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August 7th 2011 2:18 pm

So I succumbed to the TouchPad discount, but I'm underwhelmed...

As the proud owner of a MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad 2, it's safe to say I love Apple products. But when people call me a fanboy, it ticks me off: I don't just like Apple products because I'm some brainwashed zombie; it's because I admire the elegance, design, breadth of apps, and focus on the user experience that their products embue.

That being said, I'm always curious about the other products in the technology space... is this Android phone more likely to suit my needs? is there a better tablet on the market than the iPad?
A few months ago, a product that we now know as the HP TouchPad piqued my interest. After reading so many laudatory reviews about webOS on mobile phones, the fact that it was now coming to a 10" tablet made me that much more interested. Plus, the fact I never really had the chance to take the OS for a true test drive was making the TouchPad starting to look like a more viable option.

When the TouchPad reviews started hitting the interwebs, it was definitely disappointing to discover that the performance was sluggish and overall "not worth the money (at $499 for the 16 GB)." The consensus seemed to be that perhaps if HP worked out the kinks software-wise and shaved $100 off the pricetag, it'd be a win.

Fast forward to this past week: HP releases 3.0.2, the promised software-bug-fix extravaganza, and moreover offers $200 off the tablet (40%!). With a 14-day return policy as a safeguard, I couldn't help but resist the deal on the 10" tablet. At 300 bucks, this thing's gotta be worth it's value, right?

Here's where I stand right now after two days of fiddling around with this thing:

* The bezel/cards UI is awesome.
* Syncing music with HPPlay is super simple-- wouldn't mind the workaround whatsoever.
* It's pretty damn hefty. Makes my iPad 2 feel almost lightweight.
* The screen and iPhone 3G-ish style back attract fingerprints like its their job.
* There is a paltry selection of apps.
* BeatsAudio means nothing.
* Skype integration is neat.
* iPhone apps are iffy at best when scaled to the iPad. webOS phone apps are not even manageable when scaled to the TouchPad (basically, no x2 button).
* etc.

But, as an iPad owner, I'm kind of confused what I can do with this thing:

With my iPad, I enjoy news apps like Pulse, Reeder, and the New York Times. As far as I can tell, there are no such apps for the TouchPad (yes, I know there's USA today but c'mon). And while there is a New York TImes phone app, it does not scale full-screen which is miserable.

As an iPad owner, I enjoy playing games like NFS and Cut the Rope. Again, a far as I can tell, there are no superb TP games.

As an iPad owner, I love consuming media: HBOGO, Netflix, Hulu +, etc. But again, as far as I can tell there are no viable options (flash performance is slow, sorry).

Aas an iPad owner, I can read any ePub I desire... control my Apple TV... using the iWork suite on the go. Can I do those with the TouchPad (minus control Apple TV, of course)?* (* serious question)

I guess I'm just kinda confused with what I can/should be doing with this thing. Are there some killer apps I'm missing? Are there nifty features that truly help it stand out?

I want to like this thing, I really do, but as it stands now I'm going to be making a trip back to Best Buy sometime in the next twelve days.

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4 answers

I'm a Google guy through and through, and the TouchPad has already converted me from Honeycomb. The first thing I did was update to 3.0.2 and install Preware, which allowed me to install the 1.5 GHz overclocked kernel. The thing freaking flies.

App-wise: I use Tea Reader for RSS/Google Reader sync and it works like a charm. You want Spaz HD for Twitter and for cloud storage (free 50GB account for TouchPad users.) ReadList is a fantastic, simplistic app for ReadItLater.

The killer concept with the TouchPad is the way the user manipulates the UI. It's amazing. Panels (or whatever the hell theyre called) in Enyo are ingenius, and so many apps are using them well: aside from the ones I mentioned above, Glimpse and even the native Email app are great examples.

Speaking of OOTB apps, Synergy/Messaging is amazing. So is the browser.

So far I have to say I'm extremely impressed. Give me more apps (especially for consuming media and podcasts) and I'll be totally sold.
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I think your opinions of the device are very fair. Right now the biggest downfall this thing has (aside from the occasional glitch) is the lack of apps. To answer one of your questions: No, you're not missing any killer apps.

The Touchpad is HP's first generation tablet. It may surpass the iPad 2 in a few areas, but not many. I'm happy with the hardware, I think too many people concentrate on aesthetics and thickness. Ultimately it doesn't have the content that iOS provides.

Legacy mojo apps (apps strictly javascript/css/html 5) do not scale as you have mentioned. PDK apps (C++) like games do scale, so they are not as bad of an experience. Why they haven't done a 2x option like Apple has I do not know, short of patent issues or just plain lack of man-power for development.

The good news here is that it will only get better. I have a 32gb Touchpad and I got it for 2 main reasons. It was $200 off $600 (33% off on new tech, hell yeah). The other reason is that I just really enjoy the webOS interface and I feel like once the apps come and I've invested my time and money in this platform, it will be worth it.

Here's hoping HP can make webOS a success.
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The touchpad is one month old. As far as I remember, in its first month the ipad was also lacking a lot of apps. Give it some time maybe. For example, I know that PReader for touchpad is on its way for your epub reading needs. You can try the alpha version by installing it from preware. Seems like it will even get a nook account sync.

Plenty of dev is happening right now in the touchpad community, so hold on a little, remember the state of the first ipad when it was released and you may like it more.

And webos UI is addicting.
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the lack of office editing tools is a huge hole in the app catalog. I'm starting to have flashbacks to the original Pre having the same promise. HP needs to throw a ton of money and incentives at quickoffice and get that feature ASAP. After that, we do need a TP version of major news papers like the NYTs and Washington Post

We can all see this but HP must be walking around with blinders on. It's pretty sad. And the soft launch of the touchpad, veer, and Pre 3? just sad. The reason Apple sells products like hot cakes, they announced a product, build the buzz, and release it within 2 weeks (the first iphone being the exception). The buzz of the Pre 3 and Touchpad didn't survive 3 - 4 months beyond the ppl who were going to buy it anyway.

HP needs to create the buzz like they did in Feb, advertise that it's coming soon (2 weeks) and then continue to run ads everywhere. That's what Apples does and it works pretty damn well.

If HP couldn't have done this, then they should not have announced these products in Feburary. They should have had the event in May. Release the Veer that day, The touchpad and Pre 3 on the same day. and that should have been the worst case. Best case, the 2 week period I mentioned above.

Get it going HP! webOS is too powerful and influential to die on the table.
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