Which Should I Keep, an HP TouchPad or a RIM Playbook?

Mike Halsey MVP
Feb 2, 2012
Updated • Nov 30, 2012
Mobile Computing

As a tech author, blogger and reviewer I get technology sent to me periodically or I pick up bits and pieces myself.  This does mean that I can occasionally find something being replaced when its not too old.  This is about to happen with two tablets, an HP TouchPad 32Gb and a RIM Playbook 16Gb.  Now I'll start by saying that the actual 'Gb' storage volume on each tablet is probably irrelevant as I only store files either on my desktop PC, my laptop or in the cloud.  There's no point in having two tablets though so I need to choose which one to keep.

This isn't as easy a decision as you might think.  The HP TouchPad has a very useful 10 inch screen, but there's a weight that comes with this.  The RIM Playbook is much ligahter as it's smaller, but the 7 inch screen isn't quite as capacious.  Then there's the fact that the HP TouchPad has been discontinued (I picked mine up in the fire sale late last year) which does affect both the number and quality of available apps, and updates to the operating system itself.  That said, the RIM Playbook's future is also in some doubt and the prices of these tablets are now falling too.

There some fundamental differences between the two machines.  Cameras are one good example where the TouchPad has just a 1.3MP webcam on the front while the Playbook sports both front and rear cameras, with the rear one being a healthy 5MP resolution.  The Playbook also has an HDMI output, which the touchpad lacks.  The Touchpad is a far sleeker-looking device however with an operating system that's simplicity itself not just to use, but to completely master.  The TouchPad also has a slightly faster processor, running at 1.2Ghz when compared to the 1GHz of the Playbook and the GPS and route-planning on the tablet are lightning fast.

In short though, there are huge numbers of reasons why you might want or prefer one type of tablet over another.  For example the iPad 2 is extremely light and has a big 10 inch screen, while some Android tablets are just as light and come in a wide variety of form-factors and weights.

In short then I thought this might be a great opportunity to kick off a discussion over which of these two tablets is better, and which one you think I should keep.  WebOS is a very effective and highly polished operating system.  Currently QNX on the Playbook isn't quite there if you don't have a Blackberry smartphone (I use a Windows Phone) and will continue to miss out some critical apps until the next operating system update eventually arrives.  It's due this month but has been pushed back many times since last fall.

So which tablet do you think I should keep and why?  Which is the better tablet, the best hardware, the most accessible operating system and the most expandable system?  Which works best with cloud services and has the bext software support?  It will be interesting to hear your views on these two machines.


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  1. Darkvader said on August 3, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    No brainer, you need to keep your HPTouchpad,

    You can leave WebOS if you want and install ICS on a dual boot setup or you can install the resent CM10 Jelly bean.

    I’m sure most of the future Android updates will be ported too.

  2. Adam said on July 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Really? isn’t BB just a bad joke that hasn’t gone away? The simple fact that you can run webOS, Android, and some linux distros from a tablet vs… no native email client? Unless you buy the BB phone and tether it. That seems cruel and unusual. They were once great, and now it is sad to see them in decline.

  3. Kao said on February 4, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Keep the playbook and sell me the TouchPad. :)

  4. The Death Bat said on February 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    I think I’ll have to go against the majority of the consensus here. While the Touchpad is a very sleek device and can dual-boot with Android, I believe the Blackberry Playbook is the better choice in the long-term future. That’s because, Research In Motion (RIM), the company that produces Blackberry smartphones and tablets, have repeatedly stated they are not giving up on the Playbook, a stark contrast to how HP handled the Touchpad last August. RIM announced that the Playbook will receive a major software update, in the form of Playbook OS 2.0, coming this mid-February. With the anticipated software update, Playbook users will be able to run Android apps on their device. Also it is expected that RIM may eventually add a native e-mail client on the Playbook, sometime after the OS 2.0 update. Recently, a few days ago, there was a leaked rumor that RIM was planning to release an updated Playbook that would have a faster 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, built-in HSPA+ (3.5G) data connection from AT&T, and be enabled with Near Field Communication (NFC). In addition, a possible 10-inch Blackberry tablet has not been ruled out yet. While webOS is in the gradual transition to open source, there are no OEMs that can currently take webOS seriously. Hardware support was essentially pulled last August when the Touchpad was discontinued, and Open webOS 1.0 isn’t expected to be released until September or October 2012. Frankly with the mobile industry evolving and growing at such a rapid pace, there may be almost no hope for webOS to regain its former glory, or be a serious contender to iOS or Android. At the best, it will simply be a tinker toy for hackers and developers. Anyways getting back to the main point, I think keeping the Blackberry Playbook is a better choice than sticking with the Touchpad because you can always expect customer support and future software updates. For example, if something happens to your Touchpad and it becomes “bricked”, you can’t expect HP to replace or repair your broken device. Remember, HP gave up on the Touchpad months ago. However if you have warranty on your Blackberry Playbook, like how I do, then you can contact RIM anytime you have a problem with your Playbook. I know at this point I may sound like a Blackberry employee or sponsorer, but let me assure you, I’m not. I was only giving my in-depth opinion whether you should’ve kept the HP TouchPad, or the Blackberry Playbook. Have a nice day, ciao!

