Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

The S amsung Galaxy Tab has been billed as the one true contender to the Apple iPad, but is the device up to the hype? We dive into the this new Android 2.2 Froyo device and give you all of the pros and cons that might help you decide if this device is for you.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy Tab features a 7 inch TFT color touch screen, with a resolution of 1024×600. Its processing power is run with a 1GHZ Cortex A8 CPU and comes with around 16 GB of internal storage. Of course if this is too paltry for you, you can further upgrade the device up to 32 GB via a Micro SD card.

The Tab has not one camera but two, it has a front facing 1.3 Mega Pixels and a Rear facing 3 MP one with flash. Although the USA and Canadian version do not have calling features, or video calling as of press time, we are hoping for a successful Rooting of the device to get Video Calling and Phone dialing via Bluetooth.

For internet connectivity you can get online via WI-FI and if you are lock yourself into a provider, you can get 3G with most companies. It also supports Bluetooth and GPS.

For audio, it features dual stereo speakers and a headphone jack in order to listen to music. It has audio buttons on the side of the device, so you can merely tap it in order to decrease or increase the audio.

You can also use the Galaxy Tab in portrait and landscape mode, via the accelerometer and even lock the view you want to use. This is good when you want to read something, such as an ebook, or watch a video and do not want to keep flipping it by accident. We noticed with some applications, that even if you have it locked on portrait mode, the app will load in landscape mode bypassing the user settings. If you want to adjust the orientation lock on the Samsung Galaxy Tab, simply pull down the top menu and on the far right is an option for orientation lock. You can also turn on/off WI-FI, Bluetooth, GPS and activate silent mode.

Software

Most companies will bundle their own applications with the Galaxy Tab, so this means future operating system updates, will have to take longer, so the company you buy it from can update its own GUI.

The GUI is quick and robust, the Galaxy  Tab features its own little software called Touch Wiz. If you use the Samsung Galaxy S series of smart phones, this will be quite familiar to you.

The Galaxy Tab, comes with some great software, so lets talk about some of the new features that are available.

First we’ll address the software that Kobo worked on called the Readers Hub.  This new application was designed specifically for the Android 2.2 driven Galaxy Tab from the ground up. This gives owners of the Galaxy Tab a viable store to use their device as an E-Reader .

Kobo is billing this new application as an application easily used and accessible for all readers. The Kobo application will allow users access to the entire book store, which features around 2.2 million popular ebooks in ePub, PDF, and Adobe DRM. The Application will even allow you to add ebooks bought or downloaded from other sources. This new application allows the user to Tap or Swipe to turn the pages of the ebook, or use the interactive table of contents to flip to specific chapters. The application also has a ton of fonts and different sizes of the fonts, so it will allow people to heavily customize their e-reading experience. You can also view and install extra features such as Newspapers and Magazines. Free trials exist for newspapers and magazines so you can try before you buy.

Another new software program only available on the Galaxy Tab is The Music HUB. It allows you to download songs for around $1.99 and entire albums for around $10.00, you can even listen to 30 second clips to get a sense of what the song is about. When you load the program up, you get a few different options on the main screen. It gives you a TOP TRACKS, which has around 20 different songs, normally the hit singles. It also gives you a featured album, and new releases right on the main page. It also has a robust searching feature, so you can browse by artist, group or song. The Music HUB is powered by 7-Digital, so you need to create a new account and have a valid credit card in order to take advantage of it.

One of the most refreshing elements of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is the ability to connect to the Google Android Market, so many other tablets that have been billed as “iPad Killers” do not  even have access to the Android Market, such as the Augen GenTouch, Archos and others.

Lots of other applications come pre-loaded on the device, such as most Google applications such as Maps, Gmail, Latitude and Youtube. It also comes with a ton of superfluous applications, such as an Alarm Clock, Web Browser, Email, Gallery, Videos and around 20 others! The one super nice thing about this device, is it comes bundled with literally 2 full pages of applications. My favorite so far is the Daily Briefing, which gives you weather, stocks and news. The Digital Frame is nice too, that allows you tablet to function as a picture frame.

