I was fortunate enough to get in on the $100 HP Touchpad experience. I got it yesterday an played around with it most of last night.
My experienced is mixed. While I like the look and feel of the device (despite it’s plactic back), the hardware seems woefully under powered. Even out of the box, launching things like the configuration control panel and the wi-fi settings manager seem pokey. But I am jumping way ahead of the experience at this point…
When I received it I was impressed by the packaging. It looked like HP had, by all accounts, taken a cue from Apple’s legendary packaging team. It was slick and well thought out and the touchpad was well presented.
Once the box was opened, the instructions in the box said to fully charge the Touchpad before use. Really? It couldn’t come mostly charged like the iPad so I can use this puppy right way? So I charged it for a couple of hours and fired it up.
First it asked me for language and country and then wanted to connect to my wi-fi. Normally this would not be an issue, but as I MAC address filter my wifi network, I had to disable the MAC address filtering and then get it on my WPA2 secured network. The, after agreeing to the terms of service, it asked me for my webOS account credentials or to create a webOS account. The final step was to agree to the Google terms of service. One that was done it was up and running.
The first thing I tried was a simple web search. It worked well, but seemed a little pokey. Then I went to the “apps” section and went to the “apps catalog>” This is where the trouble began. Almost immediately I was greeted with a message “The action could not be completed. Try again later.” Great. So I try again. And again. And again. Like Pavlov’s dog I keep hiting it for a while. So I turn to the internet to see if anyone else had this issue. Yes…yes, they do. Conventional wisdom (and the forums) say a 24 hour wait is customary for this issue to resolve itself, so I decided to wait. The suddenly it worked!
I downloaded half a dozen apps to get started and to see what it could do. I downloaded Angry Birds, iheartradio.com, Pandora, USA Today and a few others. Then I exited out of the App Catalog to try these new found treasures. Suddenly I realize a couple of apps I forgot. So I went to go back into the App Catalog and was again greeted by the “The action could not be completed. Try again later” message.
Again I tried and try again and eventually I did get in. So something is very flakey with the app catalog that I will need to look into if it doesn’t resolve itself by tomorrow.
The Touchpad hardware seems slow. One I dig into it more, there are some tweaks I am going to try to getting it running a little better. IBut out of the box and with no other apps running it takes 15-20 seconds to even open the settings “app.” I do like the “cards” that it opens each browser/app in. I am also trying to figure out how to customize it a bit more.
One annoyance with the App Catalog is that there seems not to be a way to apply a filter so only the touchpad apps show. I mistakenly downloaded a few non-Touchpad apps and quickly deleted them. Unlike the iPad, which allows a user it increase the size of iPhone apps, the Touchpad does not have a method of taking advantage of the larger screen size for webOS phone apps. This is a big oversite in my opinion.
The selection of apps seems satisfactory, but I am hopefull that the rumors of a android emulator come try and this is developed sooner rather than later. If so, this will be a huge boon to the HP Touchpad crowd.
Finally, I hope HP learns something from this debacle. I hope they learn that they cannot compete with Apple with a new device at the same (or close) price point. Had HP introduced the Touchpad at $199 and made the difference up in the App Catalog, they might have had a chance against the iPad. It’s not that other companies cannot compete with Apple, it’s just that they cannot compete at that price point with Apple. Any competition will need to come in sub-$200 and make up any losses in the App marketplace.
Like Marlon Brando, the HP Touchpad could have been a contender. But it wasn’t really given a chance, and at $599 market entry point, it was fighting with one arm behind it’s back. May HP will revisit the Touchpad and rethink their market strategy and their decision to kill off the Touchpad. I hope so. Because at first blush, it looks pretty decent.