You know we hate the rumormill almost as much as fake devices, but this one is almost good enough to get us going. Retailers everywhere have slashed the prices of the HP TouchPad to the bare pricing of $99.99 for the 16GB model and $149.99 for the 32GB model. This makes these the best 10” E-readers on the planet if nothing else.
When you take into account that you can still get apps, albeit a minimum number and styles… You can still browsing, watch movies (sorry Netflix fans, no apps yet – but read on) and even get HULU+ on there – although mixed reviews on this one make it tough to say its officially available through the browser.
The basic apps are there including emailing, document viewing (editing is NOT available yet and may never be) and some great media apps for music and video… There’s not the third party support for WebOS that there are for the majors, but at least the basics are there. And from here is where these become a great deal.
First off, in terms of normal use, most of the basics will do what you need them to.
E-reader: The Kindle reader works wonderfully and will make this a great 9.7” reading device – if you use the Amazon service. Currently, Nook software is nowhere to be found and with recent events, probably never will be.
Online Streaming: Netflix does not offer an app, so movie viewing is limited to HP’s service and downloads, or is it. If you branch out a bit, Crackle and YouTube offer movies and videos for your entertainment as well. HULU, NBC and CBS apparently loaded, but the experiences were leaving users a bit lacking.
Communicating: Email on the TouchPad is great. The drawback to the device for communication is the fact that you have Skype, Skype or Skype at this point for calls/video chat. Unfortnately, it looks like Skype pulled the plug a bit early on development as the video quality on a Wireless N connection was terrible, but audio did well.
Gaming: Frankly, WebOS for tablets wasn’t out long enough for many game writers to get going with it. The big beautiful screen sure could play some great ones, but overall there’s just not much to choose from in the catalog. There’s no indication that anything else may be coming soon, but you never know after a 30 day launch period if someone already had something in the works.
While HP has stopped development on the hardware and is sending mixed signals on the future of WebOS, it’s still not a bad time to be a developer for the platform. Everyone needs to keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of these devices just hit the hands of consumers and they will pay to make it better than it was out of the box. One of the most promising developments in in the rumor mill is the promise of bringing Android to the TouchPad by a group of Android hackers (and we use that term in the good way…)
If Android comes to the TouchPad and works, anyone that didn’t grab the TP for $99 will kick themselves for years. The hardware is solid, the software is decent and the tablet works well out of the box. If, and we say a big IF, Android comes to the TP and you miss this $99 deal, well, then you missed out on the tablet deal of the year.
<CURRENT PRICING – 8.20.2011>
Staples – 399.99 (16GB) 499.99 (32GB)
BestBuy – no stock
OfficeDepot – 129.99 (16GB) 149.99 (32GB)
HP – Sold Out 99.99 (16GB) 149.99 (32GB)
Wal-Mart – Sold Out 99.99 (16GB) 149.99 (32GB)
Fry’s – no stock
Costco – no stock
OfficeMax – 399.99 (16GB) 499.99 (32GB)