There is of course some drawbacks with the software built in, it seems like nothing is free that comes with the device. Most tablets come with free e-book reading software built right into the device. Kobo is great and all as a content provider, but a dedicated e-reading application that allowed users to load their own ebooks and audio books directly on the device, bypassing 1st and 2nd party companies trying to sell you things.

Also, there is a nice camera application that allows you to shoot video and take pictures using the rear facing camera, but there is no option to use the front facing camera. Samsung has really focused on showing people talking face to face, but there is no software bundled with the device that allows us to use it.

It looks like as well, that the Galaxy Tab gives each unit a phone number, although the phone aspect for North American customers has been locked due to carrier restrictions. Like we mentioned it is possible to ROOT your device, although of course it voids your warranty. I do not intend to root my device, until a stable and accepted solution is found. If you want to find the phone number associated with your device, you can goto Home/Settings/About Tablet/Status/ and you can view your phone number there.

Our Take on the Samsung Galaxy Tab

We have been teased with this device all year long, with its debut shown off at IFA , where we broke the news on the press conference they had showing it off, and we were also the first site to talk extensively about the Readers Hub element.

Firstly, FLASH! Being a dedicated iPad user since it came out, its really refreshing to be able to listen to audio content on wordpress hosted blogs, that use flash plug-ins, flash games and a more visceral web experience. The animations on the device play fast, and there is no lag on most small flash games that we have played around with.

Google Android is a new operating system that’s only been widely available for the last few years, as such, if you have never used it before it takes so getting used to. There is lots of different options and sub options to be able to do every day tasks. One of the drawbacks of Android on the Galaxy Tab, is evident when you are using the Video, Music, or any application that reads content from your device. You see a ton of different directories, that can be overwhelming for first time users. Although, if you use an SD card, you can activate content more simply. So a word to wise, make sure you create and manage the directory structure on your device via Windows, or using some on device manager programs, normally available on the app store.

I really like how fast and robust everything is, compared to a ton of budget tablets, the Galaxy Tab quickly switches between different orientation modes, the apps load very fast, and over all its a very responsive device. This is due to to a better processor and more internal memory then its competition.

With any new Tablet that comes out these days, there is obvious Apple iPad comparisons, and the Galaxy Tab falls short of the standard that iPad pioneered. First of all, despite that is under the hood as far as hardware goes, its all about the software. The Tab, got allot right, by bundling proprietary applications that allow the users to do allot of things, such as the Music HUB and the Readers HUB, but Android apps are generally substandard. If you compare both the Apples App Store and the Android Market, you see a large gulf in the quality of applications. People moan and complain all the time on how hard it is to get applications approved on the App store, that it sets a quality bar, although there is subjectively crappy applications, most are stable and do not crash that often. Where you look at the Android App store, there is not a singular overseer that allows apps to be posted, as such, you see a ton of really bad applications and its hard to find the good ones amidst all substandard apps. So obviously the Android Market is inferior to the App market and iTunes in terms of quality content, the Android Market is seeing more official applications by proper companies, which is a boon.

When Android was first cutting its teeth on a market place, but applications for major companies such as Twitter, and Facebook were written by independents and the applications were lacking. Now those companies have made official free applications that really raise the bar, hopefully we will see more of that in the future, as Google Android gains more market share.

Where I am going with all of this, is that Samsung Galaxy Tab is not using Android as a crutch to provide all of its content for the device, its bundled with a enough quality applications right out of the box, that it is a proper device.

Now there is one huge factor between the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab that I have not mentioned so far, and neither has anyone else, and that is purchasing digital content. The iPad with one account allows you to buy applications, videos, and music from iTunes. The Samsung Galaxy Tab does not have a singular account method to pay for digital goods. If you want eBooks, and use the Readers HUB, you do not deal with just Kobo, you deal with two other companies. Although you are not stuck with the Readers HUB, you are free to download other e-reader applications from the Android Market such as from Barnes and Noble, Amazon. If you want to buy music, and use the Music Hub, you need a 7-Digital account, and you can see where I am going.  The Apple iPad wins hands down for content distribution allowing you to purchase everything, from one account, where the Galaxy Tab makes you literally have 4 to 10 different accounts to pay for things, which makes things a little bit more complicated, but does give you a little bit more choice.

