$99 HP TouchPad
Wow, an $99 HP TouchPad with a 1.2GHz dual core processor, 1Ghz of RAM, and 16GB of storage, as well as a bright 9.7” display that also supports Flash. Really, you can’t beat that! Now if only it had a rear facing camera and expandable storage, I would truly say that it’s the perfect tablet. Well, maybe not quite perfect, but that much better for sure. For me the perfect tablet would be this device is a more sexy body that also seamlessly supports Android apps.
WebOS truly is an amazing operating system, and it really didn’t deserve this fate. For those that don’t know, in August 2011, just seven weeks after its initial launch, HP (who just bought Palm a measly 17 months earlier for $1.2B!) announced the discontinuation of webOS phones and tablets. The price was dropped from the original $499 price point to $99 for a 16GB version, and $150 for a 32GB version (originally selling for $599).
Most experts and enthusiasts agree that webOS is the most usable mobile OS out there, with multitasking capabilities that Apple iOS will be playing catch-up on for years, and which is far superior to the truly messy Android OS. If the webOS fate was to be its death at HP, I would have preferred that Google had purchased Palm and integrated its best components into Android, or even integrated the better pieces of Android into webOS!
There’s a LOT of commentary of what has truly become an historic event. I won’t repeat that as the spirit of this site is to always remain original and unique, and the typical commentary has beaten the subject to death. What I will say is what I hope (and feel) the outcome of this fire sale (i.e. reasonably large user base compared to its previous trajectory), which is that a lot of people who otherwise would never have purchased a webOS tablet, now truly understand its greatness. They should be having “ah hah” moments around how simple it is to use, and how much more fluid the experience is than Android, and even iOS. It really is remarkable. Sadly, unless webOS is resurrected somehow (and I suspect it will in some flavor over time), people will come to understand that losing this OS is a loss for the mobile industry, and for consumers in general.
I’d love to hear from iPad fans who now have an HP TouchPad, and who can offer a truly unbiased opinion (i.e. not setting out with the mindset that nothing can be better in any way than an iPad
;-). If only HP, and Palm before it, could have marketed it meaningfully and price it appropriately, more people would have come to realize that webOS can offer a lot, and that you don’t need hundreds of thousands of apps to make a tablet worth buying (and spending more than $99 on!). FYI, the manufacturing cost is a little over $300.
I feel that I was extremely lucky, because although I missed the initial price decrease announcement, and the fire sale that occurred the weekend that followed the announcement, I was able to get one! I casually monitored the forums for a couple of days, and didn’t even have to spend countless hours researching). On the Tuesday following the weekend fire sales (i.e. “long” after every store was out of stock), I read that a Best Buy near my home was getting a shipment in on the next day (Wednesday). I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to spend time going there on the off chance the rumor was correct, and that I’d actually get one.
I decided to take my chances. I went at 8am and waited until the store opened at 10am. About 24 people showed up. I was the first in line (there was actually a guy there before me, however, he was sleeping in his car from 6am until shortly after I arrived). We didn’t know until about 9:30am that they actually did have them in stock, however, they refused to tell us how many (obviously being first in line, I was guaranteed to get one at that point). Anyway, it was well worth the two hour wait. I still have the 7” Samsung Galaxy Tab, however, that’s really my toddler’s tablet. This one is for the household to use and enjoy.
It will be interesting to see what the ultimate fate of webOS will be in let’s say 5 years from now. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my purchase, and if it never gets another update, and ultimately dies a slow death in the mobile OS world, I’ll still appreciate its experience (and amazing price of course!). Maybe someday I’ll flash Android OS onto it, however, somehow I feel as though that would be a downgrade in general usability, despite the obvious gain in available applications.
While the $99 HP TouchPad price point is truly a sad thing to see in terms of its indication of a dying OS, as is the case for most people, I love a great deal, and this is certainly an amazing gadget for a technophile at that price!