HP’s new rock on the horizon – the Topaz

After the recent monstrosity that was the Slate, HP’s new attempt on the tablet market is the “Topaz”. The specs released recently (see this link) do not impress me to say the least, however there are certain interesting features. This device should have been released to the market yesterday, but instead it’s still in concept stage whereas many other manufacturers have released several iterations of their own tablets. HP is late, late, late. Again.

Design

First of all, Topaz looks like an iPad with an HP logo on it. As far as I can see, there’s absolutely nothing unique about it. It is unclear whether the body will be plastic or metal. It appears that HP is more focussed on technical capabilities and prefers not to bother with the housing. Just like their laptops? ;-) The Topaz doesn’t look as ugly as the Slate, but it appears like a cheap replica. Whether the back is plastic (cheaper) or aluminium (better) it is still likely to be inferior to Apple’s latest developments. Aluminium itself is a very light and flexible metal prone to deformation (like if you drop it). A thin aluminium casing will be no match for Apple’s proprietary alloys, which are light and durable. They get better and better with every iteration of Apple’s devices.

The Market

The market has moved on, and will move further by the time Topaz is released. Looking into the future, I predict that its release will not be sensational at all. I even dare to say that HP Topaz will not be competing with the iPad, but with budget tablets which (as we saw at CES) are sure to flood the market soon. Yes, HP, think carefully about the pricing strategy. Your device should cost half the price of the next iPad to even be considered for purchase. The next iPad? Yes! By the time Topaz hits the market, there will undoubtedly be a new iPad, more powerful, more capable, probably better looking, lighter and more attractive.

HP can’t do anything better than printers, or can they?

Well, scanners too, but I’m afraid that’s pretty much it. Take HP’s last few generations of Windows Mobile Smartphones – bulky and slow, inferior to the competitor’s products, such as HTC mobiles. HP laptops? I’m currently typing on one, must have the worst ever cooling system to be released. However, things have changed now that HP owns Palm. HP’s WebOS promises to be, “Amazingly powerful. Surprisingly simple.” – sounds bold, but will it live up to our crazy-high expectations? Why would HP, who never were really good at making anything but printers, be able to come up with a breakthrough OS to take over the world?

One can but hope.

Here are some of the key features of WebOS:

Admit it. You need a quick refresher, right?

“One view of what matters to you”

Integrating Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MSN and Yahoo instant messages in one single view. The system will identify the person sending it, no matter which IM platform they’re using. Sounds a bit complex rather than “Surprisingly simple”. Never seen this before, have we? ;)

“Multiple Applications”

Amazing! We’ve never seen that before! ;-)

“Intuitive Interface” – “HP webOS uses multitouch gestures and a touchscreen…”

Wow that’s totally innovative. No need to comment here either!

The list of amazing new features goes on. The system supports “Notifications” and “Universal search” too! So far there is no obvious reason for HP to be any better than the competitors (read: Apple, Samsung) who are already well established in the market.

This said, I am reasonably excited to see:

USB Host

The days of the Palm Pilot are over, yet Palm devices did have some cool features even before the recent collapse of Palm. Palm smartphones could act as a MiFi! Yes, your phone, in your pocket, working as a WiFi hotspot, very cool! Now there is a planned USB Host feature for the HP Topaz. This means you can plug your USB flash drive or your camera directly to the tablet and transfer information. Maybe even charge your phone via USB? Now that’s not innovative thinking!

Wireless Charging

Wireless charging is likely to become very popular with mobile devices in the near future. How does it work? Inductive coupling is not new, it’s used in electric toothbrushes to avoid short circuit as they might be wet when you push them onto the charger. Looking amazing at first, Wireless Charging is nothing but a coil on the base unit with a current running through it, which creates a magnetic field picked up by another coil in the wirelessly charged mobile device. The technology is pure electromagnetics and has been around for a while. Still cool.

Let’s hope the Topaz arrives and impresses the hell out of us.

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  • http://twitter.com/Kinny KRaSiVy 

    Apparently, the new Touchstone (v2) support on the ‘Topaz’ will also provide wireless connectivity — which should be interesting if it works as well as it has been described.

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