HP launches the TouchPad in Australia: has the iPad met its match?

Another new tablet has emerged, with computing giant HP making a play for the top spot with the TouchPad, a slate that brings a new operating system to a market dominated by Apple and Google.

Arriving in August, the TouchPad has several things that remind us of other tablets. Much like the iPad, HP’s tablet features a dual-core processor, 9.7 inch screen with 1024×768 resolution, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

But while some features are shared, others are entirely new and can’t even be found on competing devices running either Android, BlackBerry, or Windows-based tablets.

The most notable on the TouchPad is the operating system: HP webOS 3.

Originally created by Palm, one of the pioneers in mobile computing, the webOS platform has been designed to link services such as Facebook, Google, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Microsoft Exchange, as well as your email, contacts, and calendar in such a way whereby everything is always in sync and easy to find.

“HP’s vision is to seamlessly connect all your worlds through the power of HP webOS,” said Anthony McMahon, vice president of HP webOS for Asia Pacific.

The tablet doesn’t just like the cloud; it also has been designed to work with the web, supporting both HTML 5 and websites with Flash elements.

Multitasking is also a big deal, with simple swiping gestures put in place to allow you to jump to and from programs easily. HP has also included support for Beats Audio, an audio technology seen on laptops and headphones that aims to provide a sound closer to what the musician intended.

Other features of the TouchPad include the ability to keep multiple emails open at once, support for HP’s ePrint technology, a front facing 1.3 megapixel camera with Skype video calling, and support for inductive charging by way of the HP TouchStone (available separately for $89).

Of course, webOS is a new operating system, which means there are fewer apps available upon launch. Sadly, you cannot run apps purchased on any other platform with this device, meaning your purchases on Android, iOS, and BlackBerry aren’t good here. However, we’ve been told that there are 8000 apps available on the webOS tablet, with 300 of those optimised specifically for the TouchPad.

Much like the TouchPad, the HP Veer smartphone uses webOS. While not currently available in Australia, HP has said that an Australian release is a possibility.

We can’t say for sure if the iPad has met its match in the TouchPad, but HP seems intent on pushing some serious muscle behind the webOS platform, with new smartphones and printers running the operating system possibly arriving later this year.

Meanwhile, the TouchPad is set to arrive in stores from August 15, priced from $599 for 16GB and $699 for 32GB.