HP TouchPad: Too Costly to Keep Up?

 7 Jul 2011 - By Omar Yesid Mariño+
 omar@myddnetwork.com

The HP TouchPad emerged onto the scene as a major competitor with Apple’s iPad but now that the machine has been on the market (and subsequently torn down so we all know what’s inside one of these beasts) we’re left to wonder if HP can afford to compete with the big dog.

The major selling points of the HP TouchPad is that it can do just about everything that an iPad can and more (thanks to compatibility with Flash and all the thousands of websites which use it). The price tag is also a major draw as well. So, can the margin HP earns on each one of these (and it can’t be very big) enough to keep the TouchPad afloat or will it go the way of the dodo bird?

HP TouchPad Exposed

The TouchPad is essentially a second generation tablet device. Running on the Palm operating system, the TouchPad features a 9.7 inch 1,024 x 768 screen slapped into a 1.65 pound shell. Inside there is a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and a full GB of RAM. (However, don’t expect that speed to appear in the boot time—the TouchPad is notoriously slow in that department).

Touchpad / HP

While the display is bright, crisp, and every bit as beautiful as the iPads, the speakers are really something to behold. While they pale in comparison to even a moderate set of PC speakers, these bad boys outperform just about any tablet on the market—though to be truthful, most of the time you’ll be wearing headphones if you’re that worried about sound quality.

The TouchPad is available in 16GB and 32GB models so you can choose your limitations—no upgrading or SD slots here folks.

One strange feature (or lack thereof) is the missing rear-facing camera. There is a 1.3 megapixel lens in the front but nothing on the back. While tablets aren’t exactly meant for snapping family photos, it’s nice to have a camera when you want one.

The nine hour battery life HP promised sounds about right even though it’s a bit shy of the 10 hour time the iPad 2 allows its users to tinker. All that from a relatively small 6300 mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery.

You get 802.1 b/g/n wireless built in for connectivity and cellular service is available with a separate contract—not unlike most tablets on the market. You do also get Bluetooth but also, interestingly enough, built-in wireless LAN access.

HP Touchpad tablet

You get a microUSB port and a 3.5 millimiter headset jack as well, just in case you were wondering.

So How Much Does the Hp TouchPad Cost To Make?

Good luck getting the official figures from HP but through the wonders of reverse engineering, the Internet has at least some idea. You see, some enterprising fellows decided to crack the TouchPad open and catalog all the shiny parts inside the machine and now the Internet is doing a little side-by-side price comparison.

The retail prices of the machines range from $499 for the 16GB model and $599 for the 32GB version. However, by some crafty comparisons, the Internet has learned that the 16GB version would cost (if you were to manufacture it yourself with parts bought piecemeal) a whopping $328. That means that HP is, potentially, making less than 30% (a critical markup figure that smart businessmen almost never miss) on each device.

While the prices (both retail and of the parts) compare favorably to the iPad, it’s interesting to note that HP may well be better able to absorb any price discrepancies as they have such a huge catalog of other products available to boost their bottom line.

Rival for iPad

So is the HP TouchPad doomed to a quick and frightful death? Possibly—but not because of costs.

The lack of certain features modern tablet users consider essential and the vague promises of “upgrades” which may or may not come to fruition may be the key. If the TouchPad is viewed as a first foray in a competitive market, it’s easier to accept than a true rival of the iPad.

Still, Flash compatibility is a huge factor, allowing users access to a very powerful set of software tools that could really tip the scales.

If you’d like to learn more about the HP TouchPad, visit the official HP website






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