When PC giant Hewlett-Packard spent $1.2 billion to buy Palm Inc. in July 2010, everyone was wondering what HP would do with Palm's critically-acclaimed operating system WebOS.

The answer is HP Touchpad, which is powered by the WebOS 3.0 operating system.

The WebOS operating system was very much appreciated for its ease of use, multitasking functions and open architecture, but was overshadowed by Palm's hardware features.

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What makes HP TouchPad a compelling alternative to competing products is WebOS, said Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president and general manager, Palm Global Business Unit, HP. 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.

So, a neat operating system along with HP hardware makes Touchpad a good competitor in the tablet space.

HP's Touchpad, which is launching on July 1, will be competing wih Apple's iPad 2 - the market leader that is known for giving users a complete ecosystem.

Others in the competition include a flurry of Android devices, mainly Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

TouchPad, which boasts a 9.7-inch screen, is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The device supports proximity-based sharing, allowing compatible devices to wirelessly exchange data, media, and information, via Bluetooth.

The device provides premium audio playback with stereo speakers and Beats Audio technology. It has the Just Type feature to find information on the device or in the cloud and offers integrated access to their information with HP Synergy. Meanwhile, HP's exclusive Touch to Share capability allows users to share Web addresses between HP TouchPad and compatible webOS phones.

Recently, HP announced HP webOS Pivot, providing users an entertaining and informative editorial resource for discovering webOS 3.0 applications for the HP TouchPad.

The Touchpad currently comes only with Wi-Fi, costing $499.99 for a 16GB model and $599.99 for a 32GB model. But, the company said it will be partnering with AT&T later this summer to launch a connected version of the tablet.

iPad 2

iPad 2 is the second generation of the iPad, a tablet computer designed, developed and marketed by Apple Inc.

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iPad 2 has a lithium-ion polymer battery that lasts up to 10 hours, a new dual core Apple A5 processor and VGA front-facing and 720p rear-facing cameras designed for FaceTime video calling.

The tablet, which runs on iOS 4.3.3, is 15 percent lighter and 33 percent thinner than its predecessor.

Apple unveiled the device on March 2, 2011, began selling it by website and retail stores on March 11, and released it in 25 other countries on March 25, including Australia, Britain and Canada.

iPad is one of the best-selling gadgets and Apple recently announced it sold more than 25 million devices since iPad was launched in April 2010. In 2011, iPad is expected to take 83 percent of the tablet computing market share in the United States.

Wi-Fi models of iPad 2 starts at $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB. Adding 3G costs $130 extra per model, so the most expensive model (64GB / 3G) is $829.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, running Google's Honeycomb software (Android 3.1), belongs to the next generation of the Samsung Galaxy Tab series, which consists of the 10.1 model and the 8.9 model.

The device is touted as a direct competitor to iPad 2.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, like iPad 2, comes with 16/32/64 GB configuration. The device offers 1GB RAM and 9 hours of battery life.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 sports a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and weighs only 1.24 pounds.

Let's see the comparison of the three devices:

Now, let's make a head-to-head comparison of the two products:

Specifications

HP Touchpad

Apple iPad 2

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Color

Black

White, Black

Black

Operating System

HP WebOS 3.0

iOS 4.3.3

Android -Honeycomb

Display

9.7-inch XGA capacitive, multitouch screen, 1024x768 resolution

9.7 inches LED display, 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)

10.1 inches

1280x800 WXGA TFT LCD screen at 149 ppi with 4-way rotation

Dimensions

Width:  7.48 inches

Height:  9.45 inches

Width: 7.31 inches

Height: 9.5 inches

Width: 6.9 inches

Height: 10.1 inch

Weight

1.6 pounds

1.33 pounds

1.24 pounds

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-CPU APQ8060 1.2GHz

Apple A5 processor; 1GHz dual-core

Nvidia Tegra2 Dual-core processor, 1 GHz

Camera

Front-facing 1.3-megapixel webcam for live video calling

Back camera: Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; still camera with 5x digital zoom

Front camera: Video recording, VGA up to 30 frames per second with audio; VGA-quality still camera

Back Camera: 720p HD, video recording

3MP autofocus camera with LED flash

Front Camera: 2MP

Sensors

Light sensor, accelerometer, compass (magnetometer), and gyroscope

Three-axis gyro

Accelerometer

Ambient light sensor

Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, compass

Media Formats Supported

Audio formats: DRM-free MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, QCELP, WAV

Video formats: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264

Audio formats supported: HE-AAC (V1 and V2), AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV

Video formats supported: H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second;

MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second;

Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second (fps)

Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, RA

Video Formats: Full HD video playback (1080p) @30fps

Video Codec: WMV9, WMV7, WMV8, H.264, MPEG4, Xvid, DivX, H.263, VP8

Wireless Connectivity

Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n with WPA, WPA2, WEP, 802.1X authentication;

Bluetooth wireless technology 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo Bluetooth support

Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Technology

HSPA +21 850/900/1900/2100

EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900

Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Dual-band support (2.4GHZ, 5GHz)

Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi direct

Memory

16GB or 32GB

16GB, 32GB or 64GB

16GB, 32GB or 64GB; 1GB RAM

Battery

Rechargeable 6300 mAh (typical battery) 

Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery

Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music; Up to 9 hours surfing on 3G network

Built-in 7000mAh battery

Video: up to 9 hours

Music: up to 72 hours

Ports

Connector Charger/microUSB connector with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed;

Headphone jack 3.5mm stereo headset/headphone/microphone jack

30-pin dock connector port

3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack;

Built-in speaker;

Microphone;

Micro-SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model)