If the current crop of alternatives to the iPad doesn't enthrall you, just wait three more weeks or so. HP has announced that its long-awaited TouchPad tablet will become available on July 1 in the United States. Participating retailers and e-tailers will start taking pre-orders on June 19.
The 16GB TouchPad will cost $499.99, while the 32GB model will cost $100 more—exactly what Apple charges for its second-generation iPad. Folks hoping for a bargain may still have to look at something like Asus' Eee Pad Transformer, which runs Android 3.0 and starts at $399.99 with 16GB of capacity.
The HP TouchPad doesn't run Android, of course. HP has outfitted it with a new version of its webOS operating system. The device also features a 9.7" display with a 1024x768 resolution, a front-facing camera for video calling, a dual-core processor with a relatively high clock speed, and usual wireless connectivity options like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—again, just like the iPad 2.
I expect good things on the software front, since webOS works rather well on phones, but a couple of downsides may turn users away. First, the TouchPad may have a rather slim app repertoire, considering this will be webOS's very first appearance on a tablet. Second, the TouchPad will be rather thick (0.54") and heavy (1.6 lbs) compared to both the 0.34", 1.33-pound iPad 2 and the 0.47", 1.49-pound Eee Pad Transformer. If you've ever played with some tablets in person, you've probably noticed that small differences in weight and thickness are more noticeable than they might seem on paper.