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HP TouchPad Review

Retail Roundup - HP TouchPad Clearance Sale Edition

HP TouchPad Fire Sale Retail Report Hoping to score at least discounted HP TouchPad at retail, I got an early start on Saturday morning and made a number of visits this weekend to several stores that had been staunch supporters of HP's short-lived TouchPad retail effort.

Read on to see what I found in the way of Touchpad and accessory deals.

HP's DeWitt Speaks on the Future of WebOS and Hardware Support

In one of the first detailed bits of information from HP since last week's stunning series of announcements, Stephen DeWitt, HP's WebOS GBU Chief, talked with AllThingsD in a somewhat cryptic but still worthwhile interview regarding the fate of WebOS and its accompanying devices.

Most significantly, the Pre 3 launch is proceeding, albeit as a "limited" launch in "limited markets" and presumably, in very limited quantities. The USA will sadly not see an official Pre 3 launch despite the device hitting the UK and parts of the EU earlier this month in advance of the big WebOS hardware discontinuation news of last week.

TouchPad Quickoffice Document Editing Update Due This Week

Quickoffice webos touchpad Earlier this month, prior to HP's bombshell discontinuation announcement, we discussed the welcome news that the full version of QuickOffice would be released in the near future as a free download for the TouchPad while WebOS Smartphone users would have to pay for document editing privileges.

HP VP of WebOS Worldwide Developer Relations Richard Kerris sent out a surprise series of Tweets earlier today indicating that the QuickOffice update was coming this week and is in final stages of testing now. No word as of yet if this is a TouchPad-only update or if the plans to release a 2.x smartphone-compatible paid version are still in the works.

AT&T Cancels Pre 3 for USA

HP Palm Pre 3 Unsurprisingly, AT&T, HP's strongest carrier partner up until last week's announcement, has pulled the plug on the Pre 3 smartphone just as that device began hitting the market in Europe. WebOSRoundup received a leaked email from AT&T dated August 19th indicating that the Pre 3 launch and all subsequent orders are cancelled.

No word as of yet on the status of the status of the upcoming TouchPad 4G on AT&T but it will presumably not see the light of day either. If it does, it will likely be sold without any carrier support, marketing, or endorsements. As of this writing, AT&T is still officially selling the Pixi Plus and Veer 4G for "free" on a 2year contract online and in-stores, though there's no assurance these devices will last much longer, especially with unlocked Veer handsets already having been blown out by HP last Friday night for a mere $50.

HP Holds TouchPad Fire Sale, Sell Outs Ensue

HP TouchPad Fire Sale No sooner had we posted news last Friday of the availability of the white 64GB TouchPad when HP dropped a bombshell not only on the WebOS market but the entire mobile industry. Effective immediately last Friday night, HP slashed the price of the 16GB Touchpad down to $99, with the 32GB Touchpad reduced to $149. They also sent out a memo to all of their channel partners instructing them to do the same, with the clearance pricing fully in effect as of Monday morning.

As expected, response to the clearance pricing has been absolutely phenomenal, with the TouchPad arguably being the most sought-after piece of personal technology ever online. Over 350,000 TouchPads were reportedly sold this past weekend, with those numbers certain to grow as warehouses empty out the remaining TouchPad stock.

WebOS 2.1 Now Available for the Verizon Pre 2

verizon wireless After a lengthy delay, WebOS 2.1.0 is now available for Verizon Pre 2 users. Verizon has finally officially confirmed the gradual OTA rollout of this update, containing some eagerly-awaited additions such as exhibition mode and voice dialing. A tweet from VZWSupport said that the update actually was approved for release on August 9th. In my experience, Verizon OTA updates usually roll out within a week or so of final approval.

Unfortunately, users cannot manually pull the update and must wait for it to be available unless they are comfortable using unofficial homebrew techniques to install the update. A PDF of installation instructions and release notes is available here (.pdf link) from Verizon Wireless.

Aside from a few users reporting installation quirks, initial user reports for the update are quite positive thus far, at least as far as GPS lock and synchronization issues being resolved. As always, HP recommends downloading the update via wi-fi, though the 28MB update file can be downloaded over 3G.

Michael Mace's Take on the Future of WebOS

Michael Mace, has unsurprisingly chimed in via his Mobile Opportunity blog on yesterday's monumental news yesterday regarding HP's decision to discontinue all of their WebOS devices. Long-time Palm watchers will remember Mr. Mace as the former CCO of PalmSource, so he certainly brings to the table not only a greater familiarity with the Palm-companies but the continuing conflicts between the software and hardware sides of the business.