Now is it worth it for a purchase? Its quite expensive, and in Canada at least, there is not much of a price different between buying the device outright and roping yourself into a long contract, the difference is around $75.00 or so. The Tab is a more portable device, is the way i look at it. The Apple iPad is like a giant square, the Tab is like a smaller rectangle. It allows you to fit it in the back of your pocket, inside coat pocket or lots of other places. So it allows you to carry it more places without having to put it in a purse, messenger bag, backpack and so on. So we love the portability aspect of the device, it also weighs allot less then most of its rivals. Unlike the iPad, you can easily hold this in one hand during extended reading sessions.

Now allot of people are doomsayers, they proclaim that the tablet market will go the way of the netbooks, and they are just a transitional device that bridges the gulf between a smart phone and a netbook. Sure, tablets are new, but its a little early to write off the entire segment because of previous market trends. The Galaxy Tab in our minds, is a slick device, that looks and feels great and although it cannot make phone calls, its still a great internet and work device.

Now why would you buy this is the main question? If you are looking for a device to bring the coffee shop or eatery and get caught up on the local news, the screen size and portability aspect of it, makes it a cinch for this. If you are a media consumer that loves listening to music, buying music or watching Youtube videos, the resolution on this device is much better then its competition, it also features built in stereo speakers and a headphone jack, the audio and video quality is great. If you find yourself traveling lots, either on planes, air ports, buses, subways or skytrains, for more then twenty minutes, this is the device for you. It allows you to do so much on the go, vs a smart phone, that it should be a “Go-To” device to keep you interested.

Speaking of smartphones, its nice to see a tablet finally get a quality rear and front facing camera. This allows you to take pictures in landscaped mode or even shoot video. With the built in camera flash, it really gives you the option to turn  it on or off and shoot things on the fly. Although the Megapixels is non existent in comparison to cheap digital cameras or higher end smartphones, the read facing camera is 3 MP and the front facing one, around 1 MP. Considering the high price on this device, the camera resolution is quite lacking.

In summary, the Samsung Galaxy Tab IS expensive, its not a cheap $150 to $300 tablet, you are paying for a high quality piece of technology that does allot for you, you should buy it if you are looking for a high end device, that does virtually everything and is made by a company that produces great technology. There is some drawbacks of course, as well as pros. Hopefully this review has helped you figure out if it fits into your budget and lifestyle.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

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Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina

Greetings everyone! Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we look at the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 and the Apple iPad Mini with Retina. The holiday season is quickly approaching and many people may want to get this under the tree or to give to a loved one. What device may be right for you?

The iPad Mini with Retina and the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 are often used for reading digital content. We look at magazines, comics, eBooks, and newspapers to give you a sense on how they perform head to head. As an added bonus we show you how both units handle video and audio.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina

Amazon Kindle Fire and New Apple iPad Reading Comparison

Amazon Kindle Fire and New Apple iPad Reading Comparison

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Exclusive Video! We have been pumping out videos like mad lately. The Apple iPad has sold close to a million units in the last three days and many people are wondering how it functions as an e-reader device. We pit two of the top selling devices against each other to see which one warrants our seal of approval. Of course we are checking out the Amazon Kindle Fire, which is the top selling Android Tablet, and the iPad 3rd generation.

Amazon and Apple have two very extensive ecosystems and bear a number of similarities with each other. The two companies are very particular about what apps are accepted into their own app stores, which puts an emphasis on quality. If you love reading, both of these devices provide unique experiences with magazines, comics, eBooks, and other types of media. If you are thinking about getting either one of these to read, you want to check out this video to see what one is right for you.

Amazon Kindle Fire and New Apple iPad Reading Comparison

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update

Apple seldom gives people a reason to upgrade to each new iteration of the iPad. The last major breakthrough was the Retina Display that made its way to the iPad Mini and iPad 4. This allowed readers to enjoy high-definition comics, magazines and digital media that Android users have been asking for awhile. Is the iPad 2 a worthy investment if you already have the one that launches last year?

