HP held a large press event this week to announce and show off their new webOS-based devices, in particular their brand new iPad competitor which is due .
First remember that HP bought troubled Palm and with it, their relatively new webOS mobile operating system. Now HP has unveiled not only 2 new smartphone products, but a brand new tablet as well to compete with the iPad, the (probably intentionally named) TouchPad. They also described and demoed their cloud-based syncing system called Synergy.
Pre3 and Veer Smartphones
First, the mobile phones. Predictably, there is a new version of the Pre, the Pre3. The Pre3 is about the same size as the older models, still has its full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, a rear-facing autofocus camera with flash and a 720p HD camcorder. The new must-have feature in smartphones today seems to be of course the front-facing webcam, and the Pre3 has a VGA fixed-focus camera.
Now the Veer looks like the kid brother to the Pre, and the photo shows approximately the relative size difference. It measures 84.0 mm (3.3″) x 54.5 mm (2.15″) x 15.1 mm (slightly thinner than the Pre) and weighs in at 103g (3.6oz). This is a featherweight gadget! And apart from the thickness, is almost as small as a credit card.
The Veer still packs in a full slide-out keyboard, 8GB of storage, WiFi, GPS, a 5-Megapixel camera and is a Tri-band UMTS, quad-band GSM/EDGE world phone.
Now to the TouchPad. Comes in either 16 or 23GB models, and has the usual bells and whistles like a gryoscope, accelerometer, compass, WiFi. What makes it stand out from the iPad (so far)? It has a 1.3 Megapixel front-facing webcam, Adobe Flash, and a dual-core CPU.
This is minor, but I like the fact that the virtual keyboard has a number row at the top – that would save me so much time typing.
What’s quite unique is HP’s new touch-to-share technology – another webOS device (like a phone) can be touched to the TouchPad to share web URLs. I’m assuming this technology can be easily expanded to share other data in the future.
Availability: summer of this year, with WiFi models starting first, followed by 3G then 4G devices. HP will also have to compete with Motorola and their Xoom tablet.
Synergy Cloud-based Syncing
Now the product that HP didn’t spend very much time on was their new syncing platform, Synergy. Sign into this service, enter your social networking and other information and all of this data is automatically sync’ed to your TouchPad, Pre3 or other webOS devices. So far, HP mentioned Facebook, Google, Microsoft Exchange, LinkedIn and Yahoo! accounts, although it probably can’t be that difficult to extend this model to other services and data.
This could be a very powerful selling point for buying only webOS devices and not ever having to go through the pain of migrating data to a different piece of hardware every time you upgraded.