HP TouchPad - Apps

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


While the HP TouchPad does have a few oddities in its native selection of apps, most are impressive, making it a tablet that's more than capable of getting the job done straight out of the box.

Starting with the web browser, its general performance will be familiar to Android users out there with it offering a similar general feel in terms of speed and webpage rendering style. And, of course, it offers Flash support so can playback online video and even run online games. It's a slight oddity that new tabs/pages are opened as new cards, which stack on top of each other, but this certainly isn't any sort of hindrance. What does hold it back slightly, though, is that like Android tablets the browser just doesn't feel as snappy or fluid as on the iPad. It's better than Android, with a slightly more accurate feel to finger tracking when zooming and scrolling but it's still not quite up there with the best.

HP TouchPad 10

As for email, we already mentioned the funky triple column layout, but it's worth reiterating quite how useful this is. All the usual email account types are supported and the interface is otherwise nice and slick. You can swipe emails from a list to delete them and pinch to zoom to navigate individual emails; all intuitive stuff. However, it did seem a bit buggy with it regularly failing to update or download emails without a bit of a prod.

Interestingly, HP has gone with Bing Maps rather than Google Maps for its native mapping app. This was apparently because Microsoft offered more freedom to tweak the interface than Google would. By the by the results are impressive. Some of the standard maps aren't quite as pretty as Google's but they're functionally just the same and the isometric Bird's Eye view is very useful for helping you work out where you are. What you don't get, though, is Street View. There are arguments for and against both but Google probably edges it with Street View. Nonetheless, it's easy to pinch and scroll your way around, search for a location and get detailed directions for car, train and walking.

HP TouchPad 13

The Photos and Videos app is another example of the attention to detail HP has given the TouchPad in terms of styling. It looks superb and is a breeze to use, and even pulls in photos from online services like Facebook. All told, it's the best picture viewing app on a tablet.

You can also play videos through this app, though format support is poor. Mp4 and mov will work but DivX, mkv, and avi didn't play ball. A quick search of the app store revealed there was one app available that expanded this compatibility, and very well rated it is too, but it currently costs £5.58, which is a bit galling. Of course, the iPad can hardly play anything either but it does have the slick iTunes store to fall back on.

And talking of app stores, the TouchPad doesn't hold up all that well on this front. What apps there are on the HP App Catalog tend to be very good and HP has done an excellent job of making them easy to find, particularly thanks to its own 'app magazine', Pivot. This provides guides and other editorial content to put apps into context, making it easier to work out which might be for you. Ultimately, though, the volume of content just isn't there, trailing both iOS and Android.


June 30, 2011, 1:36 pm

You need to correct the first paragraph: "we had a chance to have a look at the final design of the iPad" - pretty sure you mean TouchPad. You'll lose some clickthrough revenue...

A Scotland

June 30, 2011, 1:43 pm

It is interesting that TR continue to place such a high emphasis on the absence of 3G. How many people out there actually pay for a separate 3G card for their laptops or tablets?

I seem to recall that TR described the initial wifi only iPad as pointless because of this omission, but my understanding is that the majority of sales are the wifi only models. This makes sense to me as I don't actually know many people who could justify paying extra for a 3G sim card.

I wonder if it is a big deal for journalists due to the nature of their work and so journalists assume it is also a big deal for everybody else.

Not having a go just genuinely curious. I may well be wrong and the odd one out but would be interested to know.


June 30, 2011, 2:10 pm

Oops! A last minute rewording of that opening paragraph ended up with it not making sense. Apologies.


June 30, 2011, 2:16 pm

An interesting point. It's almost certainly the case that as journalists we do attach more weight to such things but nonetheless, there are vast swathes of the population that regularly commute by train where it comes in very handy, and there are of course many other such examples.

Also, it's not that we absolutely feel it has to have Wi-Fi, merely that it's regrettable that currently the option isn't there.


June 30, 2011, 2:21 pm

Coer blimey, I'm not having a good day of it so far, am I. I of course meant to say "it's not that we absolutely feel it has to have 3G".

A Scotland

June 30, 2011, 3:08 pm

I wonder how long before they put wifi on trains as standard...

richard smith

June 30, 2011, 3:52 pm

@ A Scotland - I know 6 people with an ipad all of them have wi-fi only models, most of them use it in the office on the tube or at home. One of them uses it on the train but he just downloads stuff to read off line.

I had the original Palm Pre which was an awesome phone, well I say awesome phone the hardware was just about passable at the time but the OS (Palm WebOS as the time) was in my opinion class leading - true multi tasking, the very fact it never had to be shown a cable to charge or sync calender and contact etc was just amazing and that was V1.4.5.

I am now on a Galaxy S2 as my contract came up for renewal and went from a £35 pm contract for the Pre to £27 for the G2. Would have stuck with my Pre had it not been for the battery lasting 4hrs max and been dropped too many time to mention (slider going) and as O2 don't stock any other WebOS phone (and they are not getting the Pre3) went to G2. Will the Pre 3 be available from anyone. G2 is excellent hardware, but I'm not that in love with Android just seems there is an extra couple of taps to do task.

So in answer to the question will anyone buy the tablet and the phone I probably would if the phone was available from someone, but as HP promised it for summer and summer is nearly over and it has yet to even appear unlocked on their website let alone on a carrier.

Come on HP you paid the money for an excellent OS - do it justice.

Ian Yates

June 30, 2011, 7:20 pm

Summer is almost over? Where are you from? Here in the UK Summer is officially June, July and August.

I agree WebOS is/was an amazing OS. It'll be a shame if HP can't do something with it.

Also, I have a WiFi-only Asus Transformer and just tether it to my phone if I need the Internet - one bill but all the freedom.

Chatan Mistry

July 26, 2011, 2:18 pm


This is a great and balanced review. Well done guys.

I've had the tablet for a couple of weeks now, and I've currently got the original Palm Pre as my mobile phone which I've been using for about a month.

On the whole, I've been very disappointed by the TouchPad. The hardware itself is nice and the OS is excellent. But it is SO SLOW! Navigating the OS can become jerky and when you do anything remotely intensive like web browsing (which is excellent otherwise - it's a great compromise for the lack of apps) it grinds to a halt. If you put it next to a iPad/iPad 2, it looks terrible.

I originally thought the bad performance was due to indexing that the device might be doing. But alas no - a week later it's still slow.

My recommendation for anyone is to wait to see what HP do. There is a 4G version of the TouchPad due later in the year with a faster processor, but I think the key is to see whether HP spend time optimising the OS for performance. I cannot believe a dual-core CPU would be this taxed by the OS this way. My Palm Pre was a little slow, but that's a single-core processor and it's a couple of years old so it's understandable. This is brand new hardware and it feels work

HP - sort yourself out! Oh, and whilst you're at it, check the spelling of buttons on your GUI, You shouldn't be having spelling errors in the OS! (hint: look at he toggleAll button in the email client!)


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