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A sub-$200 tablet from Amazon is also on the way in late 2011 or early 2012 (2 each. 1 in 7" and 1 in 10" format). It will depend on what your NEED (vs you're marketing-hype driven "want") is. Here's my take on the TouchPad after living with it for a week.

Several things that it should do that have been limited by HP.

1. Print to network printer... only if it's an HP printer. iOS will do it if you have ANY printer plugged into an Apple Air[something or other] but there's also 3rd party support to print through the Mac to any printer it sees. It would be nice to see someone munge a stack to print to ANY LJ4 compatible printer regardless of how it broadcasts itself on the LAN.

2. Blue-tooth pairing with phone. This allows phone calls and text messages to be routed to the pad from your paired phone as long as you're within 30 feet of the phone (blue tooth range)... IF the phone is a WebOS phone. Again, the BT protocol stack should allow this to work regardless of phone OS. This was a limitation created by HP to drive phone sales.

3. Blue Tooth pairing with keyboards. Slick. I now have a use for my iMac wireless keyboard. Works great.

4. WiFi only (no cell phone connectivity). The hardware had spots inside the case for the supporting modules but it was clearly "for future development". The same hurdles of the iPod Touch in that you have to have a hot spot to connect through.

1 & 2 were things I didn't even know it could do. Once I learned of them, I was disappointed that they didn't work with all brands of printers/phones but neither were functions I expected to be there and lost.

4 was a known going in. It would be nice at the office to have cell connectivity since WiFi traffic is jammed and scanned. Other than that, if it becomes too big an issue I can drop back and punt with the smart phone or switch to a smart phone that can be a WiFi hot spot. I think the iOS will at extra costs for turning on that feature.

Beyond that, the WebOS is MUCH MUCH slicker than I expected. The dual core processor is snappy. I'm in no hurry to root it to the AdroidOS. Storage is plentiful. I already have something like a dozen movies on it in MP4 format (after taking a while to figure our what combination of settings to use for best quality v space). Music could fill it but that's already the function of the phone. The tablet is a better platform for visual stuff.

With HP rethinking their decision to shitcan the product (their app store is still running, they just pushed an OS update out yesterday, and they're ramping up for another production run of the tablets) I may have actually stumbled into another BestBuy GPS deal (where they mistakenly priced a $500 Garmin for $129 and saw every bit of inventory fly off the shelves in 3 days).

Last night, I was sitting at the iMac, working on several open windows and had the TouchPad tethered to it for file copies, etc. With the tablet set up in its case to stand portrait-wise, I found the additional screen very useful for yet other tasks instead of flipping through windows on the main screen (once there were enough open screen to fill the 27" real estate to the point that additional windows would end up stacked underneath). The TouchPad set at the low-center of my field of view doing the things that tended to need to "gas gauge" their way through a process or which could be easily navigated with taps instead of extensive typing. It just happened before I noticed; very naturally falling into this nice rhythm.

Rating? Thumbs up. At the $500 - $700 price of an iPad, I'd continue to opt out of tablets. For $99 - $149 the TouchPad is the shit! As-is, I can now wait patiently for a stable port of Android that includes access to the App store, etc. By that time we might be seeing the crunch from the affects of HP actually orphaning the platform (or not).
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