by Bill Snyder

HP’s TouchPad Ploy: Don’t Buy into It

Nov 02, 20113 mins
Consumer ElectronicsMobileSmall and Medium Business

Everyone loves a bargain, but you should not buy the $150 "bargain priced" HP TouchPad. It's a turkey of a deal.

HP is offering to sell you the last of its stock of TouchPads, a now abandoned product that runs the orphaned WebOS. You can get the 32 GB version for the “bargain” price of $150. But it turns out that this so-called bargain is no bargain at all. It’s just a ploy to clear out some inventory and maybe sell a few expensive PCs. Don’t fall for it.

Here’s the catch: To qualify for the $150 price, you’ve got to buy a new HP PC from Best Buy at the same time. By PC, Best Buy means laptop, desktop or all-in-one. As near as I can tell (Best Buy does not make it easy to figure this one out) the cheapest qualifying machine is a Compaq desktop with an AMD processor, 3GBs of memory and a 500GB hard drive for $319,  which brings the total to around $500 once you add sales tax and shipping. Netbooks, and HP makes some good ones, do not qualify.

The deal is now live on the Best Buy Web site, but if you wait until Friday you’ll be able to avoid the shipping cost by buying at a Best Buy retail outlet  — if they have any in stock.

You may think: “Ah ha, I’ll buy the combo, return the PC and keep the TouchPad.” But Best Buy and HP are on to that trick. If you return the PC, you’ll have to pay the full price of $599 for the TouchPad. Ouch.

Why am I strongly suggesting that you avoid the TouchPad “deal?” Simply put, the tablet and the WebOS are dying. HP is not going to produce more of the tablets, and the fate of WebOS is uncertain, but it will probably disappear as well. Even if WebOS is rescued by someone, it will be very difficulty to attract developers. And that means no new apps. It also means the OS will not be improved.

So your new TouchPad will be obsolete before you get it out of the box. And frankly, the TouchPad wasn’t all that great a buy when it wasn’t an orphan. It’s not even close to Apple’s iPad2 or Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy. There was a reason why HP killed it  — nobody was buying them. It’s not a bad looking device, and it has some strengths, but as our colleagues over at InfoWorld who tested the TouchPad thoroughly put it: “It’s a pokey, limited performer.”

What’s more, HP laptops have been plagued with quality control problems and the company’s support isn’t great. If you want a PC, look elsewhere.

The WebOS and the TouchPad were an absolute debacle for Hewlett Packard, a disaster that contributed to the firing of the company’s CEO, Leo Apotheker. So now HP is trying to salvage a few bucks. There’s no reason to help them.