HP TouchPad brings webOS to tablets

It should be the ideal OS for a tablet form, but has HP brought its webOS slate to the party in time?

Did someone say 2011 would be the year of the tablet? That’s right, everyone did. And today HP added its voice to the chant with the TouchPad – a webOS tablet that knocks the prototype Windows-based HP Slate of a couple of years ago into a cocked hat.

Although HP has decided to ditch the Palm name, the TouchPad is made not by its specs – although packing a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon chip, Beats by Dr Dre stereo sound, 1GB of RAM, 16-32GB of storage and the usual cluster of sensors into a 13mm slab shouldn’t be sniffed at – but by the OS displayed on the 1024x768 9.7in screen. It is, of course, Palm’s webOS, and it looks like an adulthood on tablets could suit the marriage of form and function very nicely.

All the old tricks of webOS – notably, Cards and Stacks – are present and correct, but the retuned operating system has added tablet-optimised notifications and some deft UI adjustments to make the TouchPad’s screen as alluring to eyes and fingers as the iPad, if not more.

Nice touches include a resizable keyboard (why didn’t we think of that?), wireless charging (via the Touchstone dock) and the by-now-requisite case/stand/keyboard add-ons to make sure your netbook never sees the light of day again.

HP has played to its strengths, too, and added wireless printing, backwards compatible with its recent printers. There’s video calling via a 1.3MP webcam, full-fat web browsing with Flash and touch-to-share, a physical bump sync to get your HP Pre 3 and/or Veer on the same page. Literally.

A Wi-Fi version will be heading Stateside in summer, with 3G (and 4G) versions to follow. No word on a European release yet, but it’s unlikely to be before that. Meanwhile, we’ll have some hands-on action very soon indeed.

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