Hardware

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update

The iPad Air 2 managed to shave off 18% off the thickness from the first generation Air; it’s now an almost impossible 6.1mm thick, and 1.4mm slimmer than the original iPad Air. At 437g, down from 469g, it’s one of the lightest large-screen tablets on the market.

Apple’s iPad Air 2 contains a new chip called the A8X, an SoC that’s faster than the A7 in the original iPad Air or the iPad Mini 2 and 3 and the A8 in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple would only say that the chip’s CPU is about 40 percent faster than the A7 and that it has a GPU that’s 2.5 times faster. It also has 2GB of RAM to keep things speedy on a hardware level.

In practice, the iPad Air 2 is capable of running programs usually seen on laptop computers. This includes the impressive video-editing capabilities of iMovie and the newly launched app Replay that synchronizes photos and videos to music. The processing boost also comes into its own when playing big-name games like FIFA 15, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, or the 1GB download Asphalt 8: Airborne.

One of the new features, not found on an Apple tablet before is Touch ID, the easy-to-use fingerprint reader introduced on the iPhone 5S, which makes security better and is needed to use the new Apple Pay service for buying things without using a credit card or typing in a credit card number. Apple Pay only works when making in-app purchases online, not in stores. Could you imagine waving your tablet around in a store? Anyways Touch ID is even more useful now than it was before; iOS 8 enabled third-party developer support for the fingerprint sensor, so you can use it to access sensitive account information or passwords.

When it comes to cameras, I can’t stand to take photos on my tablet. I have been using iPads since they first came out and buy each new generation. I don’t think I have ever taken a single picture, but than again I am likely not the target demographic. The iPad Air 2 steps up to 8MP resolution, whereas the iPad Air 1 only had a 5MP rear facing camera. The new camera has a Image Signal Processor (ISP) as part of the new A8X chipset. On the software side, the new camera comes with Burst Mode, as well as slow-motion video capture in 720p at 120fps. There’s still no LED flash on front or back this time around, however.

Here’s what the iPad Air 2 doesn’t have: A higher-resolution screen, a bigger screen, longer battery life, a snap-on keyboard, Beats Audio, better speakers,or a lower base price.

Apple Introduces new SIM technology

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update

Apple has introduced a new way to change carrier companies for data plans without having the swap out the SIM card. This convenience is limited to just a few countries and carriers at launch — Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T in the US and EE in the UK — but over time, the selection of willing operators may improve.

The way this works is an option in the settings menu for internet access. You can change who you deal with on the fly and the SIM is automatically changed to the carrier you want to deal with. This may pave the way for incentives to keep people loyal or special events to get everything to switch to your company at once for a limited promotion.

Display

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update

The Apple iPad Air 2 has a staggering resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. Nothing much has changed since the iPad 4 and this tablet is still the flagship model that companies turn to, for HD content.

For example, Comixology a few years ago developed a new HD comics standard called CMX HD. This dramatically increased the resolution and vibrancy of digital comics. SD comics often take up about 80 MB of storage, but HD editions often are as large as 300-400 MB. This is a privilege only Apple users enjoy, and has still not crossed over to Android, due to the fragmentation of screen sizes and varying degrees of resolution.

Apple was able to ultimately trim down the iPad by using a laminated, optically bonded, no-gap display similar to the ones used on the iPhone and even the Microsoft Surface tablets. Not only does the new panel save vertical space by eliminating any gaps of air between the display layers, but it also makes the screen significantly less reflective. This is meant to reduce the amount of glare hitting the screen, whether you’re reading in direct sunlight or watching movies under harsh fluorescent lights. I’m happy to report that it works as advertised

Wrap Up

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update

The iPad Air 2 is not worth the upgrade if you already have the Air 1. Aside from the enhanced hardware, better camera and Touch ID, there simply isn’t anything compelling. The Absence of NFC relegates Apple Pay to being able to make App Store purchases, without having to type in your password. This might be useful for busy households with kids, who you don’t want them racking up thousands of dollars with Candy Crush micro-transactions.

