablet in for testing.

The HP is, so far, the only tablet to come with wireless charging built in. There's some coils built into the rear of the device, another set built into the optional stand. This allows the tablet to automatically charge every time you put down on the stand, without having to plug it in.

So, the HP TouchPad comes in 60GB and 32GB varieties. The 16GB will cost 299 and the 32GB will cost 479. Now, we look forward to getting a sample of the HP TouchPad into the office, in the next couple of weeks, for a first look. So, in the meantime, for details of about 20/25 other tablets, have a look at the website which.co.uk/tablets.

What's the HP TouchPad like to use?

The TouchPad runs on WebOS, an operating system that looks similar to the BlackBerry Tablet OS operating system. Moving between apps is very smooth and easy thanks to an intuitive interface and excellent touchscreen response. You simply swipe the screen from one side to the other to move from your calendar, to your photos, to a web browser window, for example. 

We especially liked the 'Just Type' bar at the top. This allows you to search the web and quickly open applications. For example, typing 'Hi' in the bar will give you several options, one of which is to open a new email with 'Hi' as the first word in the body of the email and your cursor in position ready to type the rest of the message. It's quicker than finding the email app and pressing the button to compose a new message.

We also like the small notification bar at the top right that lets you know when you have a new email or calendar appointment. It's clear but discreet.

The HP TouchPad comes with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. This is faster in theory than the 1.0GHz dual-core we've seen on many other tablets recently, although we reserve judgement until we put it through our lab tests.

What is Synergy?

Synergy is a feature on the TouchPad that allows data synchronisation. For example, you can view and interact with photos from different social networking sites or emails from different accounts within just window on the TouchPad. Synchronisation can also occur across multiple devices running WebOS. If you change an email address on your HP Veer smartphone. for example, it will automatically change on the TouchPad too.

You can also share your data between your devices in a more physical fashion too. You can move a document, website, song or other object held on your mobile phone to the TouchPad by lightly tapping the two devices together. Only HP phones support the feature, however.

What is the Touchstone?

An optional extra for the HP TouchPad is the Touchstone. The Touchstone is a wireless charging pad for the TouchPad. When placed on the pad, the TouchPad is charged through a process known as inductive charging. It will cost £70. 

How long will the battery last?

HP makes no specific claim about how long the battery on the HP TouchPad will last, though some estimates put it at around nine hours. We'll be testing the battery life thoroughly when we get the TouchPad to the lab.

In the full review...

We haven't tested the HP TouchPad yet, but when we do you'll get the definitive verdict on the following:

  • Screen quality – A good quality on-screen image is vital to how a tablet performs. As tablets can be used inside and out, we rate the quality of images in a range of different lighting conditions. We measure the viewing angle, too, to find out how well the image holds up if you're not looking at it face-on. This aspect is particularly important if more than one person is looking at the screen. We also examine how reflective the screen is, its ability to resist fingermarks, display colour fidelity and the amount of fine detail shown or lost.
  • Battery life – After first conditioning the battery as per the manufacturer's instructions, we observe the amount of time the battery lasts while browsing the web via a Wi-Fi connection, and separately via a 3G internet connection. We also examine battery life when playing back HD video. We supplement all this by measuring actual power consumption and seeing how fast it charges.
  • Usability – The user interface, including touchscreen response, ease of typing on the virtual keyboard and the operating system's features and ease of use, is given strong focus by our lab as it is so fundamental to how a tablet performs overall. We also examine the type, amount and accessibility of connections as tablets are often used in conjuction with other devices. This is just a flavour of the type of testing we do to examine tablet usability.

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