Make no mistake: the iPad is a great device for what it is. But here at Top10, we are trained by ninja monks to look past Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field and recognise a better product when we see it. The HP TouchPad, which runs on the same webOS platform as the ill-fated Palm Pre, looks the part and may finally give what is doubtless a fantastic OS its due. Here are ten reasons why.
1. Faster, smarter
The TouchPad is the first device to use Qualcomm’s latest, snappiest Snapdragon processor yet – the APQ8060. This comes paired with an Adreno 220 GPU and 1GB of RAM – four times that of the iPad - to deliver the most powerful multitasking tablet yet, with unmatched 3D graphics processing for gaming and buttery smooth video playback in HD. The iPad can’t touch this.
2. UI to die for
webOS has a user interface that makes Honeycomb look like a bad metaphor for Windows 95 and makes iOS feel a been-there-done-that.
Not only does it ooze elegance, it scales beautifully on the TouchPad’s massive screen. Take the virtual keyboard, for example, which is resizable in small, medium and large to cater for even those who grew up near a nuclear plant. The iPad, meanwhile, only comes in extra large iPod Touch.
3. Front-facing camera
Unlike some devices, the TouchPad doesn’t cut corners with obvious features just so HP can fleece you for your roubles with another slightly updated version of its tablet a year later. No, that’s Apple’s job. A front-facing camera with video calling, is it so much to ask? HP, says no.
4. No multimedia apartheid
Apple may treat Flash like a redheaded stepchild, but the rest of the world knows better. Flash is ubiquitous and the dominant multimedia platform on the web. While we certainly have high hopes for the wondrous HTML5, we can’t fathom why you'd keep Flash out in the meantime. HP TouchPad supports Flash AND HTML5. Who says the two can’t co-exist?
5. It talks to your phone
Not only does the TouchPad automatically sync data with the Pre 3 (that would be HP’s upcoming, all-improved threequel to the Palm Pre), meaning you’re never too far from all your important data, it even receives calls and messages right on the device.
Why get up from your comfy sofa when you can answer your call and receive messages on the TouchPad? Did we mention it takes video calls too?
6. Just Type
Just Type takes the concept of universal search and gives you something better. Want to see if there’s any new mail from your chum? Just Type. Want to tweet how great your day has been? No need to launch the Twitter app. Just Type. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
If this were a feature in the iPad, it would be hailed the second coming. With webOS, innovation is not a feature, it’s just there for you to enjoy.
7. Sharing is caring
Speaking of innovation, and we do not use the word lightly, the TouchPad also features what HP calls ‘Touch-to-share’.
Suppose you’re browsing a website on your TouchPad and need to go out but can’t take the tablet with you. No worries. Simply touch your Pre 3 on the TouchPad and it will automatically load up the page on the handset. And you can do the same with documents, pictures, anything the Pre 3 can handle. Touch the iPhone 4 anywhere and it might as well cough and die.
8. Look mom, no wires!
Like the Pre, the TouchPad has its own wireless charging dock, the TouchStone. And by 'wireless' we mean no connecting bits to the tablet itself. Just place it on the dock and it will start charging, even when it’s inside its case. And while it charges, it will go into Exhibition Mode, which can display anything to your liking, be it a slideshow of your family photos, agenda of the day or your social network updates.
9. Wireless Printing
You don’t become the world’s largest technology company without selling a few printers along the way. And HP has sold millions, no wait, tens of millions – all of which will be compatible out of the box with the TouchPad.
10. ‘True multitasking’
This is not just some marketing jargon HP keeps throwing around. It’s actually true. There really is no mobile OS out there that does multitasking better than webOS. No one even comes close.
The ever-mesmerising ‘cards’ metaphor in webOS gives you an actual view of the apps you’re running, not just a set of icons of apps in limbo. Open an app related to one you were looking at before and it will automatically get ‘stacked’ with that app. If you need to, you can always relocate it to another stack or give it its own space. Switching between apps is simply a matter of flicking through the cards or stacks of cards and tapping the one you want to open. And once you’re done, just flick it upwards to throw it off the screen. That simple.
HP’s product manager Sachin Kansal sums it up best: “in webOS, multitasking was not an afterthought”. We couldn’t agree more.