Quick Review: HP TouchPad – The Tablet That Almost Made It

Summary:  Released in 2011, the HP TouchPad was one of HP’s many attempts to replicate the success of the Apple iPad.  Running a unique, and ahead of its time OS called webOS, the HP TouchPad was late to the market and was hampered by a lack of important apps and games.  At the time, the HP TouchPad’s performance was on par with that of the Apple iPad.  In addition, enterprising OS programmers have adapted a version of Android, called Cyanogenmod, to run on the TouchPad, allowing users access to a much larger app store.  HP quickly realized that this device, based on the lack of well-known apps, was not selling at its release price of $600.  The HP TouchPad was then discontinued 49 days later.  To clear out inventories at retailers, HP held a firesale of all TouchPads at prices of around $100-$150. After these low priced sales, enterprising buyers would resell these tablets on eBay for around $250-$350, a price point that while being higher than the firesale price, was still referenced by HP’s then-CEO Meg Whitman as being, “unsustainable and below cost”.

Market: Users who desired OS flexibility, or who had experience and preference for webOS.

Sub-optimal market:  Users who needed critical apps, such as Skype, Documents to Go, and more.  Users who are significantly invested in Apple’s or Google’s ecosystem of apps, hardware, and services would find this device to be less than ideal.

Considerations:

  • OS Flexibility:  The HP TouchPad is unique among non-Windows Pro tablets in that it supports three operating systems: the native webOS, Android (Cyanogenmod), and Ubuntu Linux.  This provides access to a much wider range of apps and capabilities than iPads or most Android tablets.
  • Good Battery Life:  Due to its larger battery size, resulting in a slightly heavier device than contemporary tablets, the HP TouchPad was able to attain over 7 hours of battery life during continuous use in our tests.
  • Wireless Charging:  This device used Palm’s unique TouchStone charging capability to become one of the first devices, and the first commercially available tablet, to support the highly convenient, if somewhat slower, ability to charge wirelessly.
  • webOS Platform End of Life:  While webOS was never a fully accepted platform, though being ahead of its time in some areas, webOS is no longer support by HP, with the HP app store (App Catalog) no longer being available as of 2015.  As such, the native OS on this tablet will retain its limited usefulness.  Given this, users of the HP TouchPad may be better served by installing and using Android or even Ubuntu Linux.  Of course, in that situation, users may find more advanced and lighter tablets specifically designed for Android have been released since the TouchPad became available in 2011.
  • Touch to Share:  One of the first device families to support tapping one device to share information with another, an HP TouchPad, when paired with an HP Pre3 phone, could share a web site URL that was being viewed from one device to another.  This served as somewhat of a gimmick, as the technology never was expanded beyond tapping to share web URLs.

Requirements (any one of the following):

  • Runs webOS, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) through Cyanogenmod, and Ubuntu Linux.

Approximate Retail Price:  $100-$200

Purchase Link (Amazon):  HP TouchPad (FORTHCOMING)

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