Apple, Android, and now HP—the tablet wars are about to get really interesting. HP’s going after an Apple-like ecosystem with its phones and tablets all running on the same software platform, Palm’s “WebOS” (HP bought Palm last year, if you recall).
Here’s what was announced today:
The HP Veer is a tiny WebOS-based smartphone—roughly the same footprint as a credit card except thicker, of course. It’s got a 2.5-inch slide-up touchscreen that reveals a full QWERTY keyboard, 8GB of storage, an 800MHz Snapdragon CPU, and is compatible with 4G networks that use the HSPA+ standard (T-Mobile and/or AT&T depending on partnership deals).
The Veer will be available this spring—no pricing yet.
The Pre3 looks pretty impressive. It’s got a 1.4GHz processor, 3.6-inch touchscreen with 800×480 resolution, full QWERTY keyboard, and it’ll come in HSPA+ (AT&T and/or T-Mobile) and EVDO Rev. A flavors (Sprint and/or Verizon—3G only). It won’t be available until this summer, though.
No pricing for this one, either. Starting to notice a pattern?
Pretty dead-on as far as the previous rumors go, the HP TouchPad has a 9.7-inch screen with 1024×768 resolution, weighs 1.6 pounds and measures just over half an inch thick. It’s very, very similar in size to the iPad.
Unlike the iPad, it’s got a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, HP’s “Beats” audio technology and runs Adobe Flash. There will be a contact-less “Touchstone” charging dock (no wires between the tablet and dock) and an optional keyboard accessory as well.
A Wi-Fi version of the PalmPad will be available this summer, with 3G- and 4G-enabled versions to follow. As for pricing… there’s no pricing. It’ll be “announced at a later date.” That’s unfortunate, as the price would really make the TouchPad either a whole lot more interesting or a non-starter.
The fact that there’s no price tag hopefully doesn’t indicate that it’ll be more expensive than everyone expects it to be. Maybe HP’s waiting to see what the next iPad gets priced at in order to undercut it. It’s nice to dream, right?
HP’s big selling point is that all its WebOS-based devices will work harmoniously with one another. Once you put the Pre3 on its contact-less charger, it’ll synch with a nearby TouchPad. If you get a text message on the Pre3, for instance, it’ll show up on the TouchPad too. You can respond from the tablet or even use it to make a phone call.
One of the coolest features is “Touch-to-Share.” If you have a website open on the PalmPad, for instance, you can literally touch the Pre3 phone to the tablet and the website will open on the phone.
HP will be extending elements of WebOS to its other products lines, too. We’ll see WebOS software that runs on Windows computers (both desktops and laptops) and printers later this year.
We need prices, of course. While it’s likely that the Pre3 will be priced similarly to other smartphones ($150 to $200 range) and the Veer may hit the lower end ($100 or so), the wildcard is the TouchPad. The idea of owning an HP phone AND an HP tablet only works if the tablet is priced aggressively enough to lure consumers away from Android or Apple.
HP would be wise to price the base-level 16-gigabyte TouchPad at $499 or less in order to even begin to make a run at the tablet crown. And that’s assuming it can outmaneuver all the Android and BlackBerry tablets that’ll be coming out this year in order to take a clear shot at Apple.
Whatever the case, HP’s building up a nice head of steam here. These new WebOS devices could carve out a sizable chunk of the market over time if consumers respond positively enough and the gadgets are priced to move.
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