By now, everyone knows of the great tablet sale of the past weekend (8/20/2011-8/21/2011) and either did something about it or wish they did. HP, after abandoning its tablet plans decided to make the weekend very interesting and dropped the price of its 16GB tablet to a mouth-watering $99. If you were living on a different planet and didn’t know about it, well, it really happened.
I picked up a unit at Costco, which miraculously did not drop the price on Saturday morning. I did get a chance to spend quite a bit of time with the tablet and found it to be a mixed bag even at $99 (0r $149). Here is why.
+ For $99, the screen rocks and so does the overall build of the device.
+ The touch is pretty responsive. Occasionally it froze or was slow but for the most part, it worked well.
+ I really dig the card system. It is pretty neat.
+ Flash performance was surprisingly very good. I tried flash content from different sites and they all worked well.
+ Email client was good and HP Synergy Services was not bad at all.
+ I liked the webOS implementation of multi-tasking much better than the iOS one. The card system was also fun to use.
+ At $99, it would serve as a good glorified and lighter netbook with touch.
+ 50GB box.net cloud storage is a good bonus.
And now for the downsides.
- Apps, apps, apps. The reason why Android tablets are quite not as popular as their smartphone brethren is also why the TouchPad (and webOS) is a failure. Apps are non-existent. There is no Netflix app (nor does it play on the browser), ESPN app or any of the common ones most people use these days. There is also no official Twitter client for webOS.
- While the tablet is fast or up to snuff for most tasks, there is an ever pervading slowness in hardware that creeps up on a regular basis. It is not debilitating but definitely something that will be felt.
- No camera app. I mean, what was HP thinking?. There is a front facing camera on the device without a camera app to go with it. The only way to utilize the camera is to have a video call. There is an app that you can buy for 99c to utilize the camera to take pictures.
- Video call quality on Skype was less than stellar compared to a laptop utilizing the same network. The tablet seemed to choke while handling the call quite a bit.
- HP took the effort of building a dedicated Facebook app for the tablet. This is good and bad. Good because a good deal of thought has been put into building a dedicated Facebook app for the tablet (one that does not exist for the iPad or Android). Bad because it is quirky and behaves oddly often times.
For those who did buy the tablet and are looking for more apps, you found find any official ones coming up. But the homebrew community seems to be very active as are the Android port efforts for the now defunct device. So all is not dead. Until then, browse away!
Overall, the experience was one that befits a $299 tablet at the most and HP definitely should have baked it longer to justify the initial $499 asking price or positioned it as a low cost competitor to the iPad and Android tablets. At $499 it was not going to sell. At $99 it is a good buy. At a launch price of $299 it would have done wonders!
I have a 32 GB unit to call my own for $129. Costco is now offering a $350 price adjustment to whoever bought the Touchpad on Saturday/Sunday at the $479 asking price. Ill use it for what its worth. Pity the folks at erstwhile Palm didn’t get their due in building a world class product to best use a really good OS.
How to use Skype with Touchpad?
This seems to be a common question asked. Here is how. You need to go into Services and there is a Skype as a choice. Setup your Skype account with Services. Once it is configured, you will access your Skype contacts via Audio and Video Calls just as you access your gmail contacts. Hope this helps. One other thing. You need to enable “View offline Contacts” option to see all your Skype contacts.
Similar to skype, other services are hidden from the main interface thanks to HP Synergy Services which aims to make things less about apps and more about the service offered.