A quick thought on the current state of play among ‘iPad rival’ tablets: if there were any justice in the world the HP TouchPad would be getting some heavy holiday buzz and talked about as a serious competitor for the iPad, and the Kindle Fire would be the nearly dead-on-arrival, discontinued tablet.
I’ve been trying out a TouchPad for several weeks now and a Kindle Fire for a little under a week. And it seems crazy to me that the Fire is the device that’s hot and buzz-worthy and considered a serious iPad rival (which is just plain silly) while the TouchPad was discontinued by HP when it had just barely hit the market.
I was messing around with both tablets again last night and I just couldn’t get that out of my head. The one tablet that was quite nice to use and feels to me like the next best choice to an iPad is the one with no future apparently; and the one that is hugely disappointing and far from a pleasure to use is the one touted as a big holiday hit.
I understand some of the reasons for things being this way. With the Kindle Fire it’s all about the ‘ecosystem’ and content that Amazon can provide. I get that, and that Amazon can rival Apple in terms of ability to deliver music, media, books and so on to their tablet device. And they’ve got a superb brand, one that tons of consumers (including me) trust and have used for numerous purchases over recent years.
For me, that hasn’t been enough to make me want to use the Fire. It’s not even been a full week yet, and I’m bored senseless with the Fire. Here’s a few of the reasons why and why it feels crazy to me to see the contrasting fortunes of the TouchPad and the Fire:
— The Touchpad has a great rapid app switching method – the Fire has none.
— The Touchpad has some superb apps, that look and feel as good as iPad apps. The quantity of apps in its app store is not great, and there are many leading apps that I can’t find webOS versions of – but there are a good number of really top-notch apps for the TouchPad. Just to name a few: USA Today, TapNote, Guardian Zeitgeist, and Paper Mache (an Instapaper client). I haven’t found a single app on the Fire that comes anywhere close to an iPad app – and I’ve seen a number that are just completely crappy compared to their iPad equivalents.
— The Touchpad has hardware volume buttons like the iPad – the Fire doesn’t.
— The Touchpad has its sleep/wake button in a sensible place and a physical home button – the Fire has no physical home button, and its sleep/wake/power button in a dumb, awkward position.
— The Touchpad is smooth to use and responds well the vast majority of the time. On the Fire, taps often go unrecognized, and there’s noticeable lag and slowness in many areas.
I would’ve included some Kindle Fire screencaps here too, perhaps even app comparison shots – but there’s no way to take one on the Fire.
Even though I got the TouchPad at a knockdown price, it feels every inch a quality tablet; whereas the Fire feels very inch a sub $200 tablet, a tablet that’s great for buying stuff from Amazon on and very little else.
It really is s shame that HP appear to have mishandled and neglected the TouchPad and webOS so badly that their future is in doubt. It’s also a bit of a dark comedy to watch how HP have still not even decided on what they are doing with webOS – so it just hangs in limbo.