The dust has settled and by now you should either be bitterly disappointed or overjoyed at the bargain you just snagged. If you were lucky enough to grab yourself a firesale HP TouchPad or are considering picking one up from a friend then you’ll probably be wondering exactly what use you’ll get out of it.
The lukewarm reviews received by the TouchPad shouldn’t put you off – those reviews took the previous price-point into account. Now you’ve got yourself a dual-core tablet with 1GB of RAM and at least 16GB of storage – and it cost you roughly the price of an eReader. Let’s see what this baby can do!
The Generic “Everywhere” PC
I’ve seen this mentioned a lot online, though much of the time the subject in question are cheap Android tablets – or “abominations” as I like to call them – not expensive dual-core WebOS devices. HP’s TouchPad could just as easily sit on the couch, and for $99 perform as a stellar 9.7″ touchscreen browser.
With a name like WebOS, you’d expect the TouchPad to chew through webpages – and it’s certainly not a bad browsing experience. Unfortunately, the browser isn’t quite fully HTML5 compliant though you have got a competent version of Flash running. I gave Flash a hard time in my Blackberry PlayBook article, and that’s because it’s presented as a great selling point. I’ve no doubts that the TouchPad would have sold just as quickly without Flash support at clearance prices, and I’m not going to complain about its inclusion either. At least you can browse Newgrounds, right?
The Perfect Comic Book Reader
The TouchPad isn’t in the same league as Android or iOS when it comes to apps, but there’s already a highly competent comic book reader available called Comicshelf HD. Both the 16GB and 32GB models provide enough space to load up on .CBZ files (comic book archives) and enjoy on a glorious 9.7″ capacitive touchscreen.
It’s not free (it costs around €1.50, depending on your region) but it’s not going to break the bank either. If you’ve been looking for the perfect device for reading comics then you’ve found it in your cheap-as-chips TouchPad.
A Glorified eReader
So it’s not quite an eReader – after all, the TouchPad uses a standard backlit LCD as opposed to e-ink as seen in the Kindle. However, there is already a Kindle app available for the TouchPad, and this provides a wealth of reading materials both for free and as separate purchases.
At the moment Amazon’s Kindle service trumps iBooks for content (quite considerably), so you’ll probably not miss Apple’s service too much if you’re already accustomed via an iPhone. PDF and standard document viewing is also supported, so you can check important documents or even our amazing guides out on the go too.
Oh, and the backlit display means you won’t be keeping anyone awake with a bedside lamp any more.
Games! Games! Games!
The fate of WebOS still hangs in the balance, and the likelihood of developers supporting the tablet in future apps and games looks slim. Not to worry – there are plenty of other games you can enjoy on a TouchPad for hours.
Flash works – so as long as there are browser-friendly versions of your favourites you will be able to play them. This goes for games like Bejeweled and other Pop Cap titles as well, provided a mouse isn’t imperative. There’s also a free version of Angry Birds HD, which you should avoid like the plague when trying to get some work done.
An Android Tablet Or Touchscreen Linux?
Did you know that a $1,500 reward has been offered to get the TouchPad running Android? Some developers have already started engineering Google’s tablet and smartphone OS to play nice with the TouchPad’s hardware, and it’s surely only a matter of time before real progress is made.
The 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor coupled with the on-board 1GB of RAM should handle Gingerbread just fine, with plans to introduce a Honeycomb port and far more optimistic Ice Cream Sandwich ports somewhere down the road.
Another exciting development is one blogger’s conquest of getting Ubuntu Linux running on the TouchPad. This is something you can do right now – with web browsers Firefox, Chromium and Flash plugins all working swimmingly. Not every Ubuntu app is supported yet, of course, but in time it’s possible we may see a TouchPad-optimized branch of Ubuntu.
Not bad for a $99 tablet!
If you were wondering whether your purchase of a TouchPad really was a bargain then hopefully I’ve answered that one here. Yes, it’s a great deal. $99 doesn’t get you much in the world of tablets, but the TouchPad is a surprisingly competent and pleasantly powerful piece of kit for the money you paid.
Keep your eyes peeled for an article next week about speeding up your TouchPad by installing custom patches and other tweaks.
Did you bite the bullet and buy a TouchPad? Good decision? Do you like WebOS? Did you decide against the purchase? Thinking of selling? Let us know in the comments below.