HP TouchPad hands-on

HP launched the TouchPad at the beginning of the February alongside the HP Veer and the HP Pre3. We know we’ve already brought you a first hands-on of it at the time, but now the dust has settled we were able to get a second longer play with the new mini model at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and wanted to share that with you.

To many the HP TouchPad, will be the latest iPad wannabe, but it's much more than that.

It's clad in sleek, shiny piano black (that's going to smudge faster than you can say the word), it looks beautiful, and the webOS facility with emailing and web-browsing is married to true multi-tasking. 

Background notifications for new emails or messages pop up in the menu bar, and a quick prod will reveal who they’re from and whether you want to read them without switching apps. There’s also a dock at the bottom for frequently used apps.

Slightly smaller than an iPad, with a 9.7-inch display, the TouchPad has a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor – the first Qualcomm dual-core chip on the market, but not the last, and although we weren’t able to have a really good play with the device from what we saw demoed, and a quick play ourselves it felt fast and snappy.

Weight is around 700g meaning it won’t be too heavy to carry around and at 13.7mm thick it’s light too. The screen has a 1024 x 768 resolution. It has a front-facing 1.3-megapixel webcam for video-calling, Beats by Dr. Dre audio technology, and stereo speakers.

There's 1GB of RAM on-board, comes with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, and both Bluetooth 2.1 and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) connections can be enabled. And, as is the way with these things, this specific tablet carries a gyroscope, accelerometer and a compass.

When it comes to running apps, although the OS has moved on from that launched on the Palm Pre range, it’s functionality is the same.

That means tiles (or cards) that are displayed like a pack of cards with you swishing the ones you don’t want off the top of the screen.

With a new size means enjoying new apps, but also working with old apps, and we’re told (we didn’t see it in action) that apps designed for the Pre or Pixi models that aren’t updated will still run on the system, only in their original screen resolution – similar to the iPad when it runs iPhone apps.

Other features we like is the ability to, if you also have a HP Veer or a HP Pre3 to share web pages between the two devices simply by tapping the two together meaning you can be reading something on the phone and then carry on reading it on your tablet without having to email it to yourself – something we currently do with our iPad.

It’s a really neat feature, and that’s the biggest asset of the TouchPad and webOS, there are some really nice features with the core operating system that will impress once you’ve had a chance to use it. Thankfully HP looks to have fixed the build quality issues that plagued Palm. Now all they've got to do is convince app developers that they want to launch their apps on the webOS platform over other more successful operating systems like Android.

A Wi-Fi version of the TouchPad will be available in the summer, while 3G and 4G versions will be added to the range at a later date.