The wife and I have had our TouchPads for several months now, so I thought it would be interesting to revisit to subject.
How has the TouchPad fared in everyday use around the house? Not terribly well, I’m afraid. Though we continue to receive updates, and a slow trickle of new apps allows me to keep picking it up, I’ve all but abandoned it. It largely sits on its dock, perpetually charging, flashing through same Facebook updates. Occasionally, I dismiss the notifications that have piled up.
We are largely desktop users. She plays a lot of power-hungry PC games (Skyrim, at the moment), and I’m a power-user who works in a NAP-restricted Windows environment and plays with a lot of VMs. Tablets might make sense, but our network is designed to prevent anything that isn’t “ours” from interacting at all. Outside of the office, I’ve already got a laptop, which is already not seeing as much use as I’d like. Our living room is fed by a low-power media center, pushing music out to loudspeakers and movies onto the big screen. Away from home, I carried a Palm Pre, and she had a forgettable Samsung Android ‘thing’, already very capable devices. We’ve since replaced those with the even more capable iPhone 4S. As you can see, we’re already covered in hardware.
So, what have I used it for lately? I take it out to the garage while I work on technical things and need to reference a webpage or a manual, where it marries the convenience of a larger screen with keeping my phone’s battery in check. I take it in public where I think I’ll be sharing pictures with more than one person at once. In all, I’ve really “used” it (not counting looking at the app store or updating the software) maybe three times in the last two months.
Occasionally, I catch the wife reading a free book on the Kindle app, or playing one of the free games. Today, I found hers propped up in the kitchen, used to review a recipe while cooking. Mostly, she’s enamored with the iPhone, and I imagine she’d get more use out of a tablet that was married to the same ecosystem.
It was a bad purchase. Does that mean it’s a bad tablet? Not necessarily.
Here’s the thing: RIM sells their failed PlayBook as a tablet intended for serious business. They hoped corporate types would fall over themselves, because hey, BlackBerry. I don’t need to tell you why the PlayBook failed — it’s not a tablet built for business. But the TouchPad is.
Its WebKit-based browser fully supports HTML5 (much needed fixes to <video> support are coming any day now in webOS 3.0.5). It has much-boasted, now shamed Flash support. Adding the Bluetooth keyboard is makes typing email, banging out ideas or whipping a document into shape a seamless experience. It supports VPN. Integration of ‘Search’ fields on websites into the ‘Just Type’ feature puts the entire world at your fingertips.
Why doesn’t it have more streaming media services, like NetFlix or Hulu? Why doesn’t it have more games? Why did HP baffle the public by releasing apps that managed a very specific server, or an app that looks like a giant INFOSEC RSS reader, or that Twitter app that only shows trends and connections between feeds and doesn’t actually let you post anything? We’ll never really know, but an educated guess: They were aiming for the check boxes that HP’s marketing department invented after a brief glance at the iPad.
HP’s problem wasn’t that the TouchPad was too little, too late. HP’s problem was that they grossly overestimated that people would flock to the TouchPad, hooking it up to various Internet services along the way, and focused on buiding a tablet that would storm the enterprise and government contracts. That never happened, and all you were left with is a tablet computer that was built for getting out of your way and letting you get work done.
I don’t imagine there’s a lot of you out there, but there you go. If that’s you, go grab a TouchPad and see how it works out.