The Palm (when it was still and independent company and not part of HP) caused quite a buzz at CES 2009 when it introduced the Palm Pre, its webOS operating system, and the TouchStone inductive charging system. The buzz had largely fizzled out by the time the Palm Pre launched mere weeks before the iPhone 3GS. As sales failed to meet expectations, Palm itself started to fade away and was eventually scooped up by HP.
That leads us to this week when HP announced a new form factor (tablet) for webOS.
HP TouchPad (HP Palm product site)
Like the Pre, it features a unique graphical interface and connector-less inductive charging. It has a 9.7-inch capacitive multitouch display like the iPad with a 1024×768 pixel resolution. It features the usual assortment of sensors (Light sensor, accelerometer, compass (magnetometer), and gyroscope) but does not provide NFC (Near Field Communications). This is not a big gap issue for a tablet, however. It has a front-facing camera for video calling but does not have a rear camera. This eliminates it as a vehicle for Augmented Reality apps. It does, however, feature a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which should provide zippy performance. It looks like HP has given up on the iTunes compatibility fight that Palm fought with Apple. HP promotes their HP Movie Store for movie downloads.
The TouchPad announcement was missing two critical pieces of information: A firm launch date (“this summer”) and a price. It also has one more problem: If the iPad 2 launches before it does, the TouchPad will be competing with the first generation iPad and not whatever “wow factor” Apple throws into the iPad 2.