Fire sale HP TouchPad: Pros and cons

So it's cheap -- should you really rush out to buy an abandoned product? Here are the arguments for and against.

If you're still looking for a Hewlett-Packard TouchPad at the fire sale price of $99, you still have a few more places to look. But is it worth the effort? After all, HP's decision to stop making WebOS hardware puts the platform in jeopardy, so you may be buying a device whose operating system is, at best, in limbo.

Here are some pros and cons to owning an HP TouchPad now:

Pro: Cool Software Features

HP's TouchPad has a handful of features that trump the iPad and most Android tablets. At $499, those features weren't enough to made the TouchPad worth buying, but a $99 tablet with excellent multitasking, great-sounding audio and Facebook integration is definitely worth considering.

Con: No More Big Apps, for Now

While homebrew developers may continue to squeeze out apps for WebOS, most developers aren't going to waste time on a platform that, for the moment, has no future. Even if HP licenses or sells the software, the WebOS App Catalog is in for another long, sleepy period akin to when Palm sold the OS to HP. That probably means no Netflix, no Shazam, no Skype, no Hulu Plus and no Spotify for the foreseeable future.

Pro: Freedom to Tinker

As you read this, clever hackers are trying to install Android on the HP TouchPad. Sudden interest in the tablet is sure to prompt lots of little projects like this, so if you're into hacking, the TouchPad's $99 price means you don't stand to lose much if the thing ends up a paperweight.

Con: Questionable Software Support

WebOS may have a long life ahead if HP manages to license the software or find a buyer. But that's an optimistic view, and so far, there are no guarantees. If you find a bug or are wishing for a missing feature, don't count on a fix anytime soon.

Pro: Novelty and History

Even if WebOS fails to live on, $99 isn't much to spend on a piece of history. It could be the last WebOS device ever made. At the very least, it's a memento of HP's sudden switch from the world's biggest PC maker to an enterprise software company. Sounds like a collector's item to me.

Con: Average Hardware

Don't expect to be floored by the HP TouchPad's figure. Although a dual-core processor is inside, the TouchPad is as thick as a first-generation iPad, and its glossy black finish is a fingerprint magnet.

Pro: It's $99, Silly

All other pros and cons aside, the TouchPad is a 10-inch touchscreen Internet tablet priced at $99. This kind of affordability is unprecedented and may never been seen again. If all you want to do is curl up with a tablet and get on the web, the TouchPad will get you there for cheap.

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Tags HPtablet PChardware systemstabletsHewlett-Packard

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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