NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It took a year for HP (HPQ - Get Report) to rescue and refit Palm's excellent WebOS, and finally, the No. 1 PC maker released its first WebOS-powered device. The TouchPad tablet goes on sale July 1 at HP.com as well as a host of national retailers.
With a 9.7-inch touchscreen, the TouchPad is similar in overall size to Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPad 2 (the TouchPad is almost twice as thick, though). But despite its nice specs -- dual-core processor, 16 or 32 gigs of storage, an amazing, easy-to-use virtual keyboard -- it still has to compete with the market-leading iPad (soon to be a third-generation device) and the stack of already-established Google (GOOG) Android tablets, which isn't an easy feat.
Our tests show the TouchPad to be a very capable device. WebOS is known for its excellence in multi-taksing, and programs start quickly and a bunch of applications can be run at the same time. The learning curve of using WebOS isn't too steep; you merely tap a program to start it, and all programs can be minimzed to a smaller size by swiping downward. To close an app, you swipe your finger toward the top of the screen and it goes away.However, the TouchPad needs lots more apps, which as we all know are crucial to a mobile device's success. HP is two years behind everyone else when it comes to populating an app store, and it shows: The apps included on the TouchPad's home screen are few but familiar: Facebook (a nice, meaty version that HP developed specifically for its tablet), YouTube, Kindle, Adobe (ADBE) Reader and QuickOffice, to name the most prominent ones. Thousands of other apps are available in HP's App Catalog -- though only about 300 are optimized specifically for the TouchPad -- and include Angry Birds, Time Magazine and a host of other games and publications.
--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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