Apple iPad vs HP TouchPad

The big event in San Francisco has hit and finally we know all about the HP TouchPad and all its webOS 3.0 glory. As usual on Pocket-lint, we can’t resist looking at a spec sheet without opening up our files and pulling out a gadget with which it’s going to be competing. Judging by the size and shape of this latest tablet PC, that competitor is going to be none other than the Apple iPad.

So, how does the HP TouchPad compare? Is it just as smooth and swanky, is it a pain to carry around and, ultimately, which is the one you should be spending your hard earned cash on? Keep reading to find out.

Dimensions

Tie: Apple iPad
242.8 x 189.7 x 13.4mm, 680g/730g (Wi-Fi/3G)

Tie: HP TouchPad
240 x 190 x 13.7mm, 740g


Well, that’s pretty damn similar. So similar, that we’re going to call this one a dead heat. One could quibble about a 0.3mm here or 10g there but the fact is that these two tablets have an almost identical physical profile. If you’re considering the iPad but really hoping for a viable alternative, the HP TouchPad isn’t going to let you down in this department.

Display

Tie: Apple iPad
9.7", 1024 x 768, LCD with IPS

Tie: hp TouchPad
9.7", 1024 x 768, LCD with IPS


Right. So, another tie then. Nothing at all to separate these two with the same display size, same screen resolution and same LCD technology, including the IPS which gives them both a nice wide viewing angle so you can stun your colleagues with your bar charts and wow your friends with Angry Birds on the big screen - provided there’s a webOS 3.0 version of the game, of course.

Engine Room

1st: hp TouchPad
Qualcomm APQ8660, 512MB RAM

2nd: apple iPad
Apple A4 chip, 256MB RAM


Okay, ready for the heavy stuff? So, both tablets run a system on a chip - as most mobile devices do these days - but before we delve into what makes up the APQ8660 and A4, we can at least see that the TouchPad wins out on memory. It has double the RAM. So, advantage HP.

As for the CPUs, the A4 contains a single core ARM Cortex A8 that runs at a maximum clock speed of 1.0GHz. Whether Apple actually lets it do so is another thing. Meanwhile, the TouchPad features a dual core Scorpion CPU capable of getting up to 1.2GHz. However, because of the multicore set-up, it’s been estimated that it could operate effectively up to 2.4x faster than the ARM chip.

Last of the bunch is graphics. The A4 contains a PowerVR SGX535 GPU while the APQ8660 has an Adreno 220 doing the work. Now, while they’re probably just names to most people, the facts are that the Adreno 220 is, again, around twice as powerful as the A4. So, all in all, this is a large coup for the TouchPad which, if all put together correctly, should offer double the performance potential over the Apple iPad. In fact, the only thing that might edge it in the engine room department is the Tegra 2 system, but we’ll leave that fight until the iPad 2 comes out.

Storage

Tie: apple iPad
16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash

Tie: hp TouchPad
32GB or 64GB flash


After the a solid difference in the engine room category, we’re straight back to a dead heat. Interestingly, the HP TouchPad doesn’t have any expandable storage - something we’ve expect from Apple for a while now but not the run of the mill for competing devices.

Battery

1st: apple iPad
10 hours video

2nd: hp TouchPad
8 hours video


To be fair, HP says that the TouchPad will give you equal to or more than 8 hours of video, while Apple’s claims “up to 10 hours” for video and only “up to 9 hours” of 3G browsing. In practice, we might find that it’s more or less the same but, on grounds of pure potential, we have to give this round to the iPad. We’ll let you know how they compare once we get the TouchPad into the Pocket-lint review labs, but for now it’s the iPad that comes out on top and, when you’re talking a long haul flight, you’re going to need as much battery life as you can get your hands on.

Software

1st: HP TouchPad
webOS 3.0

2nd: Apple iPad
iOS 4.2


The software fight is always a tough one to call because there’s always a certain degree of subjectivity in the outcome for each user. What we’ve seen from the HP press conference is that anything the iPad can do, the TouchPad can as well, and sometimes even better. There’s wireless printing; really good integration of the apps; phone to tablet communication, if you happen to own a Palm handset; the Synergy syncing system and the nail in the coffin is the all important browser with Flash Support. Combine this with the multitasking power of the dual core processor and you’ve got the makings of a truly great OS. Perhaps the one area where Apple has the edge is the Games Center for online app play but that’s about it. Oh, that and the massive elephant in the room that is...

