After a splashy launch earlier this year, the HP TouchPad has remained conspicuously absent from the current tablet crush. Mind you, that wasn't entirely unexpected--the company never did name a timeline beyond "summer" at that launch event, and it was only in March that CEO Leo Apotheker mentioned June as the tablet's release date. Now, we have two leaks online indicating that July 17 may be the big unveil.
Amazon's TouchPad product page still lacks any availability info, and simply has a sign-up to be notified by e-mail when the TouchPad becomes available. But do a search on Amazon for "HP TouchPad" and you'll find a teaser that says the WebOS-based tablet will be released July 17. This follows leaked tips on Engadget indicating a $600 32GB TouchPad coming to OfficeMax on the 17th.
If July 17 is indeed the date, then it's a bit later than Apotheker originally noted. But it also tracks with Apotheker's recent comments at All Things Digital's D9 conference, about not releasing the TouchPad until its ready. Not rushing is a good call by HP; we've seen plenty of rushed tablets this year, led by RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook.
The big question, though, remains whether as much as five months after it was first introduced, can the HP TouchPad still wow consumers and compete with the current generation of tablets? Remember that HP's TouchPad launch was before the slim and sexy iPad 2 was announced; and it was before the wave of Android 3.x Honeycomb tablets washed ashore. Even after the launch, I questioned whether HP had done enough to compete with Apple and the Android Tablet Army; now, after the release of Apple iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the more urgent that question feels. The answer will have to wait until TouchPad ships. Apparently, soon.