Wolverton: Amazon’s new Kindle Fire can compete against Apple’s iPad

San Jose Mercury News tech columnist Troy Wolverton today delivered this column on Amazon’s newly-introduced Kindle Fire tablet, which he says may be the first “worthy competitor” to Apple’s iPad.

Apple, of course, has the big advantage of creating a market for tablet computers like the iPad and being able to deliver a product to its fiercely loyal fan base. Other companies, like Hewlett-Packard, have tried to break into the tablet business but have not been able to knock the iPad from its perch. Hewlett-Packard, of course, made the bewildering decision to cancel its TouchPad tablet this summer, mere weeks after entering the marketplace.

Amazon seems to have been
paying attention to the failings of other iPad competitors. Unlike
previous tablets, the Kindle Fire is not trying to be an iPad clone.
It’s got a much smaller screen than the iPad. It has a much smaller
amount of storage space. It doesn’t have any cameras, so you can’t use
it to take pictures or do video chats. And it only connects the Internet
via WiFi, not the cell phone networks.

But those differences
help make the Kindle Fire distinct — and allow Amazon to offer it for a
much lower price. At $200, the Kindle Fire is in a completely different
league than the iPad and the iPad knock-offs. That price is even $50
cheaper than Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, a similar device that’s
marketed as an eBook reader. It’s a price that, in these tough economic
times, is going to be a lot more accessible to mainstream consumers.

The San Jose Mercury news is the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Sun’s sister newspaper.

Black Friday for HP Touchpads

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If you haven’t heard by now, HP has made plans to exit webOS devices like its touchpads as it tries to emulate IBM’s IT service model. They made the announcement this past Thursday after making news that they may spin off their PC division.

The HP Touchpads were seen as the company’s latest shot into the lucrative tablet wars brewing between heavyweights such as Samsung, Acer, and of course, Apple. The Touchpads went on sale roughly six weeks earlier – only to be unceremoniously discontinued.

The 16GB version had cost about $500, the 32GB version about $600. With the announcement, several vendors dropped the prices almost as early late Friday night to $99 and $150, respectively.

Stores across the internet were flooded with purchase orders thanks to posts on deal sites leading many to quickly run out of stock. Best Buy in Canada had the 16GB version listed online for $99 before it was wiped out. Other vendors, such as those on Amazon, haven’t quite participated in the frenzy yet listing the pads at close to their retail prices at the time of this article.

In the United States, there have also been reports that Best Buy and Office Max are among several chains that would be shipping all of their pads back. The store clerks at my local Best Buy had no idea what was going on. I showed up along with several other people to try and snag one until we were told that, after ratcheting things up to management to confirm the truth of what we were saying, they would be shipped back instead.

However, others have had better luck elsewhere at places such as Wal Mart. Online, sites such as HP’s own store to lesser known ones with an online presence were hit hard, often making it seem as if the store were actually broken. Ebay is already rife with hoarders flipping the ones that they had managed to snag at the new low prices.

It isn’t so much that this is an HP Touchpad that is driving people to it as it is the low price for a decent piece of hardware – hardware that can be made to do anything with the right software. A team is already tweeting that they’re working on porting Google’s Android OS over to the touchpad.

You might have a better chance at snagging a pad next week as HP starts receiving all of the stock that is being shipped back to them – they’re selling the devices at the discounted costs – though who knows? Someone might have forgotten to check that Wal Mart just down the street from you.

HP releases TouchPad tablet

Announced what seems like an eternity ago (but was in reality just back in February), HP finally released its TouchPad tablet today.

It’s the first tablet running the webOS operating system.

Reviews around the Web and elsewhere mostly put it behind the iPad 2 (it shares many of the same specs, although size-wise, it’s more akin to the original iPad), but on a par or slightly ahead of the myriad Android tablet devices.

Many of the reviewers praise the software (which in some areas still appears to be half-baked), but fault the TouchPad’s hardware, dinging it for being a scant 139 grams (not quite 5 ounces) heavier and a mere 4.9 mm (one-fifth of an inch) thicker than the iPad 2.

Reviewers are also knocking the fingerprint-magnet, piano-black plastic back, but how many iPads have you seen that are not in a case?
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HP to introduce new tablet – the TouchPad

Hewlett-Packard will enter the tablet computer market with its new TouchPad product, CNET reports today.

Hewlett-Packard today took the wraps off its long-anticipated tablet, a 9.7-inch device it’s calling the TouchPad, along with the bombshell that its WebOS is headed to PCs.

The TouchPad will run the company’s WebOS, which it acquired along with Palm as part of a $1.2 billion deal in April. Among its list of features are: a 1024×768 pixel display, a weight of 1.5 pounds, 13mm thickness, front-facing cameras for video chat, 16GB or 32GB of built-in memory, support for Adobe’s Flash, Beats by Dre speakers, and a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor.

Initially the TouchPad will be offered as a Wi-Fi only device, though HP said it plans to release a version with 3G/4G mobile connectivity later on down the line.

The Palo Alto-based Hewlett Packard also announced two new smartphones, the HP Pre 3 and smaller HP Veer.

Readers interested in comparison shopping different tablet options may want to check out this PC World article on how the TouchPad, Apple iPad and Motorola Xoom stack up against each other.

Here is the same publication’s review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Am I forgetting anybody?