Palm as a brand may be dead, but the people who brought you webOS are very much alive based on the new tablet announced today under the HP umbrella.
At a special press event in San Francisco, California, HP announced two new webOS based phones. But while the credit-card-sized Veer and saga-continuing Pre 3 seem like decent devices, it’s the HP Touchpad that really looks to be the heart of today’s story.
The Touchpad is HP’s first major innovation to come from its purchase of Palm last year. This is a 9.7-inch touchscreen tablet that is not only the latest iPad competitor from a major company, but also the first of a “family” of tablets set to be released by HP. And what can interested buyers expect from the Touchpad?
Palm’s beautiful and intuitive user interface made the Palm Pre a great phone but some people were not pleased with the hardware. However, everyone who was impressed by the software will find a tablet-optimized operating system that handles notifications, web browsing, and multitasking exceptionally well. Email supports multiple accounts through Exchange or POP 3/IMAP (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.), there are built-in enterprise and security features, and QuickOffice will enable Microsoft Office support. Users can also set-up integration with their webOS phone; send links from one device to another or even answer SMS messages from your Touchpad.
The trend among all new mobile devices is to support video chat in some capacity. The Touchpad is no different because it ships with a 1.3-megapixel webcam that will enable video-conferencing with co-workers or clients, family and friends. HP says that they are working with Skype to have video calls supported.
The full web
Advanced web technology and Adobe Flash will all be capable on the Touchpad. This is an important advantage over the iPad because while Apple feels content providers will have no choice but to re-encode their video, there’s still a great number of web content from videos to slideshows that are not accessible because of the iPad lacking Flash support. The Touchpad will not have that problem.
Beats by Audio will provide high sound quality, photos and videos will be well-organized and easily-shared on social networks, and there will be 16 or 32GB of internal storage depending on which model someone purchases. The 9.7-inch screen has a resolution of 1024×768, which is common among tablets.
We’ve shown how Google Cloud Print is working to deliver web-based printing, but HP has a very strong option as well. The Touchpad will have a feature that allows users to press one button and print documents or photos to their shared HP printers.
HP enters the tablet market at an extremely competitive time. Apple’s iPad was the first to have a mass-market consumer success story, and Google’s Android 3.0 tablets are poised to be hot on its heels. The Touchpad will have to compete not only for user attention but that of the developers who create all those amazing apps that make having an iPad worthwhile.
Making things even tougher, the Touchpad doesn’t go on sale until the summer! By then, many people may have already purchased an iPad, the sure-to-come iPad 2, the BlackBerry Playbook, or one of the many Android tablets set to hit the market.
And of course, there’s that critical issue of price, which hasn’t been settled yet. HP will have a tough road ahead convincing you to purchase its tablets over the many other choices likely to be available on the market.