updated 01:55 pm EDT, Tue July 12, 2011
HP TouchPad 4G tackles quirks just weeks in
HP quickly confirmed rumors Tuesday through unveiling its first-ever cellular version of the TouchPad. Labeled as the TouchPad 4G, it adds support for HSPA+ 3G and can get cell data either prepaid or on a subscription. The webOS tablet is, in a rarity, also a genuine upgrade on its own: the new version uses a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon instead of the 1.2GHz chip on Wi-Fi only TouchPads.
Apart from starting at 32GB, HP hasn't given clues as to the exact ship date of the TouchPad 4G or what it will cost. It should be available as an exclusive by the time school resumes in September.
The strategy is an unusual one for HP and may reflect its rush to get the TouchPad out as a competitor to the iPad. Early owners have liked the promise of webOS and some of its features but have complained of sometimes sluggish performance and bugs. A 1.5GHz chip may solve the performance by itself but should be helped by an update that HP Executive VP Todd Bradley has now said should arrive in about ten days' time.
HP is putting a large amount of faith in webOS and plans a marketing blitz by the end of the month, with long-term plans involving dual-booting PCs and even printers. The Palo Alto PC builder has moved Jon Rubinstein to head up general home product development and could see much of the TouchPad's strategy and Rubinstein's Apple experience carry over to the entire HP lineup.
For AT&T, the TouchPad is one of the few tablets it will directly sell outside of the iPad this year and is a possible experiment to gauge how well non-Apple tablets fare in its shops.