The Air 2 is worth it to upgrade to, if you have a three or four year old Apple Tablet, you will notice a dramatic improvement when it comes to reading, but you are better off buying the iPad Air 1 if you can get a good deal on eBay or your local tech store.

Basics

9.7-inch, 2048×1546 display with 264 ppi
Antireflective coating
A8X 64-bit chip, M8 motion coprocessor
8MP iSight (front-facing) camera, 1.2MP FaceTime HD (front-facing) camera
Touch ID
802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
6.1 mm thick, under 1 lb
MSRP: Wi-fi – $499 (16GB), $599 (64GB), $699 (128GB); Wi-Fi + Cellular – $629 (16GB), $729 (64GB), $829 (128GB)

PROS

Anti-reflection screen coating
Faster processing
More RAM
Wireless Connection is faster
Touch ID

CONS

Very Minor Upgrade
No Mute button or rotation lock
Apple SIM does not work in Canada or Australia

iPad Air 2 Review – Another Incremental Update

Video review of the Pocketbook 602 e-Reader

Video review of the Pocketbook 602 e-Reader

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Review ! Today we do a full hands on review of the newest six inch e-reader from Pocketbook – the 602 edition.

This new e-reader runs on a Linux based operating system and can display up to 16 shades of gray! It has a resolution of 600×800 and has 166 dpi. It runs on a robust Samsung 533 MHZ processor and has 2 GB of internal Flash memory. You can further enhance the memory via a microSD card up to 32 GB. It has WI FI so you can purchase books from Pocketbooks own online bookstore or do business with others! One of best aspects of this new device is the ability to read so many different eBook formats! It does PDF, ePUB, MOBI, DOX, DOCX, and tons more!

This device also has a built in accelerometer so you can switch it between portrait and landscape mode without any problems at all. You can listen to audio books as well in the MP3 music player, and if you don’t want to disturb anyone, you can plug in headphones to the jack. If you are not a headphone fan, this unit does have 3.5mm stereo speakers.

Stay tuned later on today when we do our full comprehensive written review of the new Pocketbook 602 e-reader!

Video review of the Pocketbook 602 e-Reader

Unboxing the ExoPC Windows 7 Slate PC

Unboxing the ExoPC Windows 7 Slate PC

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Review ! Today we unbox the new EXOPC Windows 7 Slate PC. We first heard about this one last year and recently saw it at Computex. It has been on the market now for a little while and this is our first chance to look at the great Slate PC !

Let’s look at the hardware briefly of the Ciara Vibe ; it has a 11.6” touch screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768, a 64GB BROADCOM Crystal hard drive present, and 2 GB of DDR2 RAM. The tablet also has built in Bluetooth, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a mini HDMI port, and a memory card reader.

What we really liked so far was the build quality of the unit. It is very sleek and weighted without being heavy. The inclusion of a capactive touchscreen stylus was a bonus. It has a large vent on the top and large stereo speakers on the bottom of the device. It does not have a ton of volume and other buttons, instead everything is software based.

Of course, if you have a bluetooth keyboard you can take advantage of volume and all of the other media shortcuts!

Check out what comes with this unit and marvel at it, as we turn it on for the first time. Our full review and video review is coming up shortly.

Unboxing the ExoPC Windows 7 Slate PC

Full Hands on Review of the HP Touchpad WebOS Tablet

Full Hands on Review of the HP Touchpad WebOS Tablet

We finally got our hands all over the luscious HP TouchPad , the first tablet to run the WebOS operating system. How does it stack up against the industry dominating Apple iPad 2 and the plethora of Android devices? We will endeavor to find out.

Hardware

The HP TouchPad features a 9.7 inch XGA capacitive, multitouch screen display with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. It is vibrant and packs enough screen real estate to make videos, pictures, and applications look great! If you have played around with an Apple iPad, the screen is exactly the same in terms of size and scale.

The Touchpad is blazingly fast, with most apps and games loading up in under a second thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-CPU 1.2 GHZ internal processor. The RAM is relegated to only 1 GB of DDR2, but is enough to power anything you could hope to run.

