HP today held a press event to show the fruits of its webOS labors. The company acquired smartphone OEM Palm last year and has apparently been very busy since then, as HP today unveiled two new webOS-based smartphones and a tablet.
Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president and general manager of Palm, was on hand to introduce the new products, which were unveiled in the complete absence of the Palm name. Nevertheless, today’s smartphones and the TouchPad didn’t stray too far from the company’s legacy slide form factor.
HP introduced the HP Veer, a smaller form factor mid-range smartphone. About the size of a credit card, the Veer is the first phone to employ Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7230 processor. The Veer is HSPA+ compatible and features 8GB storage, and 512 MB of RAM.
The HP Pre3 also got outed today. The Pre3 is the successor to the Pre 2, which goes on sale tomorrow on Verizon Wireless. The Pre3 features a 5-megapixel camera and 1.3 megapixel forward-facing camera, 3.6-inch 800 x 480 display, full touchscreen plus hardware keyboard and 1.4 GHz Qualcomm processor. HP will release two versions of the Pre3, an HSPA+ and EVDO Rev A world phone, with 8GB or 16GB of memory.
The long-awaited HP TouchPad tablet also dropped today. The 9.7-inch tablet looks a lot like Apple’s iPad, but may have a leg up in more than one department, including a front-facing camera and a dual-core processor. The TouchPad features video calling, an advanced audio system by Beats, 16GB or 32GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, dual core 1.2GHz CPU and front-facing 1.3MP camera.
While the company managed to produce some impressive hardware, it also demonstrated a sophisticated system by which its devices communicate, emphasizing heavy reliance on cloud-based services. HP’s touchstone docking system allows the TouchPad and smartphones to communicate. But the devices themselves can also interact. The new smartphones can actually pick up where the browser on the TouchPad left off simply by touching the two devices together.
“This work is precisely the place we’re focusing on delivering value. By seamlessly connecting that content and those devices,” said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of personal systems for HP, according to a live blog posted on Engadget.
Save for the webOS platform and remaining stock of Palm-branded Pre devices, the company that brought us the original PDA is gone, replaced by the HP name. Rubinstein expressed his enthusiasm for the direction the company is headed.
“You look at these products… they’re proof that the future is wide open when it comes to growth and opportunities in the mobile space. We’re very happy that HP chose us for this first wave of HP webOS devices. When you have the scale of HP, you can work with anyone – and they chose to work with us,” Rubinstein said.
Comments made after the device unveilings seemed to hint that HP wants to bring webOS to PCs and other connected devices. The company’s new slogan is “Everybody On,” referring to its belief in the cloud to connect devices.
Ross Rubin, NPD Group’s executive director of industry analysis, called the new devices a “solid” showing. Rubin said the riskiest of the devices was the Veer, which follows a little too closely in the Pixi’s footsteps.
“The Pre 3 looks like a nice evolution with a powerful processor, larger screen, while it’s not quite as large as a Galaxy S or some of the new Droid devices, it’s up there with the iPhone and seems to be large enough to accommodate most Web content that consumers are looking at on a smarpthone today,” Rubin said.
Rubin thinks HP’s TouchPad is clearly positioned to go head-to-head with Apple’s iPad but said a summer launch is a risk for HP.
“It’s always difficult to follows Apple’s act. It’s difficult to know what Apple will announce, but it would seem natural that they would have a front-facing camera,” Rubin said.
When asked whether it was possible HP would bring WebOS to PCs in the future, Rubin mentioned two ways the company might do that. “They ship a quick-boot environment right now…they could conceivably replace that with WebOS, or they could layer WebOS on top of Windows. In that case, perhaps WebOS becomes more of a widget-like environment,” he said.
The Veer smartphone will debut in early spring, and the other devices announced today will be available this summer. HP refrained from issuing any pricing information.