As expected, HP's big event on Wednesday was all about its upcoming smartphones and tablets, the Veer, Pre 3 and TouchPad. We'll have to wait a while to see whether HP's new gear can go toe-to-toe with iOS and Android -- no prices or release dates were announced at the event -- but for now we can at least see what HP is cooking up for WebOS this spring and summer.
At a time when phones with screens 4-inches and larger are becoming the norm, HP is going the opposite way with the Veer, a credit card-sized smartphone with a thickness of 0.59 inches. The HP Veer has a 2.6-inch multitouch screen, 800MHz processor, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and 8 GB of storage. It'll be available this spring.
The Pre 2 isn't available yet, but HP already has a new flagship smartphone in the pipeline with the Pre 3. Basic specs include a 1.4GHz processor, 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, 512MB of RAM, and a 3.58-inch display with 480-by-800 resolution (twice the resolution of previous Pre phones). The Pre 3 is coming this summer.
Contrary to rumors, HP did not announce a phone without a physical keyboard at its event Wednesday. The Pre 3 is still rocking the vertical slider with the largest QWERTY keyboard yet among Palm/HP phones. The keys are also backlit, for those late night texts.
Like many of the latest smartphones, the Pre 3 has a front-facing camera for video chat, along with a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. Still unresolved: whether you'll be able to make video calls over 3G, or just Wi-Fi.
The main attraction at HP's event was its long-awaited tablet, now known as the TouchPad. Its physical dimensions are nearly an exact duplicate of Apple's iPad, right down to the 9.7-inch multitouch display with 1024-by-768 resolution. It'll launch this summer for an as-yet unannounced price.
The TouchPad uses an interface similar to what previous WebOS devices featured. Open applications appear as stacks of cards. Notifications show up in the top bar. And the "just type" bar, which appears above the decks of cards, lets you search the phone or the Web, or type out Twitter status updates.
The TouchPad is actually the first WebOS device to rely on a virtual keyboard, but at first glance HP seems to have got it right. Number keys are included in the main layout, and you can resize the entire keyboard to fit your personal preferences.
At launch, the TouchPad will not include built-in 3G or 4G, but it can handle video chat over Wi-Fi and through other WebOS devices. For instance, if a call comes in on the Pre 3, you can take it on the TouchPad. The same goes for text messages.
HP will sell the typical array of accessories alongside the TouchPad, including a Bluetooth keyboard, Touchstone wireless charging dock, and a carrying case that doubles as a stand. No word on pricing for any of these.
Owners of the TouchPad and the Pre 3 get a bonus feature: Tapping the two devices together transfers Website URLs, text messages and phone calls, so you can use the phone to continue what you were doing on the tablet, or vice-versa.
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