There are two different models available and the main thing that makes them different is the internal storage. We had the 16 GB model ($499) in our labs, while a 32 GB ($599) is available as well. This is enough memory to really load most things, and the only drawback is there is no expandable memory via SD or MicroSD.

Most tablets these days sport two cameras on the front and back, with the front one normally used in day to day activities. HP only incorporated one 1.3 MP camera on the front of tablet and that’s fine by me. I do not see the point of most rear facing cameras on a tablet. Most people have phones to take pictures and I have yet to see really anyone at sporting events, concerts, or tech shows using a tablet to take pictures. Skype worked very well with the front facing camera and even was bundled with the unit!

If you have a WebOS phone you can take advantage of it by tethering it to your phone to receive SMS messages and other cool features. You can send and deliver content to your phone via the Tablet. Feels like an easier and more polished system than the Blackberry Bridge.

You can connect your TouchPad to your computer via the Micro USB cable. It also comes with a wall charger that has an input for USB, so you can use the same cable to charge your unit into the wall.  Charges usually last for about 9 to 12 hours, depending on how intensively you are using the tablet. There are two volume buttons on the side and also stereo speakers. I really liked the speaker design, because most tablets these days do bottom facing or rear facing speakers. The problem with this method is when you cradle the tablet down in portrait mode,  the sound gets muffled on your lap, ditto with rear facing ones. HP did it right with the speaker design on the side in landscape mode. I found that in my lap, landscape or portrait mode always came through with awesome quality. Rounding off the buttons and such, you have a power button, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a mic at the top above the webcam.

The HP TouchPad build quality is tremendous! It has a great piano black finish and screams high quality. It seems rugged, durable, and heavy. The thing weighs easily more than double the Apple iPad, weighing in at 740 grams. I found holding it in my hands with the tablet resting on my legs that after 15 minutes it starting to sway and droop. Even though it feels heavy, that is part of the charm. It seriously feels like a device that should cost more and from start to finish is extremely polished.

Software

Full Hands on Review of the HP Touchpad WebOS Tablet

The HP TouchPad features WebOS 3.0, which is a brand new operating system for tablet computers. HP got this OS last year when it had purchased Palm . It feels very refreshing to have a non-android device to review and the WebOS, although buggy at times with the bundled software, was a welcome breath of fresh air.

WebOS has a number of factors going for it right out of the box, which made it seem very intuitive and within ten minutes I was using it like a seasoned veteran. It multitasks very well and all applications can be minimized when you hit the home button. If you have many apps opened you can swipe from the right to left and jump through whichever ones you’re using. If you have more than one web page open, the tabbed pages overlap each other visually and you can click on the middle one to open up that particular website. If you want to close an app, you can swipe up and it just disappears. It multitasks literally 50 programs and does not lag at all. If you are using a program you can swipe up to minimize it. This feature kept me interested and full of glee way too long!

The pictures and video options are lumped into one application where you can view pictures and HD videos with little to no problem. Fine and well, but HP steps it up a notch by setting up Facebook Galleries of all of the pictures you have in your account to access on your gadget. If you made galleries with tons of pictures it forms folders and has all of your online pictures available instantly. This feature was super interesting and I liked it.

The bundled apps on this device are something more companies can take a lesson from. It came with not only the standard contact list, memopad, calender, and so on, but with a ton of other great things! Right out of the box it hosted a ton of social media options, such as Facebook and Skype, along with tons of email support. The email client is great and gives you a common inbox for your various accounts. The Facebook application was actually a shortcut to the App Catalog in order to download it, but once it was running it was well designed.

I liked the Cloud option on the TouchPad which gave you a ton of integration options for Dropbox and many others! This feature more than anything screamed 2011!

Most of the apps on this device were very useful and serve as niche purposes for common activities. I dug the fact that right out of the box it had everything I could possibly want in terms of social media, productivity, and cloud based storage solutions, but what if i want more?

