HP took some time today to take the stage, and show off what the company has been working on since the purchase of Palm last year. Rumors had suggested that HP would be showcasing a tablet device, and analysts had recently tipped their hat in the same direction. Not surprisingly, then, the company did indeed showcase their first tablet device, previously known as the Topaz and now forever known as the TouchPad. It's a tablet that, as far as physical dimensions go, matches Apple's iPad down to the T. Obviously, there are several factors that must be considered when looking at any future purchase, but the more I stared at the TouchPad, and the more I thought about whether or not a webOS-based tablet is really what I want, I came to the conclusion that, unfortunately, I'll probably be skipping the TouchPad.
Not too long ago, I gave a few points as to why I don't think, ultimately, the Motorola XOOM Android-powered tablet device can really compete with the iPad from Apple. While the XOOM may look better, have flashier software in Honeycomb, and arguably better hardware specifications, I boil it down to the content, and come to the conclusion that in the end, the iPad wins out. With that still fresh in my mind, I looked at the HP TouchPad, and I ran through the same bullet points. Can the device, from a hardware specifications angle, compete with the iPad? From the sounds of it, the TouchPad can certainly compete with the iPad in hardware specs, without issue. How does the software and User Interface compare? Truth be told, I think that webOS is way more fun to use and interact with on a daily basis than iOS. So, that being said, I do believe that the TouchPad can compete with the iPad in this sense.
As I went down the checklist, I quickly realized that the TouchPad was climbing to the top pretty quickly and the iPad was being left behind. But then I got to the content, and everything stopped. Before I get to the next point, let me just say that I've owned three different Palm Pre Plus devices in the past, and I've even owned a Pixi Plus, on two separate occasions. I wasn't a fan of the hardware all that much, on either device, but webOS was something i couldn't ignore. It still isn't. I really do enjoy using webOS, and I've honestly been looking forward to a webOS-based tablet since I first used the software.
And, I'm still looking forward to the tablet. The TouchPad does indeed put a lot on the tablet. The dual-core 1.2GHz processor, alone, makes me want to get my hands on it and start playing. But, the truth is, I just feel like the same thing will happen between the TouchPad and I, as it did with all of those other webOS-based devices I owned. There's just not enough interesting content to keep me having fun, outside the general usage. The application selection isn't anywhere it needs to be, and I quickly grew bored. Sure, Angry Birds is on there, but that can only keep you entertained for so long.
A commenter on that previous opinion piece I wrote, about the XOOM competing with the iPad, suggested that it's not the XOOM's fault that Netflix, and Hulu (Plus) don't work on Android yet. And, that's completely true. However, they aren't there, and the competition has them. We can't just ignore that. If HP created something like Apple's iTunes, or had the application count that Apple had within their App Store and iPad App Store, then the argument between the two tablets would be a moot one. The iPad doesn't compare to the TouchPad in this regard. But unfortunately, in my opinion, a tablet needs content to be relevant. At least in the consumer market. For business users, obviously being able to watch a movie or download content in an easy, seemingly seamless fashion probably isn't a huge necessity.
I can sit here and say that the TouchPad from HP, with webOS 3.0 and all of its great new features, which will include newspapers and periodicals from TIME, and even a new Kindle application, is a better tablet than the iPad. But the best device doesn't usually win. It's an unfortunate truth, and one that many have been forced to accept over the years. But to me, as of right this moment, the TouchPad is just another tablet device that's missing the biggest part of being a tablet: content. And please, let me stress that these new features, like video calling and Skype integration, really are great. No doubt about that.
But, let's face it. No release dates, and no pricing, especially with the iPad 2 rumored to be right around the corner. It just doesn't seem like a very safe game to play, and one that I can imagine many people won't play.
If the webOS App Catalog can increase its size, and we see an influx of new, amazing, and intriguing applications find their way onto the tablet device, I'll give the TouchPad a second look. If HP can figure out a way to give us quick, easy access to movie and television show purchases and rentals, I'll probably pull out my wallet in consideration of buying the TouchPad. And, if HP can price the TouchPad in a realistic place against its competition, I'll more than likely pull the trigger and buy one for myself. However, all of those things have to happen, not just one. Not even two. All of them. If not, then it looks like I'll just go ahead and skip over it, and wait for the next version, keeping my fingers crossed the whole time.