Tuesday, 20 December 2011

HP's 9.7-inch TouchPad: webOS 3.0 tablet with 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon, coming this summer


There she is, the HP TouchPad. It's the webOS slate we've been yearning for ever since probing (then) Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein on our first-ever Engadget Show, but sadly, it looks as if HP has yanked any and all Palm labeling from the final product. Introduced today in San Francisco as part of a newfangled webOS triumvirate, the TouchPad (previously known by Topaz) is shaped almost exactly like the iPad. It tips the scales at 1.6 pounds and measures 13.7mm thick, which is somewhat of a downer for those already put off by the heft found in Apple's slate. As we'd heard last month, HP's shipping this one with its own Beats audio engine, Touch-to-Share (a feature that lets users easily transfer a website, document, song, text or call from the phone to the tablet -- or vice versa -- simply by tapping the two devices together) and a huge reliance on the cloud. Also of note, Jon just mentioned that this is only the "first in the webOS TouchPad family," hinting that the Opal may be just around the bend.


Other specifications include webOS 3.0, "true multitasking," Touch-to-share, instant-on productivity, a 9.7-inch display (1024 x 768 screen resolution), a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon CPU (!), inbuilt gyroscope, accelerometer, compass and 16GB / 32GB of internal storage space. There's also a front-facing 1.3 megapixel webcam, support for video calling, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, A-GPS (3G model only), "twice the memory of a Pre 2" and a set of stereo speakers. Rubenstein claims that this here tablet is "screaming fast," and the software UI we're seeing looks downright luscious. There's a new paneled email application a Growl-like pop-up notification system, support for Skype calling, compatibility with Amazon's Kindle e-book store, plenty of cal / email integration courtesy of HP Synergy, a slick virtual keyboard, VPN support, wireless printing as well as Google Docs, QuickOffice, Dropbox and Box.net compatibility. One of the killer features that can't be found on a competing tablet right now is this one's ability to talk to the Pre 3 -- so long as there's a Touchstone involved, one can have their Pre 3 and TouchPad communicate, even piping over notifications and texts from the phone onto the slate. It's a brilliant idea, and we're obviously amped to see just how well it's implemented.

Over on the accessories front, there's a case / stand (which includes a handy flip-out kickstand for desk use), a wireless keyboard (yeah, this one!) and a new Touchstone dock that enables all of the wireless communication magic between webOS devices. If you're curious about specific models, the first out of the gate will be a WiFi only version, with 3G and 4G variants to follow suit in due time. As for the all-important pricing and availability? "Coming this summer," with pricing to be determined "at a later date." Bah, humbug!

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