HP TouchPad vs the iPad 2: And Fight!

HP recently announced that their Touchpad tablet computer will be available for order on June 19, with prices identical to a similarly configured iPad 2. Sales of the TouchPad will be looked at closely as the answer to a very big question: Did HP make a mistake paying 1.2 billion dollars for Palm?  Palm’s share of the smartphone market has been dropping steadily.  According to ComScore, for the three months ending in Feb 2011, Palm had 2.8 percent of smartphone sales, a decline from 3.9 percent the quarter before. When HP bought Palm, one of the prime assets was considered to be its well-reviewed WebOS software, which the TouchPad uses.  Prior to and shortly after the purchase, HP was taking a multiplatform strategy to tablets, planning on offering the same tablet in Windows, Android, and WebOS versions.  Then HP announced that it was dropping both the Android and Windows versions and concentrating on WebOS.  The wisdom of that choice will also be seen in the TouchPad sales figures.

So how does the system itself compare?

Feature Apple iPad2 HP TouchPad Winner
Processor Apple A5 dual core 1ghz Snapdragon 1.2 ghz dual core Tie
Screen Size 9.7 inch 9.7 inch Tie
Screen Resolution 1024×768 1024×768
Screen Proportions 4:3 4:3 Tie
Size 7.31×9.5x.35 (24.3 cu.in) 7.48×9.45x.54 (38.17 cu. In.) IPad 2. Apple’s thin profile wins.
Weight 1.3 lbs 1.6 lbs iPad2
Battery Life ’10 hours’ ’10 hours’ Tie
Cameras 0.3 mp front, 5 mp rear 1.3 mp front Although HP has a better front-facing camera, it has no rear facing camera at all so advantage Apple
Carriers at Launch Verizon, AT&T None (AT&T in future)
Network 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth. WiFi, Bluetooth.(future 3G or 4G)
iPad2 unless you are certain that you want a wifi-only device.
Storage 16,32, or 64 gb. 16 or 32gb
iPad2 for having a 64gb option.  HP should have included a SD card slot to fix this.
Tablet-Specific Apps 60,000+ 100+ IPad2 (note 1)
Price (note 2) $499/599 $499/599 Tie
Multivendor Platform No No Tie
Flash Support No Yes

(note 1) As a relatively new OS it would be expected that WebOS would have fewer apps.  However, unlike Android, WebOS is a single vendor platform, so when (or if) developer support is more of an open question.

(note 2) Comparisons are for a 16 and 32 gigabyte wifi-only configurations, the only ones available at present from HP.

The bottom line is you have got to really want WebOS to think that this is a better tablet.  Pretty much everything else is a push.   Is WebOSreally that desirable?  It does have a smooth interface and flash support and some nice built in utilities for basic functions.  It also has a nice notification system, which Android also has and which iOS has just announced that it will be adding in version 5.  One of the reasons people shy away from Apple is that they are uneasy about being tied into just one company.  But WebOS is pretty much HP only.  Will they feel like they are jumping from one single vendor lock-in to another?

Those simply looking for a non-Apple solution might want to look at our similar comparison of the Motorola Xoom.

Another take away from this story is how identically HP mimicked Apple’s prices.  If HP felt that there was a way to beat Apple on price, they would have taken it.  But it would seem that Apple’s (i) huge economies of scale in buying components and (ii) leverage over assembly firms makes them unbeatable on price.  So firms are settling on matching Apple on price and hoping to get the sale on some other criteria such as WebOS.

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    • Dobby on June 10, 2011 at 2:00 PM
    • Reply

    The main differentiating factor is webos. I have 2 Apple computers at home and would probably own an iPhone had it been offered on Sprint when it first came out. I’m neither a fanboy or a hater. However, having played with iPhones and having bought and iPad as a gift to my fiance, I can honestly say that I prefer the webos platform and think it will tranlate well to a tablet. Webos is much easier to use than the iPhone and iPad OS. It is more intuitive and simply does more. Granted, there are not as many apps to choose from, but webos has most of the ones you will actually use. Apps might be a factor now, but I don’t think it will remain a factor. Additionally, the Touchpad will work seamlessly with other webos devices, such as the Pre. I’ve used the original Pre since it came out 2 years ago. I’ve even had friends ditch their iPhones after using my Pre. Seriously.

    That being said, I am waiting to see if Sprint will carry one of the new webos phones (Pre3 or other) before I buy the Touchpad. If they don’t, then a main selling point for me will be gone.

    • Jack on June 12, 2011 at 1:02 PM
    • Reply

    The Touchpad has 1.2 ghz processor vs. the 1ghz in the ipad2 – sounds like advantage Touchpad to me.
    Touchpad will use Synergy to sync devices over the air, something ipad2 can’t do until the icloud is added in six months – advantage Touchpad.
    Touchpad will bluetooth connect to your phone allowing you to use the Touchpad as the phone – Advantage Touchpad.
    Touchpad will also show your text messages without killing the current app. Touchpad has touch to share, ipad2 does not.
    Tuochpad will videoconference over the phone connection not just wifi.

    As far as the app count for the Touchpad I have yet to see a count, not sure where this 100+ number comes from. As for Apple’s 65k that beats by a couple miles, but not sure how many of those are actually useful.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Let me address them.

      First, if we were talking about for example just intel processors then a difference of 20 percent in clock speed is signifigant. With the ARM processors there is the big factor of the support silicon around the ARM processors. That can make a huge difference in the real performance. I deliberately did not want to give readers the impression that they should be looking closely at clock speed when comparing smartphone SOC chips.

      Synergy is something mostle linked to WebOS so I pretty much included it with the statement that the question is whether you want WebOS.

      The iPad 2 also supports bluetooth and I did not want to get too far into the details of software features when comparing the two tablets. Again if you like the feature set of WebOS then you have a reason to want the Touchpad.

      The same goes for notifications (to be added in iOS 5) and touch-to-share. The feature set of WebOS deserves to be looked at. If you find it desirable then the Touchpad is your first and only choice.

      100+ was mostly a way of saying a few but not a lot. I will agree that most of the 65k iTunes apps are junk.

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