Was buying a HP TouchPad the right decision? It was for me – how about you?

Steve Farnworth on how he's used his TouchPad every single day since he got it, and how he thinks 'webOS is a very nice piece of software to use'

HP TouchPad

When the HP TouchPad went on firesale at the end of August, there were a number of articles online which thought the purchase of a soon to be defunct tablet was a rather idiotic idea.
The arguments given were that people were buying them based solely on an automatic consumerist impulse at the price reduction and that was it.At its original iPad 2-competing price of £399, the value proposition (likewise with the BlackBerry PlayBook and Android Honeycomb devices) is quite frankly, pathetic. As has been stated time and time again, this isn’t the tablet generation, it’s the iPad generation.

The reasons for this are many and varied, but mainly boil down to the selection of apps available and the lack of OS polish on the other platforms.Apple has a stranglehold on the supply of components for consumer devices. This is one of the reasons why many other tablets and phones cannot hold a candle to Cupertino’s finest. They’ve spent the best part of the past decade building relationships with component suppliers, cutting deals and getting access to the prime cuts of silicon brilliance.
This means that pretty much every other product, from every other manufacturer will be slightly worse in most areas. A slightly worse screen, a slightly less software/hardware optimised processor and less RAM are usual problem areas.

This means that the only real differentiator for them is price, however, due to the aforementioned deals that Apple has and the volume discounts that come with them, other manufacturers just can’t compete.

HP TouchPadHowever, my main objection to the critics though is that the with the firesale, the value proposition of the TouchPad at the £89 price level is incredible – there aren’t a lot of pieces of consumer technology that can bring as much to the table for anywhere near the price. I, and I’m sure many others, didn’t buy it based on a consumer reflex, I couldn’t afford an iPad 2, so saw the potential in a piece of very good hardware, with solid software for a *very* low price.

  1. Yes, it takes an age to boot.
  2. Yes, an Android port might be a long way off.
  3. Yes, HP wont support webOS forever.
  4. Yes, there aren’t a lot of apps for it.

But do you know what? It was a great buy.Many commenters said that buyers would use it for two weeks and then get bored because of the lack of potential, or some hardware/software flaw would ruin the entire experience.This hasn’t happened.

I’ve used mine every single day since I got it. I even used it as my main device for several days whilst away from home, tethered via WiFi to my phone, and it coped extremely well.

Speaking of the phone, it’s a swanky Android number which has a 4.2” screen, slower processor, less RAM and on Pay as You Go would have cost over £450 when new (free on a 2 year plan though). The TouchPad has a 9.7” screen, a faster processor, more storage and, due to a recent software update, can answer calls from any Bluetooth-connected phone, but which is unable to connect over 3G, costs 5 times less.

HP TouchPad Launch

The HP TouchPad was launched on July 1st 2011 in the United States and July 15th in the United Kingdom

The battery life is fantastic, and whilst it weighs more than a lot of newer tablets, it’s not an uncomfortable device to hold for extended periods of time either.

webOS is a very nice piece of software to use, and whilst there are a few glitches here and there (which mainly arise if it’s been left on for an extended time with lots of apps/webpages open), there haven’t been as many as I’ve experienced in a similar timeframe with my Android Gingerbread-toting smartphone. On the topic of apps, there aren’t a lot, but there are enough in the key areas of web browsing, social networking and news delivery to keep you interested on a day-to-day level, and a few simple games, like the wildly popular Angry Birds, or something more sedate like solitaire, to keep it fun. The main draw is simple web browsing, and as a sofa-surfing device, it works really well.

Then we have the potential of other operating systems. Whilst an Android port hasn’t arrived in a fully-stable state yet, big strides are being made in that area by the CyanogenMod team and there’s clear progress to be seen, but if Google’s OS isn’t to your tastes, then rumours have it that HP is working to get a Windows 8 port onto the device.

So, two months after buying a piece of “doomed” hardware, do I have buyers’ remorse, or was it the best bargain this year? You might be able to gather I fall strongly into the former camp – but the question is now, if you bought one, how do you feel now? How have you put yours to use?