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HP TouchPad Arrives July 1, Starts at $499. You Ready to Buy?

HP set off a few pre-Independence Day fireworks for webOS fans thanks to the announcement that the Wi-Fi edition of HP TouchPad will be hitting stores July 1; pre-orders beginning June 19. The tablet will be available in two flavors, the $499 16GB and the $599 32GB versions.

The 9.7-inch TouchPad is the first tablet to run webOS and sports a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, Bluetooth, and a 1.3-megapixel camera. Other notable features include Beats Audio and Touch to Share, an HP-exclusive technology that allows webOS device owners to share web addresses by touch. Consumers interested in a carrier-supported TouchPad will have to wait until later this summer when AT&T releases its 3G model.

The arrival of a new tablet always stirs up notions of a potential iPad killer. While HP should be able to carve out a decent piece of the tablet pie, it’s too early to say whether it can topple Apple. HP has a few things in its favor, namely its large presence in big chain stores such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart. And while we have scores of Android tablets, we’ve yet to see one that has gained any lasting traction with consumers. Lastly, there are consumers out there that aren’t totally gung-ho about the two dominant operating systems and want another choice.

According to the press release, HP’s senior vice president and general manager of the Palm Global Business Unit, Jon Rubinstein, is betting that webOS is the alternative consumers have been waiting for. "The platform’s unmatched features and flexibility will continue to differentiate HP products from the rest of the market for both personal and professional use. This is only the beginning of what HP’s scale can do with webOS."

OS and processors aside, if HP wants to make a splash with the TouchPad, they should aim for the wallet. If the tablet was $100 cheaper than the iPad 2 a few months out the gate, it would give people more incentive to purchase. Matching Apple on price point is not the way to enter an increasingly crowded market. So, as it is, are you ready to buy the TouchPad?

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