HP first officially launched its tablet, the TouchPad, in February and now, after four-months, the 9.7-inch tablet which runs on webOS juice will be available from July 1.

TouchPad is the fruit of HP's $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010. Since then HP has been polishing a line-up of devices which can grant webOS perfect expression, a task which Palm failed to do with its inferior hardware.

However, HP has taken a long time to release its tablet since the initial announcement in February. While HP was musing over a perfect time to put its tablet on the shelf, Apple and Samsung have stolen the thunder from HP.

TouchPad's four month gestation period has resulted in new developments. HP failed to take cue from Samsung, the Korean electronics maker, which had also officially announced its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in February. However, when Apple launched its thinner and lighter version of iPad, the iPad 2, Samsung delayed the launch of Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung's vice president Lee Don-joo, speaking about Apple's iPad 2, had said: Apple made it very thin. What followed was an ultra-thin tablet from Samsung to even beat Apple iPad 2's thinness factor.

In the light of the new development, Apple slapped a patent lawsuit on Samsung charging it of slavishly copying its design.

HP failed to get the drift and, thus, the TouchPad still maintains gigantic proportions weighing 1.6 pounds with 0.54-inch thickness. Apple's iPad 2 weighs 1.33 pounds and is 0.34-inch thick. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 beats this as it is 0.33-inch thick and weighs 1.31 pounds. HP TouchPad is more in the league of Motorola Xoom which weighs 1.6 pounds and is about 0.51-inch thick.

HP, however, did follow Apple's footsteps in that it offers the same display size and screen resolution as iPad. TouchPad sports a 9.7-inch display with 1024x768 screen resolution.

The tablet from HP stable also sports a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm chip which matches iPad 2's dual-core A5 chipsets and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1's dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor. However, unlike Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2 which offer rear-facing and front-facing cameras, the TouchPad sports a single 1.3MP front-facing camera for video chat.

HP TouchPad comes in 16/32 GB internal memory configuration with 1GB RAM while Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2 come in 16/32/64 GB configuration. Galaxy Tab 10.1 offers 1GB RAM while Apple has not revealed the RAM specification for its iPad 2.

HP claims that the TouchPad offers 10 hours battery life which is similar to iPad 2's 10 hours. Galaxy Tab 10.1 offers 9 hours of battery life.

TouchPad is also priced competitively at $499 for 16GB model and $599 for 32GB which is the same as Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and iPad 2 Wi-Fi model pricing.

It is touted that HP TouchPad with webOS could have become the third tablet of choice after iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1. Earlier, RIM's PlayBook with a new QNX OS was expected to spawn a new movement which would have given birth to a third popular ecosystem. HP also is in queue with webOS as a potential platform which can garner an ecosystem of devices and apps.

However, webOS for TouchPad has about 300 optimized apps and 6,200 apps for phones. Apple iPad 2 has about 100,000 apps and about 425,000 apps for iOS as a whole and Android boasts about 200,000 apps but apps optimized specifically for Honeycomb tablets merely run into hundreds.

HP TouchPad is well integrated with its Palm Pre 3 device. It has a feature called touch-to-share whereby merely a user can merely bump a Palm Pre 3 with TouchPad to share URLs, documents or songs.

HP's webOS 3.0 offers its card-based navigation feature which opens each app as a card which then joins a stack of cards. A user can, thus, just move the cards to shuffle between various apps or close an app by merely pushing it aside.

However, the TouchPad is not as fast as Apple iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It takes about 1:15 seconds to bootup while iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 boot-up in 30 seconds, says Engadget. Also TouchPad lacks HD video capture and its novel Just Type and stacks-based navigation feature has not been well-optimized by developers. Here is a video: