On Friday, Hewlett-Packard made a late but notable entrance into the tablet race, with the release of the HP TouchPad. The tablet has a starting price of $499 — the same as the iPad 2 — and runs on HP's "excellent" webOS operating system, not Android or Apple's iOS. Is the TouchPad the long-awaited legitimate challenger to the iPad, or just another pale imitation? (See the TouchPad up close.)
It's the next best thing to the iPad: There's a "lot to like" here, says Harry McCracken at TIME. Unlike other iPad rivals, TouchPad doesn't try too hard to be different — it has the same size screen and the same display resolution as the Apple tablet. It also has superior audio, and its sharp webOS is "the only tablet operating system that rivals Apple's iOS." This one could be a contender, if it works out a few early bugs.
"HP's TouchPad: A promising tablet that needs more polish"
If only it were cheaper: "The TouchPad still doesn't measure up in key ways," says Casey Johnston at ARS Technica, but it's the "strongest alternative" to the iPad yet. It's just too bad that it's the same price as the iPad 2; it "might do extremely well if it could stop jockeying to be 'The Best Tablet' and instead content itself with being 'A Great Tablet'... with a slightly lower price."
"webOS takes on tablets: Ars reviews the HP TouchPad"
Watch out, Android: "Android tablet manufacturers should be a little nervous," say Tim Gideon and David Pierce at PC Mag. Like Apple's iOS, webOS is "fun and simple to use," something that Google's Android Honeycomb sadly isn't. While it's a little late to the tablet party, and there aren't many apps yet, if HP can convince enough developers to fill out TouchPad's offerings, this device has the potential to really shake things up.
"HP TouchPad (Wi-Fi)"
Eh, it's not as good as most Androids: "The TouchPad doesn't come close to being as complete or mature as the iPad or the best Android tablets," says David Pogue in The New York Times. The dearth of apps — just 300 right now — is a major issue. Other key features, like the ability to copy your music and movie files from your computer to the tablet, are "coming soon." C'mon already.
"Pretty tablet, though late for the ball"