H-P Announces 'TouchPad' Tablet

Hewlett-Packard’s (NYSE:HPQ) Palm unit unveiled its long-rumored TouchPad tablet computer on Wednesday, powered by the WebOS mobile operating system, in addition to new smartphones, though it didn't give any pricing details.

At an event in San Francisco, former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein showed off the company’s first WebOS tablet, weighing in at 1.6 pounds and sporting a 9.7-inch display.

Seen as H-P’s answer to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, the tablet includes a 1.3 megapixel Web cam for video calling and utilizes H-P’s Beats Audio technology, which emphasizes sound quality.  The current iPad does not include a camera.

Also setting it apart from Apple iOS devices, it allows users to view Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) Flash content on the Web.

It also includes a Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon dual-core 1.2GHz processor and comes in two storage sizes: 16GB or 32GB.  Unlike other current WebOS devices on the market with slide-out physical keyboards, the HP TouchPad uses a virtual on-screen keyboard.

This keyboard is another feature setting it apart from other tablets.  Users have the ability to change the size of the on-screen keyboard and it includes a number row so users don't need to switch views so often.

A WiFi version of the TouchPad will be released this summer, said Rubinstein, followed by 3G and 4G versions.  Pricing, according to an HP press release, will be announced at a later date.

Also announced at the event was a new Palm Pre 3 device, which Rubinstein said has a larger 3.6-inch display than the original Pre, a higher-resolution camera, as well as an extra front-facing camera for video calling.

This model, he said, will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.4GHz processor and will be available this summer.  However, physically, it looks much like the original and second iteration of the Pre.

Adding a new model to the WebOS lineup, Rubinstein showed off the new, tiny H-P Veer.  Looking essentially like a tiny version of the Pre, it uses a fast 800MHz Snapdragon processor, has 8GB of storage and the same amount of RAM as the Pre 2.  This will be available in the spring, he said.

What might be most interesting with these new products, however, is how they can work together.

"The TouchPad and Pre 3 talk to each other. I can get my texts here, and I can also do phone calls on my TouchPad," said HP Product Management Director Sachin Kansal.

For example, Kansal demonstrated, if a user was on his TouchPad and received a text message on his Pre 3, a small notification would show up on the top right corner of his TouchPad's screen.

A bit late to the tablet game, HP is partnering with companies like Amazon for a new WebOS Kindle app, DreamWorks for movie titles, and Time magazine, hoping to catch up with the iPad as well as several Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android tablets that have been popping up over the last year.

TouchPad Vs. iPad

Does HP's TouchPad have what it takes to beat Apple's iPad?