    1. charliechan said on February 6, 2012 at 4:39 am

      I agree with you 100%! I currently own a PlayBook, I’ve used all major OS platforms for tablets and I will say the BlackBerry PlayBook OS will need improving, and I’ve seen screen shots and demonstrations of the new OS v.2.0 and It is many times better then what was available now. Plus RIM is not abandoning the PlayBook anytime soon like HP with the Touchpad.

  5. ilev said on February 3, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Give them both to charity as they both are failure.

  6. deos said on February 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Touchpad for sure. Despite installing CM9 I’m using webos by default and only switching to CM9 if I need some apps. Btw. I have ubuntu as well, so 3 OS’s for price of 1, you can’t get any better

  7. Leslie said on February 3, 2012 at 5:17 am

    You astound me – its obvious that any self respecting IT person would keep both. If you have got no room then you need to either kick the kids out of home or extend your garage.

  8. Virtualguy said on February 3, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Check out the NOVO Aurora at merimobiles.com. It is Chinese made, but has been been very good reviews. Not available in the U.S. yet, can be ordered and shipped from merimobiles.com. This is not an endorsement of said site, just food for thought…

    1. Virtualguy said on February 3, 2012 at 3:46 am

      been been = been getting…

  9. Virtualguy said on February 3, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Perhaps you should send both back and get the Ainol NOVO Aurora IPS HD screen ICS 4.0 16GB 1GB RAM 1.5GHz CPU HDMI 1080p + Free Hdmi Cable for just $200, shipped.

    Faster processor, ICS 4.0 installed, free HDMI cable. I think I’m going to cancel my Playbook order and order this baby.

  10. Edward Murphy said on February 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    The HP Touchpad is the better Tablet by far and I like webOS better then android, but I am willing to take the PB off your hands.

    1. Marisano said on April 21, 2012 at 7:07 am

      The PB’s not an android device. It uses QNX, the current UI of which is said to have been largely lifted from – get this – webOS (!), except that it kept the gestures (which folks say were inexplicably removed from webOS when it went TP).

  11. Dean said on February 2, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Just send the one you don’t want this way. ;-)

  12. Koji said on February 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I would keep the PB. 1st, OS2 coming out very soon, RIM stands by the playbook so you can expect future updates still whereas the alternative doesn’t. I don’t have a blackberry and was originally a iphone/ipad supporter, but being able to sideload programs with the Playbook can do is so much better than jailbreaking and risking to brick your tablet. Now I don’t know if the Touchpad can sideload, but I do know that you’ll need to root it if you want to be putting beta OS’s in there which you don’t know if it’ll ever come out of a final version.

  13. Mark said on February 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    What will you be doing with the tablet that you’re NOT keeping?

    Just asking; but, to be clear, after all of the soap opera ineptitude that HP heaped upon the world with regard to its WebOS tablets and smartphones, your answer just might sway my vote…

    (I had been waiting and waiting and waiting for a North American Pre3 to replace my Pre Plus…Aaauugh!!!)

  14. Leland said on February 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I too would go for the TouchPad since you can install Android. Plus it is possible to dual boot webOS and Android (CM7 or CM9). CM7 is based on Gingerbread and CM9 on ICS. Either way you get access to Android apps in addition to what you get with webOS. To me this seems like a winner.

  15. Steve Mink said on February 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    As other have siad, unless portability is your primary consideration, a dual-boot webOS/CM9 HP Touchpad every time.

  16. paul(us) said on February 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    The HP touchpad, not only because the faster processor, the sleeker-looking, the beter service, but also because the MTBF of HP is the best.

  17. Brian Rogers said on February 2, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I’m with Gopal. I’m rocking CM9 on my Touchpad and it’s like butter!

  18. Tyler said on February 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Unfortunately I can’t be much help… but I really want to know the answer since I was considering a PlayBook! (I have a Blackberry though so that could skew my opinion.)

  19. Gopal Vanamamalai said on February 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I would recommend to keep the hp touchpad. I’m one of those people who grabbed a hp touchpad during the fire sale. Currently i have installed android ICS (CM9) on it and am really enjoying the tablet experience. Even though the CM9 is in alpha stage it is buttery smooth and able to install ton of apps from the android market. There are still some bugs that needs to worked out, but none the less having a $99 android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet is a great experience and nothing can beat that.

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