HP TouchPad Quick Review


There's lots of articles out there now reviewing the TouchPad, so I won't cover that stuff. I'll just rant and rave about the things that pissed me off or impressed me.


* The case is chunky, clunky and plasticky.

* The volume button isn't set in the slot perfectly, so it rattles.

* The case itself isn't sealed perfectly, so it creaks as you hold it and let go of it.

* The screen is generally ok, but in the dark you can see 'stage lighting' effects from the side.

* Despite the fact that I have several different types of USB chargers - including a half dozen or so iPad white bricks - the only thing that'll charge the TouchPad is the included plug.

* Two real speakers are nice, I don't even mind that they're set in a bit.

* It'd be awesome to have a Touchstone so I wouldn't have to plug the tablet in... I don't want to pay for it now, but maybe in the future...


* The OS crashed and reset on me a half-dozen times so far. I was doing something strenuous like logging into Twitter. (Doh!)

* At first it seemed snappy, but that's just the card-swapping shell, the apps so far have been quite laggy.

* Every 'tap' on the screen shows a little ripple animation. This would be fine, but sometimes it animates yet the thing you clicked on didn't respond. So you *know* you clicked accurately, but since the app didn't respond, it exaggerates any small lags in the UI. (Or the opposite - it shows you how ridiculously badly coordinated you are since you can see how far you missed the target, yet it still takes you three tries to hit it.) I also can't seem to find a way to turn this off.

* This isn't really HP's fault, but the Amazon Kindle app is just a placeholder(!!) for now. They'll do an over-the-air update to install a real app supposedly sometime soon. That's annoying.

* All the support stuff is geared towards the Pre and phones. I ran across an app listed on the HP webOS site and the way to install it was to 'send it to your phone' or to 'search for it in the App Catalog.'

* As expected, there's very few apps in the catalog right now. That'll change.

* App Catalog needs to have a filter for just TouchPad apps - especially since there's no 2X magnify feature for older apps created for phones - those apps run in a small phone-like rectangle in the middle of the screen.

* There's a thriving WebOS Hacker community that's just starting to rev up on the TouchPad - I enabled "developer mode", then used the SDK from my Linux box to log into the tablet and download/install the homebrew "Preware" from WebOS Internals. And homebrew isn't a euphemism for pirated apps either - there's a thriving dev community too. Most stuff, again, is for phones.

* Swiping up from the bottom as opposed to clicking the physical home button (which is hard to find and hard to press anyways) is really sweet. I also like the flick upwards to get rid of 'cards' as well - rather than looking around for a close button. I just wish the left/right swiping did something as well.

Web Browser

The browser is Not Good. There are tons of little problems with it. I thought Android's browser was user-hostile and hard to use... turns out it's a dream compared to the TouchPad's. Considering the platform is called freakin' WEB-OH-ESS, this is a little disappointing to say the least.


* Web pages are able to scroll left and right even if there's no content (then it snaps back in place) - Why? So annoying trying to simply scroll down - the page wobbles all over the place.

* New web pages take forever to load up. The browser desperately needs tabs, hardware acceleration and pre-loading.

* For some reason scrolling events aren't firing - which makes things like JQuery Waypoints not work. No infinite scrolling is a real pain.

* Font rendering is Not Good. Wikipedia looks pixellated unless zoomed way in. I'm not sure there's even any other fonts loaded on the thing except for the default Palm ones... I mean, I like those fonts, but on every web page?!?

* Every time you access a page which has an Open Search meta tag, you get prompted to add it to your search box, and then it remains stuck to the top of the screen even if you don't *want* to add the search, and close the page/browser. I don't think I realized how many websites out there include that header.


If you were waiting for an iPad killer, you've got some more time to wait. WebOS is definitely developer friendly - being able to SSH into my tablet without any sort of "jailbreaking" is exactly how it should be - but the rough areas in the user experience is going to kill the platform unless they clean it up quick.

The hardware needs a re-do, a massive drop in price, and HP desperately need to improve the browsing experience, and fast. Anyone beyond the most fervent early adopter would be very disappointed with their experience after opening their new TouchPad - as opposed to the iPad, which continues to delight and amaze customers for weeks after purchase. It's not a complete disaster, but HP has a lot of work to do, and I hope they realize it.


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