HP shows off TouchPad tablet, WebOS for PCs (live blog)
On Wednesday, HP will show off the products it has been working on since it acquired Palm last year, and we'll be there with live coverage.
Editor's note: This live event has concluded. You can replay our full coverage of the announcement in the Cover It Live module at the bottom of this post. To get the key details on what was announced--including the long-awaited TouchPad tablet, an upcoming version of WebOS for desktop and laptop PCs, a new version of the Pre phone, and the new Veer smartphone--.
What follows here is a collection of excerpts from the live blog with some of the newsier and more interesting entries. To get all the nitty-gritty details, reader comments, and our editors' witty banter, replay the live event in the player below.
A day after archrival Dell showed off some of its latest tablets, Hewlett-Packard will hold an event in San Francisco to give a look at some new WebOS developments, and this is the place to be for live coverage.
HP's event will kick off at 10:00 a.m. PT Wednesday in San Francisco, and I'll be there with live play-by-play coverage, accompanied by CNET's Eric Franklin and Donald Bell. The event is expected to provide one of the first looks at what HP has accomplished since bringing in Jon Rubinstein and the rest of the former Palm engineers, and could include tablets, new Pre smartphones, and maybe even printers.
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Transcript of live blog starts here (All entries are from Tom Krazit, unless where noted otherwise.):
10:04 a.m.: We're here at the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason Center on the north side of San Francisco, formerly known for hosting such awesome tech events as Oktoberfest. It took quite a while for everybody to filter in, so we're probably about ten minutes behind schedule.
10:05 a.m.: Looks like HP jumped the gun on its own event, btw. http://www.shopping.hp.com/notebooks;HHOJSID=XQQnNSGFb9K5b2TbYSnlyHRJ1N2nz7DvpLhVJ8vMttdCPhgNvs4G!278391064?jumpid=in_R329_prodexp/hhoslp/psg/lateralnav_notebooks
10:10 a.m.: It looks like HP pulled any of the new devices from that Shopping page, for a brief time there were listings for the TouchPad and other new devices that PreCentral got the drop on earlier today. From what I understand, their site is getting inundated at the moment, but earlier this morning they posted a few specs on the devices, and Robert Scoble also claims to have some information: http://scobleizer.com/2011/02/09/preview-of-hp-launch-today-smartphone-so-small-it-is-cool/
10:16 a.m.: Lights are dimming, music gets louder, I think it's showtime.
And Todd Bradley, leader of HP's client group, is out on stage.
10:17 a.m.: "I'd like you to think back to that moment in time when you experienced something for the first time," Bradley says. He's recounting some of his favorite first times, like driving an electric car and using the Halo videoconferencing systems. (I think he's censoring himself to a certain degree.)
10:18 a.m.: Technology companies get to create these experiences, he says, which is fun. HP is about creating amazing experiences, he says. They're showing off the Envy 14 on a slide behind Bradley's stage, as well as the Pavilion dm1.
10:19 a.m.: Bradley says we're going to see how HP has delivered new experiences for millions of people around the world, although if we're talking about tablets and smartphones, hard to understand how that's possible. He's now recounting HP's history of innovation, like pocket calculators, oscillators, ink-jet printers, and such. HP has 1 billion customers around the world, he says.
10:20 a.m.: He's talking up HP's global reach, saying they like to deliver "innovation at scale." HP shipped 120 PCs in the last 60 seconds, he claims.
10:21 a.m.: The size of the market for "connected devices" is "immense," Bradley says. "We're in the early stages of a market that's going to continue to grow in size, importance, and relevance for many years to come."
Palm time: since acquiring Palm, HP has blended HP engineers with Palm engineers to work on WebOS devices, and they've begun putting together some of the devices that the original WebOS team envisioned five years ago, he says.
10:23 a.m.: Developers are also part of this, with HP "making sure we keep the tools in the garage unlocked." David Packard, co-founder of HP, said that companies exist to make a contribution, according to Bradley. And when Bradley first started talking to Jon Rubinstein (then CEO of Palm), they thought they could make a contribution.
10:24 a.m.: Most people have multiple mobile devices, Bradley says. And at the same time there's a number of digital services and content that has been built around those devices, people accessing cloud content more than ever. However, no one has developed something that works ubiquitously across devices, Bradley claims, standing before a slide with prominent companies of the mobile Web.
10:25 a.m.: "Our intention with WebOS devices is to enable people to transform how they think, how they feel, and how they connect." It starts with unique technology and technology that will excite both consumers and developers, Bradley says.
