Early reviews of HP's TouchPad tablet: A "world of potential," but "no match for the iPad"The first reviews of HP’s iPad competitor, the TouchPad (starting at $499 for the 16 GB version, on sale July 1), are just hitting the web, and they’re profoundly mixed.

On the one hand, reviewers seem enamored of the TouchPad’s WebOS software, which “works beautifully” when it comes to switching between apps, notifying you of incoming emails and impending events, and pulling contact info from your various social networks into the tablet’s addess book.

Then, there’s the bad news: the TouchPad’s “thick,” “rather hefty” shell, the bugs and overall “lack of polish,” the single, front-facing camera that’s only for video chat (no stills), and HP’s woefully sparce app store (just 300 tablet apps, versus about 90,000 for the iPad).

The HP TouchPad isn’t without its fans—Ed Baig of USA Today, for one, says it has a “world of potential”—but so far, I’m not seeing anyone who’s recommending the TouchPad over Apple’s towering iPad 2.

A few opinions…

Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal:

…despite its attractive and different user interface, this first version is simply no match for the iPad. It suffers from poor battery life, a paucity of apps and other deficits.

Tim Stevens, Engadget:

We all wanted the TouchPad to really compete, to give us a compelling third party to join the iOS and Android boxes on the ballot. But, alas, this isn’t quite it.

David Pogue, The New York Times:

In this 1.0 incarnation, the TouchPad doesn’t come close to being as complete or mature as the iPad or the best Android tablets; you’d be shortchanging yourself by buying one right now, unless you’re some kind of rabid A.B.A. nut (Anything but Apple) … but there are signs of greatness here. H.P. is coming to this battle very late, but it says it intends to stay the course. True, it’s tilting at windmills — but at least it’s riding an impressive steed.

Joshua Topolsky, This is My Next:

Still, the bottom line here is that the stability and smoothness of the user experience is not up to par with the iPad or something like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, even if many of the underlying ideas are actually a lot better and more intuitive than what the competition offers. That, coupled with the minuscule number of quality apps available at launch make this a bit of a hard sell right now.

Ed Baig, USA Today:

Even as a fan of the iPad it’s good to see robust competition among tablets. And there’s an awful lot to like about the first webOS tablet. But before HP can even hope to challenge Apple, it will need to need to supply more apps and exterminate a few bugs.

here’s the thing: Based on the early TouchPad reviews, it looks like the iPad 2 still rules the roost as far as tablets are concerned.

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