HP has announced that its TouchPad tablet will be launched in Australia "later this year", after previously stressing it would be focussing on markets where webOS is currently available.
The HP TouchPad tablet has a 9.7in touchscreen with the same 1024x768 screen resolution as the iPad, and runs the Palm-developed webOS operating system. This software also powered the Palm Pre smartphone; a product that never made it to Australian shores.
The HP TouchPad was first announced in February, and will launch in the US on 1 July. At the time of its initial announcement, HP's Australian PR manager Brad Swiney revealed that HP would be "first be focussing on markets where webOS is currently available." However, in a media statement released today, HP confirmed that the first webOS tablet will be available in Australia "later this year", along with Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore.
In addition to its US launch on 1 July, the HP TouchPad will also be available in the UK, Ireland, France and Germany early next month.
The HP TouchPad is powered by a dual core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, and has a front facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video recording, 16 or 32GB of internal memory, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and stereo speakers. The first HP TouchPad tablet released in the US will be a Wi-Fi only version, with 3G versions to follow later in the year. It is not yet known whether HP will sell a 3G version of the device in Australia.
A key feature of the HP TouchPad's webOS operating system is "cards" — a unique way of swiping through multiple open applications. HP claims users can easily move back and forth between cards, as well as group related cards in stacks. Other webOS features on the HP TouchPad include a pop-up notification system, built-in Skype support, and HP Synergy, which groups contacts from multiple sources in a single application. The HP TouchPad tablet also handles wireless printing and will synchronise with Google Docs, QuickOffice, Dropbox and Box.net.
The HP TouchPad also has "touch-to-share" technology, which enables users to share content, read text messages and even answer phone calls from a compatible HP smartphone by simply tapping the devices together.
HP acquired struggling Palm for US$1.2 billion in July 2010, and the TouchPad tablet is the first of a suite of webOS products promised by the company. Along with the TouchPad, HP has also launched the Pre 3, and Veer smartphones in the US, though there is no word on Australian availability for either of these devices.
HP is yet to announce any local pricing details for the TouchPad.