10:26 a.m.: "You see it, and you know with certainty that progress is happening." Up next in the presentation? Jon Rubinstein, former president of Palm and current leader of HP's WebOS efforts.
10:27 a.m.: "It's great to be presenting for the first time as part of Hewlett-Packard," Rubinstein says, saying that Palm finally has the scale and reach to move WebOS out more broadly to the world. He's talking about Synergy: not the overused business term but the technology inside the Pre that connects updates and notifications between users and cloud services.
"Today marks an important new beginning," Rubinstein says.
10:28 a.m.: CNET's Bonnie Cha gets name-dropped from her original review of the Pre.
10:29 a.m. (from Donald Bell): Bonnie Cha is #1! Gets credit in presentation for her positive Palm review.
10:29 a.m.: Rubinstein's running through a series of platitudes from the tech media regarding WebOS. The team has been working on the user experience constantly, with over-the-air updates for games and business users.
10:30 a.m.: WebOS 2.1 is the most important release so far, he says. It takes the multitasking and notification features and takes them further, also adding 50 new features.
10:31 a.m.: "It's time to take things to a whole new level," Rubenstein said. As they considered which device to make next, they wanted to do something different. People are making larger and larger devices, but people want something with the power of a bigger device with a more compact design.
"So today, I want to show you how HP is thinking beyond by thinking small." He shows off the HP Veer, as the cameras pop.
10:31 a.m. (from Donald Bell): That thing looks like a choking hazard.
10:32 a.m.: It's somewhat like the Pre with a slider design that moves up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard, one of the best they've made, he says. 2.6-inch screen, a gesture area, and it supports Flash. Built-in GPS.
10:33 a.m.: It also has a 5MP camera, and a USB port. It supports HSPA+, Wi-Fi, 8GB of storage, and the same memory as the Pre 2. It's got the Snapdragon chip running at (I think) 850MHz. It can also be a hotspot for up to five other devices.
The Veer is to be available in early spring. No pricing released.
10:34 a.m. (from Donald Bell): I gotta say, though, with the trend of smartphones getting as big as tablets, going small could be a good strategy.
10:34 a.m.: Now we're moving into a "work" related portion of the presentation. People have slightly different needs for work, needing collaboration tools but also wanting power to play games waiting in airports. That phone is called the Pre 3.
10:35 a.m.: Same upward-slider design as the Veer and other Pres. It has the largest QWERTY keyboard of any WebOS phone yet. Much larger screen than the Veer with 3.6-inch display, and twice the resolution of the Pre. It shoots HD video and has a forward-facing camera.
10:36 a.m.: Two versions of the Pre 3: HSPA+ and EVDO World Phone. Wi-Fi, 8GB or 16GB of storage, and the same memory as the Veer. Its Qualcomm chip runs at 1.4GHz, which Rubinstein calls "stunning." The Pre 3 will be available this summer. Again, no pricing.
10:37 a.m.: They both work with HP's Touchstone cableless charging system, Rubinstein says. They can show different content when they know that they are docked on a Touchstone, he says.
WebOS has been all about smartphones, but "today that changes," Rubinstein says. He pulls out the long-awaited tablet: the HP TouchPad.
10:37 a.m. (from reader bdb777): any news on which carriers?
10:38 a.m. (from Donald Bell): No carrier announcement yet, bdb777.
10:39 a.m. (from Donald Bell): Thank god, it's larger than the Tab. Has 9.7-inch display.
10:39 a.m.: The first in what will be a WebOS TouchPad family, Rubinstein says. It's 1.5 pounds, and 13.7mm thick. It has a 9.7-inch 1024 by 768 display. Supports video calling and Beats Audio technology.
10:40 a.m.: Comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Can store 16GB or 32GB of data and has twice the memory of the Pre 2. It has a dual-core Snapdragon processor at 1.2GHz.
10:41 a.m.: "What sets the TouchPad apart right from the start is the WebOS interface," Rubinstein says, with what appeared to be a jab at Google's Honeycomb event last week. WebOS for tablets is slightly different, with organizational features and the same multitasking system used on WebOS smartphones.
10:42 a.m.: He's walking through the software features of WebOS on tablets, such as the contacts and calendars. He's now talking about the Synergy technology referred to earlier, showing how you can get your contacts and calendars from other Pre phones on the tablet by just logging in.
