In Direct Competition with Apple?
The TouchPad is the first tablet to be offered by HP which will run on its highly touted webOS platform designed by Palm, the company HP acquired last year. This is the tablet that HP hopes will be a strong competitor in the tablet wars of 2011. In the fall of 2010, HP introduced an Android based tablet bundled with a printer. Earlier, HP introduced the HP Slate 500, a Windows 7 tablet PC. Of course, it would seem obvious that naming the new device a “pad” rather than some variation of “tablet” would give the impression that this new TouchPad is meant to be in direct competition with the Apple iPad.
Similarities of TouchPad to Apple’s iPad:
The HP TouchPad is 13.7mm thick (the iPad is 13.4mm) and weighs 1.6 lbs. It shares the specs of the Apple iPad with its 9.7″ capacitive multitouch screen with a resolution of 1024×768. Since neither the TouchPad nor the iPad come in the preferred 16:9 aspect ratio of most Android tablets, experiencing high definition widescreen movies may be disappointing in comparison. However the screen resolution of the TouchPad and the iPad are much better suited for reading documents and digital publications.
There is also a similarity between the TouchPad and the iPad in regard to wireless connectivity and internal stereo speakers. The HP speakers (Beats by Dre) have already been in use on HP’s Envy laptops and produce a superior audio output experience. The TouchPad also comes with the option of either 16GB or 32GB and it too has a Wi-Fi-only or a 3G-enabled option which includes a GPS and a mobile broadband radio. 4G is expected to come at a later time. At this point in time there is no memory card reader available to expand the memory.
Differences Between TouchPad and iPad:
The big differences between the HP and the Apple device are, of course, the operating systems and the Touchpad’s CPU, microUSB charger port, LED alert light and gyroscope, as well as its wireless charging system, dubbed Touchstone. Of course, unlike the iPad, the HP device supports Adobe Flash.
The TouchPad also avoids Apple’s multiple-layered onscreen keyboard, includes a row of numbers with its touch keys for easier text entry and can be resized on-the-fly. And, not to be undone by Apple and its accessories for the iPad, there are a number of these available for the TouchPad as well, which include a specially designed HP case, the TouchStone charger and stand system and an “ultraslim wireless keyboard” for easier text entry.
The HP TouchPad has a 1.3 megapixel webcam in the front which supports video calling. It will not possess a camera in the back, a feature that HP feels is not usually utilized fully by tablet users anyway since most have their smartphones handy for that purpose. The TouchPad will include an accelerometer and a compass. It will run Qualcomm’s extremely fast processor, the Snapdragon dual-core APQ8060 at 1.2GHz. It belongs to the third generation Snapdragon processors and allows for high-definition, 3D video and multi-tasking abilities.
Users will also be able to access and edit Microsoft Office documents and the platform also supports VPN (virtual private networking for secure remote access). Applications such as the email and Internet browser programs have been optimized for the larger screen using panes and collapsible menus. The way in which several applications will be active on the screen at one time will also be unique. These will be “cards”, not icons and they will be able to be swiped off the homescreen or stacked on top of each other for related tasks.
Probably the biggest difference that sets Apple and HP apart in regard to Tablet PC manufacture is that Apple sees the iPad as the all-in-one portable device that can fulfill most of the needs of the customer and HP sees the Tablet as having more of a complementary function sitting somewhere in between the smartphone and the PC. It will be very interesting to track the way consumers react to this new device with its webOS operating system as it competes with the Apple iPad as well as all the other tablet entries being introduced this year.