Enter the HP App Catalog! This is the HP Market that serves up many new applications, organized very well. The first thing you notice when you fire it up is the featured category that loads by default. It is not like the scrolling banner on Android Tablets or the small area on the Apple App store that gives you a spartan few listings. The HP version gives you this 8 page catalog that feels like an interactive magazine. It talks about the application and gives you a small review with the option to both download and launch the app within the screen. This was a tremendously innovative way to show off the featured app listings and something no one has ever done before. I can’t wait for future updates of this.

The HP App Catalog has 4 main menu features, New Apps, Top Free, Top Paid and Top Apps. This is a great way to find the best content quickly and efficiently. There are a wide range of categories to your left hand side that give you more then enough options to find your niche app. The one pitfall is there are main categories but no sub-categories like you may find on the Android market. It feels more like the Apple ecosystem.

When you want to check out a game or application you can click on it and find user reviews, a description about the app, a picture of it, and a bunch more. This feels more organic in the way the app listings are presented and download/launch prompts are found everywhere. Everything you find on the App Store is customized to the HP TOUCHPAD! This means everything you download was directly made to shine on the 9.8 inch screen.

One of the big applications you want to download right away is the new HP Movie Store that just came out tonight! It gives you the ability to buy or rent movies. The average price for buying was $9.99, while renting was a paltry $2.99. Most of the movies did not look like they were in HD, and there were no options for different versions. Also, only 9 movie titles were listed, and most did not have trailers or previews. There is also a TV option to watch the boob tube with, but there were no stations available. I guess this is a new feature they will put in later. One of the drawbacks of the HP Movie Store is that it is USA only! I find this weird because I bought mine at a large retail chain in Canada and this did not work. The Amazon Kindle app also did not even display when I selected Canada, I had to set my location to the USA for it to even show.

Speaking of the Kindle, it was the only major e-reader app available on the market! I found it tremendously buggy! I have almost 100 books that I purchased through Amazon and none of them would even sync to my device. I had to BUY a new book and only that booked synced. The UI and GUI is very buggy as well. Hopefully this gets fixed or Kobo releases a WebOS version of the Reading Life app.

The settings menu allows for a number of interesting features, such as the ability to connect to wireless printers and access your Bluetooth hardware. So if you don’t want to type on the TouchPad keyboard you can setup a Bluetooth one. There is also options to setup a VPN network! One of the best features contained within the settings menu is a program called Exhibition. It isintended to be used when you’re not really using the TouchPad. You can think of this as going into a standby or sleep mode. Instead of showing an app or the home screen, Exhibition will display the time via the clock and also show recent Facebook posts from your friends. If you have any appointments setup it will show you that as well. You can even use it as a digital picture frame with it harvesting your onboard content to display. You can turn Exhibition on manually, or it will launch automatically when you set the TouchPad into an optional charging dock.

The Keyboard on the TouchPad is my favorite one so far out of any tablet I have ever played with! The keyboard remains consistent no matter what menu you are in. Often an Android menu might change if you are in a web browser or other program. The HP Touchpad has a full QWERTY keyboard and has numbers on the top. No other tablet’s keyboard I have seen has the numbers on the top, most make you hit the 123 key to input them. This is perfect for people who often use letters and numbers for their passwords or enter WIFI protected networks.

Sure this device has plenty of applications and games, but what about user content? Some of the biggest complaints about the iPad and iPad 2 is that they are more or less closed ecosystems. You cannot simply plug it into your computer and drag and drop files via Window Explorer. You have to use iTunes and its limiting to be able to only transfer certain files to your iSomething. The Touchpad allows you to plug it into your computer via the MicroUSB cable to facilitate a data connection. You can then simply open Windows Explorer and put in wallpapers, pictures, music, video, ebooks, comic books, and more. The freedom the TouchPad offers in terms of loading in your own content is solid.  It seems to read a fair number of picture, video, and book formats as well.