10:43 a.m.: Work users will have a touch-screen QWERTY keyboard and it will run Microsoft Office documents. They are working with Skype on something for the tablet, in reference to the earlier question.
10:44 a.m.: The tablet also supports Flash, and plenty of multimedia features like videos, magazines, movies, and music. Accessories will also be available, a lightweight case, a wireless keyboard, and a TouchStone charging dock.
10:45 a.m.: "That's just a brief overview of one of the most exciting products we've ever launched, Rubinstein says. Sachin Kansal is coming out on stage for a more thorough demonstration.
10:45 a.m. (from reader Ming): Any details on pricing yet?
10:46 a.m. (from Donald Bell): Nothing, Ming.
10:46 a.m.: Kansal runs through a scenario where he's heading home but needs to send one more SMS to confirm his flight to Barcelona next week for MWC. He's showing off how the Pre3 allows you to navigate to the SMS application. Once he gets home, he puts his phone in the TouchStone charger, and it then switches into a mode that shows you photos stored on the device as well as upcoming appointments.
10:48 a.m.: But once he's at home, he'd rather use the TouchPad tablet than the phone, Kansal says. He receives an incoming SMS on his phone, but the TouchPad can also see that message, as well as incoming phone calls, because the devices are set up to share information when on the same wireless network.
10:49 a.m.: We're now getting a demo of how WebOS switches between applications, such as e-mail, messaging, and so forth. This is the "cards" UI that Palm/HP has been using for a while.
10:50 a.m.: New apps can be launched from a quicklaunch bar on the bottom with favorites or a launcher with all apps installed on the device. You can also stack cards, like putting a browser page over a to-do list to keep related things together.
10:52 a.m.: He's now demoing the e-mail application on the tablet. He's using a Gmail in-box, showing how you work through new e-mails and older ones. The demo gods sneeze, as part of the screen glazes over as he scrolls through e-mail.
10:53 a.m.: You can have a combination e-mail box to have your work and personal e-mail all in a single application, switching between in-boxes as necessary. Most of this is pretty basic stuff, like showing how you can select multiple e-mails at a time.
10:55 a.m.: QuickOffice is in the mix, and it supports Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and PDF software, including editing for Word and Excel. He's now showing the different ways you can organize your e-mail, such as pulling out individual e-mails as "cards" to put over calendars, for example. This is possible because multitasking was designed into WebOS from the start, he says.
10:55 a.m. (from Donald Bell): Virtual keyboard looks pretty nice. It's big, with number keys running across the top.
10:56 a.m.: Apparently Kansal's daughter likes Kung-Fu Panda, and she's not talking about Pablo Sandoval. Kansal brings up a video on the tablet to show how playback works. The most amazing thing about this demonstration is that somebody greenlighted a Kung-Fu Panda 2.
10:57 a.m.: He's now showing off a browser window for a cooking site. He's hovering over a chicken-ranch pasta salad that he's not quite sure about, but as he's pondering the recipe he shows off how incoming notifications work, for both incoming e-mail and IMs.
10:56 a.m. (from reader reddy): how fast does the interface appear to work? faster than the pre?
10:57 a.m. (from Donald Bell): It looks smooth, reddy. Faster and more fluid than many of the Android tablets I've reviewed. At least, that's what it looks like from here.
10:58 a.m.: Incoming messages can be sorted, deleted, or opened from within the browser window, launching the message application when you find something you have to read and/or respond to. That also pops up the touch-screen keyboard. They added a numbers row at the top of the keyboard, and you can select four keyboard sizes, from extra small to large.
10:59 a.m. (from reader Ben): The Touch pad Site is Live http://www.palm.com/us/products/pads/touchpad/
11:00 a.m.: The numbers at the top eliminate the need to switch between different keyboard layouts, as you have to do on many other smartphones. Now he's showing off how one can tweet from the TouchPad, because nothing really happens until it's tweeted.
11:01 a.m.: WebOS has "seamless integration with social networking," Kansal says, also mentioning Facebook. Photos are an important part of social networking, he says, showing off how the photos application supports social networking. You can share photos on Facebook right from the applications, and you can see albums from other social sites like Facebook or Photobucket.
11:02 a.m.: Being that Palm is now part of HP, printing is baked into the photos application pretty closely, Kansal says. You can print to just about any wireless or networked printer that HP has shipped over the last couple of years, he says.
11:03 a.m.: You can also see Facebook comments in the photo applications without having to actually visit Facebook, and respond to those comments from within the app. The printer's on the side of the stage, and he holds up the output.
