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HP shows off TouchPad tablet doing Flash video

Hewlett-Packard demonstrates its upcoming TouchPad tablet running Flash video. The demo is impressive and gives HP a feature the iPad doesn't have.

Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad tablet will do Flash video right out of the gate--just in case anyone had any doubts--according to an HP executive who was demonstrating the TouchPad at a Qualcomm conference this week.

The HP WebOS-based TouchPad, due out soon, was front and center at the Qualcomm Uplinq conference in San Diego. Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president at HP's Palm Global Business Unit, spent much of a one-hour keynote address flourishing the TouchPad and talking about its virtues.

One of those virtues is the ability to "run multiple applications at once without slowing down. Multiple screens open at once," according to Rubinstein. One of the reasons that's possible is the Qualcomm processor inside. The TouchPad is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 processor. It is the first dual-core processor from the cell phone chip giant.

And the TouchPad was also shown at the Qualcomm conference doing something else that could be an even greater virtue: running Flash video. Adobe Flash is a widely used video format on the Web, though HTML5, because of Apple's support, is gaining quickly. Importantly--at least for some consumers--Flash video is something Apple's iPad cannot do. That is, it's not supported by Apple.

Motorola, despite touting Flash playback on its Xoom tablet in ad copy, struggled with Flash initially: the first Xooms shipped without the ability to run it.

But HP is all set to go with Flash, according to Sachin Kansal, a director of product management at HP, who demonstrated for journalists and analysts the TouchPad running Flash 10.1. I interviewed Kansal and asked him to demonstrate Flash on the TouchPad. (See video below.)

The results were impressive, as he was getting Flash content directly off the Web and Wi-Fi speeds at the Qualcomm conference were less than satisfactory. In the video, I make an initial comment that it seems "jerky," but everything seemed to smooth out pretty well thereafter. And that may have been the initial jerkiness that I often see with any Flash video, anyway.

That said, Flash has its drawbacks. It can be very processor-intensive (as well as bandwidth-intensive) and can even cause performance problems for mainstream Intel-based laptops.

Along these lines, at a conference further up the California coast near Los Angeles (which also took place this week), Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen was challenged about Flash performance on tablets.

So, we'll have to see how user-friendly Flash playback is on tablets like the TouchPad.