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HP TouchPad - Performance & Verdict

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


The TouchPad does have a few tricks up its sleeve. Those stereo speakers play there part very well. They not only get loud but actually have a modicum of bass, and with their stereo arrangement they provide a surprising amount of depth and engagement to video viewing and enjoyment when listening to music.

HP TouchPad 6

Another bonus is inbuilt wireless charging. Like with third-party wireless charging solutions such as those from PowerMat, this allows you to simply place the tablet onto its dock (sold separately) in any orientation you choose and it will start charging. Unlike those third-party solutions, though, the inbuilt solution on the TouchPad means you don't have to put up with bulky extra cases – it's a real boon for casual, around-the-house use.

HP TouchPadHP TouchPad 1

What's more, when mounted on its dock, the tablet will go into a presentation mode, showing a nice large clock display, a slideshow of your pictures or even your messages. The rather iPad 1 style case is also rather neat, with it snugly protecting all sides of the tablet and integrating a stand adjustable to three different angles.

Battery life is also decent. We regularly got three or four days of on and off use off a charge. It doesn't have the ultra longevity of the iPad when in standby (or in use for that matter) but if you're regularly dipping in and out of using it, it'll last longer than most Android tablets.

You can also use the tablet in conjunction with an HP phone, such as the Veer or Pre3, with the two seamlessly sharing information (thanks to the way Synergy works) instantly. You can even tap one on the other to make them copy content back and forth. The classic example of this is sharing a webpage; have the browser open on one device then simply tap them together and the same page will open on the other device – great for seamlessly continuing your reading. Sadly we weren't provided with either the Veer or Pre3 to fully test these features.

This partnership does highlight another of the TouchPad's problems, though; there's no 3G version. Yes, we know most people don't actually bother with 3G tablets but it's still a pain that it isn't an option. Instead you must piggyback of the 3G connection on a phone, using Wi-Fi tethering, if you want to get a data connection when out and about. It's a simple enough thing to setup but does often require an extra charge on your phone.

The penultimate nail in the coffin for the TouchPad, as it currently stands, is perhaps the most surprising; it's slow! Despite having a fast 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a respectable 1GB of RAM, the interface regularly grinds to a halt. Its fine up until you reach a certain threshold – say, having half a dozen apps open – then performance just drops off a cliff.

HP TouchPad 19

As with much of the tablet competition, though, the most troublesome issue for the HP TouchPad is less technical as it is financial. With it costing £399 for the 16GB version and £479 for the 32GB one, it essentially matches the pricing of equivalent iPad 2 models. While both have their pluses and minuses, the iPad's ubiquity and vastly superior app store means it wins hands down. Likewise, several of the more established Android competition would tempt us away, most notably the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.


When all is said and done, the HP TouchPad is a hard sell. It retails for the same price as Wi-Fi only iPads of the same storage capacity yet it's less robustly built, heavier, lacks a rear camera, is slow and has a vastly inferior quantity of apps to choose from. Its interface does have some great features, its powerful speakers are a boon, and it's more open customisable nature will appeal to those not wanting to be confined to the Apple way of doing things. But if we wanted to go for something that isn't an iPad, we'd opt for one of the Android tablet competition, which are better-established and offer greater choice.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 7
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Value 6


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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