Apps

1st: Apple iPad
Lots and lots and lots

2nd: HP TouchPad
Not that many


We’ve rather lost count of how many apps you can get from the Apple App Store but there’s at least 100,000 available. Now, we’re well aware that there’s a world of homebrew goodness that you’re bound to be able to hack onto the TouchPad with the simplest of ease but, frankly, as great a community as Palm has, it just doesn’t compare with the juggernaut that is the iOS app business. One of the reasons that the original Pre never quite made it was that it never garnered as much developer support as it could of, if timing had been better, and probably the real test for HP is being able to get them back to support the TouchPad.

Connectivity

1st: HP TouchPad
Wi/3G/BT/mUSB/NFC

2nd: Apple iPad
Wi/3G/Bluetooth 2.1


It’s probably not the most important category to win, this one. So long as you’ve got 3G and Wi-Fi, you’re basically covered and both of these two tablets do. All the same, the TouchPad edges it with a non-proprietary hard connector system in the shape of a micro USB port as well as the interesting trinket that is the NFC technology, which allows you to pass information between your tablet and a Palm phone - if you happen to have one. The only downer is that the first version of the HP tablet out will be Wi-Fi only. You’ll have to wait until pretty much the autumn of 2011 for mobile broadband. How many devices will have surpassed it by then?

Extras

Tie: Apple iPad

Tie: HP TouchPad


One of the nice features of the TouchPad is the tie up that HP has with Beats by Dr Dre. The result is that the audio is just about as pumped as you’re going to get from a flat device. It’s got in-built speakers as well as improved sound quality thanks to a general importance placed on audio in the way that the hardware is put together. On top of that, there’s also a nice flashy LED to let you know when you’ve got a notification of some kind and there’s also Touchstone compatibility for all your wireless charging needs.

What Apple has over its competitor is basically the fact that it’s Apple. We know that it works, we know that it looks good and feels great in the hand and you also get the satisfaction that you’re buying into a hugely successful ecosystem that’s not going anywhere - even if it is going to consume your life and possibly even your soul. What's more, there's so much accessorising you can do that it doesn't bear thinking about.

Imaging

1st: HP TouchPad
1.3MP front facing webcam

2nd: APPle iPad
Um...


Bit of a surprise that the TouchPad didn’t follow the same suit as the other tablet makers looking to take on Apple by including both a front and back camera but, on reflection, the company picked the right one of the two. The webcam, although at a bit of a disappointing level of resolution, is going to come in very useful for making video calls - something that the tablet people are saying is a major function for these large mobile devices. Doubtless, the iPad 2 will have something similar up its sleeve for all that FaceTime calling that the Jobs wants you to do but, for now, this one belongs to HP.

Price

Apple iPad
Wi-Fi: £429/£499/£599, 3G: £529/£599/£699

HP TouchPad
Unknown


Apple has actually done a remarkable job of keeping its prices down on the iPad. You only have to look at the competition to see that they’ve been struggling to match it. Sadly, for the time, we don’t know how much HP is going to charge, so we’ll have to leave this one.

Conclusions

1st: HP TouchPad

2nd: Apple iPad


As it stands, the HP TouchPad, on paper, looks to be a much better device. It’s just as good looking and svelte as the Apple darling, it has an equally pleasing display and an arguably better piece of software running the show. The killer blows though are the full web browsing, the webcam and the fact that it’s twice as powerful which really does make a huge impression. In fact, the only area of major concern is going to be the modern app support going into the future. Now that HP is in charge, though, there should be some more confidence in the brand as far as the developers go.

Were it out today, we’d tell you to buy the HP TouchPad but there are a couple of problems. The first is that it’s going to work best with a Palm handset and, if you don’t have one of those, it’s going to be a bit of an annoyance. The real issue though is that it’s not out until the summer of 2011 and, by that stage, there’s going to be a bigger, badder iPad on the streets. It might not be quite as powerful on paper but it’ll doubtless have a webcam and probably an astounding screen as well and that could be the real thorn in HP’s side.

So, the bottom line is this. The only people that are going to buy the HP TouchPad are going to be people who already have Palm phones and the people with Palm phones were going to buy this anyway. Anyone with an iPhone will buy an iPad and anyone undecided or with an Android handset will buy whatever has a better spec come the summer, and it’s not going to be HP’s device. So, come to think of it, this article could have been a lot shorter. You skipped straight to the conclusion though, right?

Are you an iPhone user who's actually quite interested in a TouchPad or are you an unimpressed Palm person? Let us know in the comments.