11:03 a.m. (from reader Charles): Pre and Veer site is live: http://www.palm.com/us/products/phones/index.html
11:04 a.m.: So far we've seen the core WebOS applications but developers have also been working on their own apps, such as games. Armageddon Squadron 2 is a game that was created from the WebOS SDK just a few days ago, it's a flight simulator controlled by tilting the tablet.
11:05 a.m.: More details about the SDK will be shared later today, Kansal says. HP has partnered with some magazine companies on reader applications for the TouchPad, as they demonstrate a Sports Illustrated reader application.
11:06 a.m.: They're partnering with "leading publishers," Kansal says, and they are also making it possible to have a Kindle application on the TouchPad.
11:08 a.m.: Kansal's library is on display, showing how you can go into your e-books and get the familiar tablet e-book reading experience: just like everybody else, the pages move like you're actually turning a page. They're now showing off the incoming call features, how you can take a call while in the Kindle application. Rubinstein calls, and they switch to video calling to show off that part.
11:09 a.m.: Rubinstein gives Kansal a five-minute "wrap-it-up" warning and hangs up. Video calling will be built into all core applications, and they're working Skype and Verizon when the devices are available.
Not sure about the link to Verizon, that was a throwaway line, but suggests a partnership down the road.
11:10 a.m.: Kansal is now looking for a restaurant for tonight. He's researching on the TouchPad, but doesn't want to bring that out to dinner. So he moves over to his Pre 3, hits a button, and shows how you can link Web pages from your tablet to your phone without having to enter the Web site into the phone: it just loads it from the TouchPad. That's called "Touch to Share."
11:11 a.m.: Rubinstein comes back out on stage as the demo winds down. He's reviewing the features of the TouchPad, such as the dual-core processor and instant-on productivity tools.
11:12 a.m. (from Donald Bell): The touch-to-share demo wasn't exactly swift, but still pretty cool.
11:13 a.m.: "TouchPad is nothing short of a breakthrough," he says. Some partners will be allowed to play around with the TouchPad prior to launch, including DreamWorks. Gaming titles for TouchPad like Shrek and Kung-Fu Panda will be available at launch. [DreamWorks'] Jeffrey Katzenberg is making a taped video appearance talking up the close relationship between DreamWorks and HP: he's done this dozens of times at HP events over the past decade or so.
11:14 a.m.: The video ends, and Rubinstein's back. A Wi-Fi version of the TouchPad will be available in the U.S. and a few other countries this summer, and 3G/4G devices will be arriving at a later unspecified date.
11:16 a.m.: Other partners are getting shout-outs now, including Qualcomm. Snapdragon processors are in all the Pre and TouchPad devices shown off today, and Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, comes out for his turn at talking up his company and how awesome it is, etc.
11:22 a.m. (from reader kman306): When is the tablet going to be available in the us?
11:23 a.m. (from Donald Bell): @kman306: Looks like the Wi-Fi version will hit this summer, with a 3G/4G sometime after.
11:25 a.m.: Jacobs is mercifully done. Rubinstein comes back out. HP's exclusive relationship with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine Beats Audio is a big part of the Pre and TouchPad, and Iovine is coming out on stage to talk about the relationship.
11:26 a.m.: "We're trying to fix the degradation of music that the digital revolution has caused," Iovine says. It's one thing that music gets stolen, but it's another that the music simply doesn't sound as good, he says.
11:28 a.m.: Iovine is talking about how they are working with digital companies, including Apple, to emphasize audio quality on digital. He met Todd Bradley a while back to bemoan the fact that no matter how great a headphone you make, it doesn't sound very good because the computer squashes the sounds.
11:29 a.m.: He's relating a tale about talking to an engineer who said that nobody in the PC industry cared about sound, so they cut costs in that area. Iovine has been trying to get the PC industry to approach sound quality in a more direct way. Bradley agreed, and the two started working together.
11:30 a.m.: The Envy was the first product they worked together on, with Dre and HP engineers, with Intel spokesman Will.I.am also involved. One million laptops have Beats Audio and HP technology built in, he says. The CE industry is in as much trouble as the music industry: they need differentiation as the world becomes more and more about commoditization, he says.
11:32 a.m.: Sound is the most important application on the PC, Iovine says, dismissing anything else that people build. HP's laptops "actually feel the way the music feels in the studio to us," he says. "It's a really incredible moment for the music industry," he says, and departs.
