Visiting Gadget Show Live in Birmingham yesterday, PC Advisor spent an hour with HP taking a look at the firm's forthcoming TouchPad tablet.

Due to come out some time this summer, the HP TouchPad tablet is one of the big stories of the year.

Unlike the BlackBerry PlayBook and Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets, the HP TouchPad has a 9.7in display. It's based on a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU (as opposed to the iPad's 1GHz A4; and how this will compare to the Motorola Xoom with its GHz Tegra 2 dual-core processor remains to be seen). Performance - insofar as we could tell - was fine.

HP is convinced that the TouchPad has what it takes, but faces an uphill task: the TouchPad is trying to break into a tablet market currently dominated by Apple's iPad 2, with heavyweight rivals starting to arrive in their droves. And it won't hit the market until summertime, we were told.

And senior product manager Andrea Palisca, who gave us a hands-on demo of the TouchPad, recognised how hard it will be for a latecomer like the TouchPad to overcome rival's platform familiarity. When we asked how confident HP was about winning over customers now accustomed to Apple's iOS and Google Android, he admitted that it was "like getting them to change religion". Uniquely among tablet devices, the TouchPad is based on Palm's WebOS. 

In depth: hands on with the HP TouchPad

Still, at this early stage - several months before launch, and before the firm was willing to offer even an estimate of a UK price - it looks like a contender.

We've embedded our video of the HP TouchPad tablet below.