The HP TouchPad is going to be the first tablet running the webOS, a powerful and user-frendly operating system.
The TouchPad won’t be released for several more months, but HP was kind enough to demonstrate it for me recently, and I’d like to share my first impressions.
BUILD & DESIGN
The 9.7-inch, XGA (1024 x 768) touchscreen on the prototype unit I saw was beautiful, and it will be made of Corning Gorilla Glass to help keep it this way. This display is going to be big enough for casual web surfing, videos, and email, the most typical tasks done on tablets.
As mentioned before, the TouchPad will have a screen the same size as the iPad’s, and the resolution will be the same, too. The resemblances won’t end there. HP’s upcoming model is going to look a great deal like Apple’s, especially from the front. There’s the same black bezel around the display and the same curved corners.
The device will weigh 1.5-pounds — not to sound like a broken record, but that’s the same weight as the iPad.
It’s clear to me that when it came time to design the hardware, HP’s designers looked at the most successful tablet available — Apple’s — and decided to make a product with the same form factor.
Still, there are a few differences obvious even at first glance, like the 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. And the TouchPad’s back is going to be black, rather than silver.
Long-time users of webOS smartphones might be surprised to learn that there won’t be a Gesture Area below the screen, just a button.
The HP TouchPad might look a great deal like the iPad, but it sure won’t function like one. And that’s a good thing, because that’s going to set this tablet apart from its rivals.
It will run the webOS, an operating system HP acquired when it bought Palm, Inc. last year. Let me go ahead and state up front that I’m a big fan of the webOS. Its “cards” method of dealing with applications and windows is the best system I know of easily switching between concurrently running apps on a small screen.
In the webOS, each application window acts like a card. When you’re using it, the app expands to fill the whole display, but when you want to switch between windows, you push the hardware button beside the screen to reveal all your cards/windows. You can move these cards around, group them, flick them off the screen to close apps, or tap on them to make one the foreground app.
In the tablet version of this operating system — which may or may not be called webOS 3.0 — HP has improved the notification system. This now functions a small drop-down box at the top of the screen that pops open to let you know about incoming emails or upcoming events. You can display or hide these notifications as you wish.
The TouchPad is going to be based on a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 processor and include 1GB of RAM. For storage, consumers will have a choice between a 16GB and a 32GB model.
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