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Hands on with the HP TouchPad

HP’s TouchPad seems to be the first real iPad competitor. The webOS-based tablet is certainly the only device I’ve seen to far to tempt me away. It’s got some really clever features, and the multi-tasking UI is streets ahead of the one on iOS. I wondered whether HP’s acquisition of Palm would work out, and I’m very pleased to see it seems to be going well so far. I’d love to try out a TouchPad for myself.

While there are certainly still problems with the tablet, they seem fixable in a way Android’s don’t because the webOS team appears to understand polish. The main problem seems to be a certain sluggishness to the platform, hopefully this is fixable with software updates rather than caused by a fundamental flaw low down in the platform.

But more and more I’m beginning to understand why the iPad doesn’t run Flash.

Then there’s Flash. Yes, the TouchPad comes with Adobe Flash built in. You can set Flash to load automatically in the browser, or load when you tap. I don’t really have much to report about Flash on the TouchPad that you haven’t read somewhere else in the context of an Android tablet: the performance isn’t very impressive. When I connected to MLB.com’s Flash-based video stream of a live baseball game, the TouchPad managed to play about four frames per second, and it was difficult to get it to respond to my touches to pause the stream. I tried to play the Flash-based Lexulous game on Facebook, but was completely unable to move my tiles onto the board. A visit to ESPN.com loaded a Flash ad that played so slowly that it basically locked up the browser. So: I can confirm that Flash runs on the TouchPad, but I can’t confirm that it runs well.

.:.