HP TouchPad Review

HP Decides Not to Spin off PC Division, webOS Future Still Uncertain

New HP Logo Thursday, October 27th marked the end of a long period of uncertainty for the HP faithful, as the company announced via conference call to not spin-off their Personal System Group and personal computer business. A period of evaluating various strategic alternatives revealed the unsurprising analysis that spinning off the world's still-profitable #1 PC business would not be a cost-effective move for HP.

Meg Whitman, HP's newly-appointed president and CEO stated:

"HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It's clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees," "HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger."

Of course, seeing as how WebOS and the Palm Global Business Unit fall under this division of HP, Executive Vice President of the PSG Todd Bradley said that HP is committed to WIndows 7 and 8-based tablets going forward and are still working to make a decision about "the long-term future of WebOS within HP over the next couple of months".

WebOS Dev Head Leaves for Nokia

While the exodus of top WebOS and Palm talent from HP has slowed in recent weeks, HP's former VP of Worldwide Developer Relations Richard Kerris has just announced that he has left HP and is now employed by Nokia. Prior to the move to Nokia, Kerris was most recently heard from publicly announcing the availability of the full version of QuickOffice for Touchpads approximately two months ago.

Kerris will not be alone at Nokia, as former Palm VP of Design Peter Skillman has been with Nokia since September of 2010.

TouchPad Receives WebOS 3.04 Update

Touchpad Discount Despite the level of uncertainty surrounding the future of WebOS and HP's Personal Systems Group, the TouchPad has nevertheless received a new OTA update, making good on HP's promises to continue updating the device and the OS. Bearing version number 3.0.4 build 77, this rather surprising release brings about a number of improvements, including:

  • A native camera application (finally!)
  • Bluetooth pairing enabling non-WebOS phones to use the TouchPad as a speakerphone
  • OGG Vorbis audio file support

In addition to the major improvements seen above, HP has also seen fit to make the usual performance tweaks to the OS, alongside the V8 Javascript rendering engine and the Enyo framework. According to PreCentral's Derek Kessler, HTML5 video playback is now enabled in the browser. Numerous other users who have installed the update are reporting performance boosts across the board.

Apotheker Out, As HP Names Meg Whitman CEO

HP's board of directors today announced that Léo Apotheker has "stepped down" as CEO. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has been appointed as the new president and chief executive officer.

"We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman's caliber and experience step up to lead HP," said HP Board Director Ray Lane. "We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution. She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP's board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets."

HP Begins Layoffs at the Palm Global Business Unit

HP is currently in the process of letting a large amount of former Palm Inc. employees go amid the recent decision by HP to terminate its mobile hardware business. WSJ's Digital Daily reports that as many at 525 people will be fired, more than half the current headcount.

"As communicated on August 18, HP will discontinue the development of webOs devices within the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011, which ends Oct. 31, 2011," an HP spokesperson told AllThingsD. "As part of this decision, the webOS GBU is undergoing a reduction in workforce."

More Details on the Final TouchPad Production Run

HP TouchPad 4G Taiwanese Industry publication DigiTimes has posted a new article today giving some possible quantities alongside a timeframe for the "final batch" of clearance-priced TouchPads. According to the article, late October is when eager WebOS fans will have an opportunity to snag a final new TouchPad, as HP is planning on aiding their component supplies by assembling 100,000 to 200,000 unassembled 9.7-inch TouchPads. No additional information was given regarding the allocation of 16, 32, and 64GB versions or if any HSPA 4G TouchPads would be included in this final run.

Another interesting bit of info from the DigiTimes article cites an Inventec source in stating that that the smaller 7-inch TouchPad "Go/Opal" has indeed been abandoned and no units will be produced. Today's update comes on the heels of another DigiTimes article from Tuesday that reported HP's suppliers in Taiwan (including ODM Inventec) are sitting on various components for approximately 100,000 7-inch TouchPads that were originally slated to begin production at the end of this quarter. It is highly unlikely at this point that a production-ready 7" TouchPad will ever see the light of day, unlike the more established 9.7" versions.

HP to Resume Production on Final Batch of TouchPads

HP TouchPad inventory availability In the latest (but by no means final) twist to the wild two week saga of the discontinuation of all WebOS hardware, HP has finally made an official announcement to their The Next Bench site updating us on the status of the remaining TouchPad inventory earmarked for clearance.

Most surprising of all, according to HP's Mark Budgell's post today, is that HP has been so "pleasantly surprised" by the flurry of excitement online and in retail stores over the TouchPad that they have given in to the overwhelming response of the market and decided to produce one final batch of new devices. There is no indication as to how many units qualify as a "run" nor any specifics about color, storage capacity, or CPU speed.

Full version of QuickOffice HD released for TouchPad

Despite missing last week's self-imposed deadline by a few days, HP has finally come through with the highly-anticipated update for QuickOffice for TouchPad owners. HP's Jon Zilber has posted to the Official Palm Blog that an update was made available yesterday to add full document editing and creation capabilities for MS Word and Excel files.

Unfortunately, PowerPoint presentations remain read-only, but two out of three is certainly a huge improvement for frustrated WebOS users. The new version of QuickOffice HD is a free download in the App Catalog for TouchPad users and, as mentioned earlier this month, a paid version with editing capabilities is promised down the road for WebOS smartphones users.

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.

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