In the end the HP Touchpad has a lovely interface and is bundled right out of the box with the most common applications people use in their day to day lives. You don’t know how tired I am of the default Android 2.2 or the Honeycomb experience. Companies put little to no effort into the bundled apps on their device and make the users fend for themselves to find anything of use on the open market. HP did it right by realizing that people use cloud storage and give you 8 different options of different companies to go with. If you have no experience with cloud storage this is a great way to learn. The company also realizes people use SKYPE, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and other video calling features to take advantage of the front facing camera and bundled it all with it! Meanwhile, most Android devices have the Camera app! That has little to no features and no remote calling functions. I really think that HP hit a home run with their first tablet running the WEBOS 3.0! It feels tremendously polished and the app experience is flawless.

My thoughts

Full Hands on Review of the HP Touchpad WebOS Tablet

The HP TouchPad is one of the best tablets I have reviewed this year! It is very refreshing to have a non-android tablet to review. Other non-Android tablets have also launched this year such as the Blackberry Playbook and the Apple iPad 2. Also to a lesser extent some lower quality Windows based devices have been released at well, but nothing to write home about.  The HP TouchPad really makes mobile computing enjoyable and is very unique.

Let’s look at the hardware again; combined with the 9.7 screen and dual core processors, it lets you multitask pretty well, everything opens loads very fast with no noticeable lag, no matter what you have open. The device is very slick and the build quality is very high. I also liked the home screen button built into the chassis that minimizes the current open programs at touch of a button. Most tablets these days are opting for a full software driven experience and abstain entirely from any physical buttons on the device.

Back to the software side of things, it continues to amaze me the more I play with the unit. The entire WEBOS experience is non-evasive and is very intuitive to learn. You swipe things from left to right jump between open programs and swipe up to exit any open program while you are playing with it. While minimized you can slide in live previews of what is going on in your other open windows. So if you have a game going, a video playing, and video chat all happening at the same time,  you see what’s happening in each program. I like the fact that the tablet comes with everything you really need to get started and feels very 2011. The Market is organized very well, colorful, and makes it easy to find the apps you want. My favorite aspect of the market is that every application is optimized to the 9.7 inch tablet size.

There are a number of downsides with the HP TouchPad, however. The unit is as heavy as hell and easily weighs almost double the iPad 2. There is also no expandable memory, so you are stuck with whatever model you buy. These days the lack of memory is not the largest of concerns, thanks to the cloud storage options bundled with the device and alternatives such as Amazon Cloud Music Locker, Google Docs, Spotify, and others. The drawback is cloud storage is all based online and if you are out of a WIFI area or traveling you might not have access to your expanded media library. The HP Movie Store feels like a closed-down business with only a few items scattered around the floor and the Kindle application is plain broken. Many of the applications in the settings menu are uninspiring, but useful to select people. Most of the downsides are software based. They were just not quite refined enough when the TouchPad launched.

The HP TouchPad has the most potential out of a non-IOS tablet this year. No offense to RIM, but developing for their platform is an exercise in pain and misery. Developing for the WEBOS system seems much easier for major developers. You have the WEBOS phone line and the tablet line. As long as the phones and tablets always use the same size screens it will much easier to tailor apps to suit them. The big factor in the success of the HP TouchPad is not the hardware, they do it right, but the long term application development strategy. WebOS has never been a mainstream attraction but a very niche fringe OS. With one tablet under their belt and an array of new phones out already or in the works, can it be a operating system that programmers want to develop for? Will there be enough people sporting these tablets that companies can make a solid income from marketing content to it? Compared to the Apple and Android application markets I would say no. The TouchPad has only been around since July 1st in the USA and July 15th in Canada, but this ecosystem does have more content and potential than the Blackberry App world.

In the end the HP TouchPad is one amazing piece of technology! It might not have dual cameras or superfluous hardware, but it does the job right. The WebOS operating system is a tremendous breath of fresh air amidst the smog of Android. I feels like HP built this device with hugs and kisses and did not rush it to the market. It is refreshing to see a product hit the market and work out of the box without having to install updates like crazy just to get basic functionality. I would recommend this one to anyone not happy with the closed ecosystem of the Apple iPad and want to actually use Windows Explorer to transfer added content to your TouchPad.

Rating 9.5/10

Full Hands on Review of the HP Touchpad WebOS Tablet

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Full Hands on Review of the HP Touchpad WebOS Tablet