The HP TouchPad webOS 3.0.2 Update: Steps in the Right Direction

After testing out the HP’s webOS 3.0.2 update for the TouchPad, I can say that HP has taken some steps in the right direction for its first webOS Tablet. There are improvements that are easily noted, most notably in terms of speed and how the screen responds to the touch controls.

In my usage, I would say that the speed of my TouchPad has increased by roughly 30% across the board. Touching the screen and getting a response is not at an iPad 2 level, but if you’ve never played around with an iPad you’ll feel pretty good about how the updated TouchPad responds to your touch.

The areas that I was seeing the most lag included switching between apps, launching apps, and dragging items across the screen. I’m seeing improvements across the board here, but not completely. Switching between apps is where I see the most improvement. Launching an app now is snappy enough that you don’t feel like your touch didn’t register resulting in continual pressing on the screen. Improvement in dragging items across the screen is most easily seen by playing solitaire. Prior to the update this was an unplayable experience as cards never seemed to follow you finger. That action has been fixed by the update. There are a few times where I still see some lag between button press and action, most notably pressing the back button in the HP Catalog, HP’s version of an App Store, but these are fewer and farther between.

I also complained about errant key presses using the virtual keyboard, and this problem seems to have been addressed satisfactorily. After doing quite a bit of key tapping I couldn’t really replicate the issues I was having before. I’m also happy to say that the software running the accelerometer seems to have been tuned a bit better as screen orientation switching does not seem so erratic.

These improvements obviously raise the question as to why HP launched a month ago, instead of waiting to tune things for better performance. I realize that there was considerable pressure to get the TouchPad to market, but I’m guessing that a good many of the negative reviews would have been different had HP waited. But then, that’s history.

As for now, in my Tablet testing, I’ll say that between the iPad 2, the TouchPad and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the TouchPad is more firmly in second place. Again, if the TouchPad will be your first Tablet experience, most of the comparisons will have no meaning. HP has gotten closer to creating a good user experience. It still has some ways to go, but then you can say the same for any version 1 product.

Side Note: James Kendrick has an interesting post about using PreWare and Homebrew patches for the HP TouchPad. He notes that he’s overclocked his system and is seeing a very good experience.

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