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Apple iPad vs HP TouchPad

After almost a year since buying Palm, HP recently announced it would enter the growing tablet wars with the much-anticipated HP Palm Touchpad, a device that looks very similar to the iPad and runs on the webOS operating system.

So, how does the new HP TouchPad compare with Apple iPad tablet? Is it just as smooth and swanky, is it a pain to carry around and, ultimately, which is the one you should be spending your hard earned cash on? Keep reading to find out.

iPad vs TouchPad: Dimensions

Tie: Apple iPad
242.8 x 189.7 x 13.4mm, 680g/730g (Wi-Fi/3G)
Tie: HP TouchPad
240 x 190 x 13.7mm, 740g

Well, that’s pretty damn similar. So similar, that we’re going to call this one a dead heat. One could quibble about a 0.3mm here or 10g there but the fact is that these two tablets have an almost identical physical profile. If you’re considering the iPad but really hoping for a viable alternative, the HP TouchPad isn’t going to let you down in this department.

iPad vs TouchPad: Display

Tie: Apple iPad
9.7″, 1024 x 768, LCD with IPS
Tie: hp TouchPad
9.7″, 1024 x 768, LCD with IPS

Right. So, another tie then. Nothing at all to separate these two with the same display size, same screen resolution and same LCD technology, including the IPS which gives them both a nice wide viewing angle so you can stun your colleagues with your bar charts and wow your friends with Angry Birds on the big screen – provided there’s a webOS 3.0 version of the game, of course.

iPad vs TouchPad: Storage

Tie: apple iPad
16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash
Tie: hp TouchPad
32GB or 64GB flash

After the a solid difference in the engine room category, we’re straight back to a dead heat. Interestingly, the HP TouchPad doesn’t have any expandable storage – something we’ve expect from Apple for a while now but not the run of the mill for competing devices.

iPad vs TouchPad: Battery

1st: apple iPad
10 hours video
2nd: hp TouchPad
8 hours video

To be fair, HP says that the TouchPad will give you equal to or more than 8 hours of video, while Apple’s claims “up to 10 hours” for video and only “up to 9 hours” of 3G browsing. In practice, we might find that it’s more or less the same but, on grounds of pure potential, we have to give this round to the iPad. We’ll let you know how they compare once we get the TouchPad into the Pocket-lint review labs, but for now it’s the iPad that comes out on top and, when you’re talking a long haul flight, you’re going to need as much battery life as you can get your hands on.

iPad vs TouchPad: Software

1st: HP TouchPad
webOS 3.0
2nd: Apple iPad
iOS 4.2

The software fight is always a tough one to call because there’s always a certain degree of subjectivity in the outcome for each user. What we’ve seen from the HP press conference is that anything the iPad can do, the TouchPad can as well, and sometimes even better. There’s wireless printing; really good integration of the apps; phone to tablet communication, if you happen to own a Palm handset; the Synergy syncing system and the nail in the coffin is the all important browser with Flash Support. Combine this with the multitasking power of the dual core processor and you’ve got the makings of a truly great OS. Perhaps the one area where Apple has the edge is the Games Center for online app play but that’s about it. Oh, that and the massive elephant in the room that is…

iPad vs TouchPad: Apps

1st: Apple iPad
Lots and lots and lots
2nd: HP TouchPad
Not that many

We’ve rather lost count of how many apps you can get from the Apple App Store but there’s at least 100,000 available. Now, we’re well aware that there’s a world of homebrew goodness that you’re bound to be able to hack onto the TouchPad with the simplest of ease but, frankly, as great a community as Palm has, it just doesn’t compare with the juggernaut that is the iOS app business. One of the reasons that the original Pre never quite made it was that it never garnered as much developer support as it could of, if timing had been better, and probably the real test for HP is being able to get them back to support the TouchPad.

iPad vs TouchPad: Engine Room

1st: hp TouchPad
Qualcomm APQ8660, 512MB RAM
2nd: apple iPad
Apple A4 chip, 256MB RAM

Okay, ready for the heavy stuff? So, both tablets run a system on a chip – as most mobile devices do these days – but before we delve into what makes up the APQ8660 and A4, we can at least see that the TouchPad wins out on memory. It has double the RAM. So, advantage HP.

As for the CPUs, the A4 contains a single core ARM Cortex A8 that runs at a maximum clock speed of 1.0GHz. Whether Apple actually lets it do so is another thing. Meanwhile, the TouchPad features a dual core Scorpion CPU capable of getting up to 1.2GHz. However, because of the multicore set-up, it’s been estimated that it could operate effectively up to 2.4x faster than the ARM chip.

Last of the bunch is graphics. The A4 contains a PowerVR SGX535 GPU while the APQ8660 has an Adreno 220 doing the work. Now, while they’re probably just names to most people, the facts are that the Adreno 220 is, again, around twice as powerful as the A4. So, all in all, this is a large coup for the TouchPad which, if all put together correctly, should offer double the performance potential over the Apple iPad. In fact, the only thing that might edge it in the engine room department is the Tegra 2 system, but we’ll leave that fight until the iPad 2 comes out.

iPad vs TouchPad: Imaging

1st: HP TouchPad
1.3MP front facing webcam
2nd: APPle iPad
Um…

Bit of a surprise that the TouchPad didn’t follow the same suit as the other tablet makers looking to take on Apple by including both a front and back camera but, on reflection, the company picked the right one of the two. The webcam, although at a bit of a disappointing level of resolution, is going to come in very useful for making video calls – something that the tablet people are saying is a major function for these large mobile devices. Doubtless, the iPad 2 will have something similar up its sleeve for all that FaceTime calling that the Jobs wants you to do but, for now, this one belongs to HP.

iPad vs TouchPad: Price

Apple iPad
Wi-Fi: £429/£499/£599, 3G: £529/£599/£699
HP TouchPad
Unknown

Apple has actually done a remarkable job of keeping its prices down on the iPad. You only have to look at the competition to see that they’ve been struggling to match it. Sadly, for the time, we don’t know how much HP is going to charge, so we’ll have to leave this one.

Conclusions

1st: HP TouchPad
2nd: Apple iPad
As it stands, the HP TouchPad, on paper, looks to be a much better device. It’s just as good looking and svelte as the Apple darling, it has an equally pleasing display and an arguably better piece of software running the show. The killer blows though are the full web browsing, the webcam and the fact that it’s twice as powerful which really does make a huge impression.
But, based on rumors regarding HP TouchPad and iPad 2′s release dates, Apple’s second slate is scheduled to arrive earlier than HP’s. Latest rumors about iPad 2′s release date are pointing to March or April, while HP TouchPad is reportedly arriving in June or July. Well, HP TouchPad is Apple iPad’s number 2? Let’s wait and see.