HP decided that their big webOS unveiling should not take place at the International Consumer Electronics Show 2011, but instead at a separate event a month later. That event just ended in an old military building at Fort Mason in California and it was everything we had hoped for and more.
We'll start with the bad news - Palm is dead. In a giant room full of brightly colored posters and screens, nothing was marked with the Palm logo. In all of the announcements, only the HP logo was to be seen. Now, while this is not a surprise, it is a disappointment. Palm is the company that started handheld computing and the loss of the brand is a loss for the industry.
Moving on to the positive, we were pleased to see 3 great new devices. The first and simplest is the HP Veer. This handset is designed to be the replacement for the Palm Pixi without and of the design flaws of its sister phone. Measuring at only 3.25 inches tall and weighing in at 3.63 ounces, this will be the perfect smartphone for people who do not want a full smartphone.
While the Veer is small, it is still mighty. With an 800Mhz Qualcomm processor, 8GM of storage, integrated Touchstone capability and 5MP camera, there is little the device won't be able to do, except weigh you down, of course. And it is all packed into a miniature version of the Palm Pre Plus form.
For details on the other 2 new devices, hit the break.
Next, the device that will probably upset Verizon Wireless the day before the launch of the Pre 2 on their network - the HP Pre 3. A bigger screen than previous handsets in the Pre family (3.58-inch multitouch) and the fastest single-core processor in a handset (Qualcomm MSM 8x55 @ 1.4 GHz), this is truly the revolutionary successor to the original.
In addition to the 5MP camera, there is also the addition of 720p HD and a VGA front-facing camera, assumably for Skype or Qik. The phone also has dual microphones for internal noise cancellation, allowing for this feature without the need for Bluetooth. Yes, that even includes on speakerphone. It will come in CDMA and GSM versions, 8GB and 16GB.
Last, but certainly not least, is the newest webOS form factor, the much anticipated HP TouchPad. This marks the first time webOS has left the small screen and entered the large. While the operating system has been modified for 9.7-inch XGA multitouch screen, it still maintains all of the features we love. This will also be the first time webOS makes it onto a full-touch device.
The virtual keyboard has actually been thought out on this device, unlike some others we have seen seemingly slapped together. In addition to having a dedicated number row, like a real keyboard, it is also sizable. If you are comfortable with the keyboard taking up half the screen, it can. If you prefer smaller keys, you can do that too. In fact, there are 3 different sizes of keyboard available.
The TouchPad will also be Touchstone compatible, like all other "Palm" devices, but the really cool feature is the integration of Beats Audio. This is where the HP-Palm merger really starts to shine. Beats Audio has been integrated into many HP devices since their partnership began, and this is the first time we will see it integrated into a truly-portable device like the TouchPad. As would be expected, there will be a WiFi version this summer followed by "3G/4G devices" soon after.
HP has made it very clear that this is just the beginning of their webOS love-affair. Later in the year we will hear details about webOS-powered computers, as well. 2011 is certainly going to be a big year for the former Palm brand.