First reviews of Hewlett-Packard’s webOS-driven TouchPad tablet are trickling in and they don’t bode well for the device, even though many reviewers concluded that the TouchPad is a fine first-generation tablet that will only get better over time, helped in no small part by HP’s backing and them actively seeking to license the webOS operating system to third-parties.

The TouchPad has the same 9.7-inch display with a 1024-by-768 pixel resolution as the iPad and the two sport nearly identical dimensions. HP’s slab, however, doesn’t match Apple’s device on thinness: Measuring 13.7mm in profile versus iPad’s 8.8mm, it is much closer to the original iPad. The TouchPad is also bulkier: Weighing in at 740 grams, it is heavier than the original iPad, let alone compared to iPad 2 (601 gram). Its glossy back made from black plastic akin to the iPhone 3GS is a magnet for smudges and fingerprints, the reviewers agree.

The TouchPad runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core 1.2GHz processor, it has 1GB of RAM and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls. HP matched Apple on pricing, too: The TouchPad costs $499/$599 for the 16GB/32GB version. HP is sweetening the deal for early adopters with a $50 mail-in rebate available for webOS smartphone owners who purchase the tablet before July 31 And now the bad news…

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The device lacks back camera, a negative for most reviewers. Surprisingly, webOS has no dedicated apps for taking stills or capturing video, rendering the front camera pretty much useless for anything but video calls. Existing webOS apps for smartphones cannot be blown up to the TouchPad’s 9.7-inch display like with iPad, it has only 300 tablet-optimized apps and the card interface can quickly lead to the multitasking clutter, although webOS 3.0 has been praised as one of the best mobile operating systems around that in some areas out-innovates Android and iOS. Ars called Flash video performance “crippling and unacceptable” and noted that “the way opening apps and cards integrate can quickly create a mess on the homescreen”. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg criticized the scarce selection of apps, while his New York Times colleague David Pogue wrote in his review that the TouchPad is late for the ball so it “doesn’t come close to being as complete or mature as the iPad or the best Android tablets”. Joshua Topolsky was impressed by its “outstanding” battery life, but Walt Mossberg said it fell four hours behind iPad. Engadget concludes by saying that the TouchPad “fails to live up to one’s expectations” due to the bulkiness and performance issues.

Check out the reviews here and Walt Mossberg’s impressions right below:

Ars Technica • CNET • Engadget • Laptop Magazine • PreCentral • SlashGear • The New York Times • The Wall Street Journal • This is my next… • Macworld • Gizmodo

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