11:33 a.m.: Rubinstein's back. He's talking about how developers and content creators are interested in the new technology, and it's another testimonial: this time from Steven McArthur, SVP for applications and services at HP. This is starting to drag on a bit.
11:34 a.m.: McArthur comes out and talks about the devices again, and says they are just the start of a plan to "build the largest installed base of connected devices in the world." This part of the pitch is designed to get developers interested in seeing WebOS the same way they do Apple's iOS and Google's Android: as essential for their applications. At a certain point, developers can start to get overstretched.
11:35 a.m.: McArthur starts talking about Facebook. Facebook WebOS users are big fans of that application, as he demonstrates some of the features of that app.
11:36 a.m.: He moves on to a company called SelfAware Games, a company that built a WebOS-based business on collaboration card games like poker. They have an in-app payment structure and are developing games for the TouchPad.
11:39 a.m.: We're now talking about SDKs, and it sounds like HP is holding a separate event for developers later today to talk about more details about building apps for the new Pre/Veer and TouchPad devices.
11:40 a.m.: "We think TouchPad will be the best gaming experience on the tablet form factor," McArthur says. That will be a tall order given the head start other companies have in this market.
11:41 a.m.: Talking up AmazonMP3 as means for shopping and downloading music. Jimmy Iovine probably throwing a conniption fit back stage. Sorry it's not lossless 24 bit, Jimmy.
Another partner demo: we're watching a video of what Time-Warner has done with WebOS.
11:43 a.m.: The commercial is over, and yet another partner speech is coming up: Randall Rothenberg, chief digital officer of Time is coming out.
11:45 a.m.: "HP understands our business, the business of creating content," Rothenberg says, having embraced the Jacobs model of speaking.
11:54 a.m.: Now Bradley's coming back out. He's going to talk about future WebOS plans.
11:55 a.m.: Two new smartphones and the first WebOS TouchPad came out today, he recaps. "But we're thinking beyond today." The WebOS footprint will expand to other devices this year, he says, including printers, brand-new form factors "you haven't seen before," and market entrances with "meaningful intent."
"I'm excited to announce our plans to bring the WebOS to the device that has the biggest reach of all: the personal computer."
Now that's a BOOM.
11:56 a.m.: WebOS will be tweaked for the personal computer and that will expand the reach for developers, he says. "Do the math on two PCs a second," he says. This could be HP's ace in the hole: if they put WebOS on all those laptops, instead of Windows, developers will be unable to ignore what the largest PC company in the world is shipping.
11:57 a.m.: No mention of whether or not HP will still sell Windows PCs, just in anticipation of those questions. Hard to imagine they'd cut off business customers just like that, but who knows: very few details were related about that strategy shift.
11:58 a.m.: HP will roll out a new marketing campaign over the next few weeks, and we're getting a preview of the TV commercials. They're showing how everybody is on the Web now, set to the music of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."
11:59 a.m.: "Everybody On" is the tagline for the ads, and if you watch TV you'll probably see one very soon.
12:01 p.m.: Bradley and Rubinstein came back on as the video closed. Rubinstein is thanking partners and employees for their efforts to date. Rubinstein began his career at HP, he said, and a lot has changed, as they show a picture of Rubinstein from the '70s (or maybe the '80s) that is truly hilarious.
Serena Williams and MC Hammer are here, Bradley says. In closing, he wants to emphasize three things: WebOS and the ease-of-use experience is a truly differentiated platform. This is "innovation that matters to customers."
12:02 p.m.: Second: the commitment HP is making to develop the full potential of WebOS in the marketplace, calling it a "complete buildout." This is not going to play well in Redmond.
12:03 a.m.: Finally, HP is working with developers and content creators to bring the experiences "to life." This is nothing less than HP formally breaking from the WinTel alliance to bet the farm on its own OS. I think the old-school PC era is just about done.
12:04 p.m. (from Donald Bell): Thanks folks, that's a wrap. Great comments from everyone. Check CNET.com for more analysis of today's event and info on the individual product announcements.
12:05 p.m. (from Donald Bell): Time to get our hands dirty. There's a showcase room next door.
12:05 p.m.: We'll also try to get more answers about HP's plans for WebOS PCs.
12:05 p.m.: We know you have a choice in live blogs, and we appreciate you hanging out with us. Until next time.
Editors' note: The original, pre-event version of this story was published February 8 at 12:17 p.m. PT.