It's surfaced at Computex and sneaked around the world, but last night in New York marked the first time we've seen the HP TouchPad in its ready-to-go state, a mere week away from its July 1 availability in the U.S. HP had a table with two demo units a Pepcom event downtown, and we got a brief tour and quick hands-on feel of the unit.
HP is promising many of the same appealing page-style multitasking elements and content-consolidation in the TouchPad's version of WebOS that made the Palm Pre so innovative when it debuted. The TouchPad is sleek to the touch, smooth all around, and medium-weight to hold, an extremely different product aesthetically than the Windows-based HP Slate 500.
The demo of the TouchPad showed its easy-to-flick and rearrange windows, as well as its app windows. The experience seemed somewhere between the Palm Pre and a BlackBerry PlayBook. "Full flash" was demonstrated by opening a movie information Web site and interacting with it, but like all Flash-enabled tablets thus far, there are bound to be limitations as compared with the experience on a laptop.
Most impressive was the TouchPad's photo-browsing app, which consolidates local and Web-hosted photos from multiple sources, including Facebook and Flickr. All photos are gathered in a universal album, achieving the same kind of clever trick that made the Palm Pre's social contact consolidation so compelling. Photos seen from Facebook even carry over comments. … Read more