HP today announced its iPad rival - a 9.7in touchscreen tablet PC called the HP TouchPad. The TouchPad is the first tablet PC to run the Palm WebOS, comes with either 16GB or 32GB storage, and has a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-CPU APQ8060 processor running at 1.2GHz. It will be available in 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi-only versions, and will be available in the US and 'key selected markets' (which will almost certainly include the UK) in summer 2011. For the latest news and reviews on tablet PCs visit Tablet Advisor.

Here are the details of the HP TouchPad: 

HP TouchPad: technical specifications

HP webOS; 9.7-inch XGA capacitive, multitouch screen with a vibrant 18-bit color, 1024x768 resolution display; Virtual keyboard; Microsoft Exchange email with Microsoft Direct Push Technology, POP3/IMAP (Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, etc.); Integrated IM and SMS;  A-GPS (3G models only);  Front-facing 1.3-megapixel webcam for live video calling;  Light sensor, accelerometer, compass (magnetometer), and gyroscope;  Audio formats: DRM-free MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, QCELP, WAV, Video formats: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264;  Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n with WPA, WPA2, WEP, 802.1X authentication; Bluetooth wireless technology 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo Bluetooth support; Either 16GB or 32GB internal storage;  Rechargeable 6300 mAh (typical) battery; Charger/microUSB connector with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed; 3.5mm stereo headset/headphone/microphone jack;  Internal stereo speakers and Beats Audio; HP Touchstone for TouchPad; Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-CPU APQ8060 1.2GHz; 240x190x13.7mm; 740 grams

HP TouchPad: in pictures

See also: HP TouchPad in pictures

HP TouchPad: WebOS

The Palm WebOS launched with the Palm Pre smartphone to a generally favourable reaction. Indeed, the OS was more of a success than the hardware. HP bought Palm last year principally - it's believed - to get its hands on the WebOS operating system. It has a spacious workspace and 'activity cards' that provide an easy way to visualise and organise what you’re working on.

Talking about WebOS when reviewing the Pre, our reviewers Ginny Mies and Melissa J Perenson said:

"We found webOS one of the silkiest and best-designed smartphone platforms to come along in a while - it's right up there with Apple's iPhone OS and Google's Android.

But webOS does have a few quirks. For the most part, though webOS is zippy to navigate through, apps sometimes loaded slowly and the organisation and placement of certain features was a bit confusing or counterintuitive at times.

The home-screen interface has customisable application widgets running at the bottom. Touch a widget, and the app instantly pops up. Unfortunately, you can display only four shortcuts of your choosing (plus the Launcher shortcut, which you can't switch out) at a time.

Like Google Android, Palm's webOS can handle full multitasking - something that Apple iPhone 2.0 can't do. The Palm Pre manages multitasking with a deck-of-cards visualisation: you can view each of your open applications at once, shuffle them any way you choose, and then discard the ones you want to close. You do all of that with gestures that mimic handling a physical deck of cards.

Apps remain live even when minimised into the card view, so changes can continue to happen in real time, even if you've moved on to another activity. Overall, we found this arrangement a playful and intuitive experience for managing multiple apps.

webOS also has a great notifications feature, a small alert that pops up at the bottom of the screen when you have an incoming call, text message, or email, but that alert comes up without interrupting the app you have open (similar to Google Android).

Although the notifications are nifty, we found their placement - below the Quick Launch Bar - a bit annoying: we kept accidentally hitting the Notifications when we wanted the Launch Bar (or vice versa). We prefer Google Android's layout, in which the notifications run across the top of the screen. Notifications also pop up on the Palm Pre's stand-by screen.

Fans of Palm OS will be happy to know that the Palm Pre retains the copy-and-paste function. You simply hold down Shift on the keyboard and then drag on the touchscreen to select the desired block of text. Afterward you open the application menu in the upper-left corner of the screen and select copy, cut, or paste."

HP TouchPad: display

The HP TouchPad has a 9.7-inch XGA capacitive, multitouch screen with an 18-bit colour, 1024x768 resolution display. Yes, the same size as the iPad!

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