initial Impressions of the TouchPad

Oddly enough, I’m writing this from my iPad 2 (I have an external keyboard–the Apple iPad keyboard dock–which makes typing a bit easier).

I’ve spent the last hour with my new TouchPad, and I have some initial thoughts.

The first is that it isn’t an iPad. Its size makes me remember my iPad 1, although it’s probably a bit thicker than the iPad 1. I’d expect an iPad 1 case to work with the TouchPad. For the iPad user, the TouchPad doesn’t harbor many surprises. The main feature of WebOS is the use of “app cards” and “multi-tasking,” and those gestures are easy to learn. I’m not sure that I have a preference, but if Apple bought WebOS just for the patent dealing with the “cards,” I wouldn’t be opposed. I don’t find WebOS to be slow–it works well enough.

Where I’m finding the discrepancy from the iPad–more than anything else–is in apps. What is most surprising is the lack of KEY apps, such as a word processor or a handwriting app. I’ve got a couple of posts on WebOS forums right now, so I’m hoping that someone steps up with some suggestions. I’m really not planning on doing any writing on the device–but writing papers is one of the items I was hoping that my stepson would use his TouchPad for. The TouchPad comes with QuickOffice, but that version doesn’t allow the editing or creation of new documents (their website says it is coming–but will it now that the TouchPad is EOL?). Google Docs didn’t work for me. I did find one word processing app called Typewriter Beta (free) but it requires some basic markup commands that most word processors don’t. The blogging app (Blogsy) I’m working on is more “friendly” than Typewriter Beta–so I’m hoping there are other options.

I’ve found calculators and a drawing app, but I can’t find anything like Penultimate or Noteshelf. If my stepson were going to use the TouchPad as a notebook, he’ll need something like that. I also can’t compare the TouchPad to the iPad (1 or 2) without being able to judge its responsiveness to a capacitive stylus.

The app store is easy enough to navigate and search (some of it may even be better laid out than iTunes/the Apple App Store), but “general” WebOS apps (phone) are listed right along with TouchPad apps. There is a small greyed-out notification for apps that are TouchPad-friendly, but I’d rather have all the Tablet apps listed first. Pricing in general, seems to be equal to or less than the app store.

There’s only one ePub reader for the device, although there is a Kindle app. We don’t own any Kindle books, and I haven’t had the chance to try to ePub reader yet.

Because the device is still charging (came fully depleted), I haven’t tried to connect my MacBook and load any music or movies. I don’t know if my currently encoded movies will need to be re-coded for the TouchPad. We’ll see.

So far, music reading is horrible. The included Adobe Acrobat requires scrolling pages, and longer scores take seconds for pages to turn. I think back to my original reviews of music readers for the iPad, and even the worst of those apps are kicking the music-reading functionality of the TouchPad. Are you a musician who owns a TouchPad? I don’t have a good answer for a music reader right now.

It’s an exciting morning here, working with the TouchPad. It’s not a bad little device at all-it’s just not an iPad.

Should you buy one? If you want a tablet for web browsing and e-mail, go for it if you can find one. There’s a lot to be said for an eight-hour device that easily can go anywhere you want to go. Want a larger variety of apps and a guaranteed-to-continue OS? Save your money and buy an iPad.

I’ll post more as I work more with the device.

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