Mace first asserts that the sudden departure of HP CEO Mark Hurd last summer was the first nail in the WebOS coffin, and the feeble sales figures of the Pre 2, Veer, and TouchPad turned out to be the finishing blows. In between these two milestones, Mace claims that both Palm and HP tried too hard to mimic Apple and iOS (something I have thought ever since the CES 2009 unveiling of the Pre and WebOS) instead of differentiating themselves with a unique set of products. He of course references Palm's disastrous attempts to spoof the Pre as a generic iPod in iTunes back in 2009.

White 64GB Touchpad Now Available from HP

White HP TouchPad Somewhat surprisingly, the white 64Gb TouchPad made available yesterday in France has just appeared for sale on HP's online store to domestic customers. The specs remain unchanged, with a 1.5Ghz Snapdragon CPU offering a 300Mhz boost over the standard TouchPad's 1.2Ghz CPU. The price on the device is $599.99, fitting right in with the $100 price reduction seen on the lesser TouchPad SKUs and undercutting the 64GB iPad2 by $100. Aesthetically, it looks to be more of the off-white + black two-tone style of the Veer 4G as opposed to a glossy all-white finish.

At this stage of the game, it's unlikely any retailer will be chomping at the bit to stock this device. It's also uncertain how long HP will sell the device or how many have been produced, so depending on the status of the pending TouchPad4G, this could be the final "new" piece of WebOS hardware ever released. Collectors take note!

First Pre 3 Hands-on reports Emerge from the UK

HP Pre 3 UK HP's Pre 3 is entering the market with the softest of soft launches possible. Nevertheless, some Pre 3 units have hit eager customers' hands in the UK and the first initial usage reports and unboxings are making the rounds online.

One bit of good news for legacy Pre users is that, despite the Pre 3's expanded screen and keyboard size, it is fully compatible with the original Palm TouchStone dock from 2009. This has been confirmed in the Precentral forums. Unsurprisingly, the Pre 3 does not fit the Touchstone as snugly as the older Pre and Pixi models but it is compatible and chargers properly.

UK Carriers Give Cold Shoulder to Pre 3

The possibly still upcoming Pre 3, arguably the year's most eagerly-anticipated WebOS device, has become the surprising recipient of a cold shoulder by the entire UK wireless market, according to a new report entitled "UK Carriers Say No to HP Pre 3" by the Inquirer.

Penned by Chris Martin, the Inquirer story quotes each major UK wireless carrier's plans for the Pre 3. O2, Vodafone, and Three all reiterated their plans to not stock the Pre3 in any capacity. Thankfully, Orange does plan to offer the Pre 3 through indirect channels and resellers, but in doing so the device is guaranteed to receive little in the way of carrier marketing or support. Carphone Warehouse, a division of Best Buy, will sell unlocked Pre 3 handsets starting in September. A number of other resellers in the UK are listed in the article as carrying unbranded, SIM-free versions of the Pre 3 in its 8GB and 16GB versions. While the Pre3 is supposedly in stock at some UK retailers, as of this writing only a handful of actual reports from users receiving the devices have appeared.

HP Reportedly 'Not Walking Away from WebOS'

Writing in an Palm insider inspired post, Joshua Topolsky of This is my next… reports on the details of an all-hands meeting HP held today with employees in the webOS Global Business Unit. The piece provides some minor clarity on the future of WebOS yet still leaves a lot of questions about the platforms future role still up in the air.

In the meeting, webOS GBU VP Stephen DeWitt made it clear that HP intends to continue to work on webOS and likely intends to license it. DeWitt was adamant, saying several times "We are not walking away from webOS."

[…] DeWitt said that there would be staff reductions, but told the team that the company needs people "that are serious about winning" and again reiterated HP's commitment to developing webOS as a platform. Both DeWitt and Bradley were clear that the current business model of webOS wasn't working primarily due to lackluster hardware, arguing that HP needed to stop "trying to force non-competitive products into the market."

HP to Discontinue WebOS Devices

HP webOS discontinued

In an absolutely stunning move, HP announced today that it plans to "discontinue operations for WebOS devices". They specifically refer to the TouchPad and WebOS handsets. According to the brief mention in the press release, HP claims that they will "continue to explore options to optimize the value of WebOS software going forward".

As an initial response, I feel that this is a knee jerk response to the lackluster worldwide response to the recent crop of WebOS phones (Pre 2, Veer, Pre 3) as well as the TouchPad tablets along with Monday's announcement of Google acquiring Motorola Mobility. My guess is that HP will choose to either aggressively court licensees to produce WebOS hardware or they may look to shift the platform to embedded devices such as printers and as an secondary "instant-on" OS for their PC line.

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