reviews the latest iPad competitor -- the HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad review's Derek Kessler, who's rapidly become one of my favorite voices in mobile, has just released the his HP TouchPad review. Widely anticipated due to its super smart, incredibly elegant webOS 3.0 operating system, but uncertain due to Palm's recent history of middling hardware and tepid launches, it's been simultaneously heralded as the first real iPad competitor and decried as a me-too device, both before it even hit the shelves. Which is it?

If you already have an iPad that you’re satisfied with or think you’d be better served by an iPad, you probably shouldn’t get a TouchPad. But if you’re looking for a multi-tasking monster with fantastic web browsing, email, a growing app store, and oodles of potential, then you might want to consider the TouchPad.

As expected, the are issues with the software -- it's version one of webOS on tablets after all -- and in the sheer quantity of apps available. Time, patches, and the phenomenal webOS developer community can fix all that. Issues with the hardware were also to be expected -- Palm has struggled with that for a while -- and there's really no fixing those, just hopes TouchPad 2 gets it better. As to whether or not they "copied" iPad with the form factor, frankly they'd have been stupid not to. The Palm Pre Plus was essentially an iPhone 3GS and that made for easy game porting via the webOS PDK. If HP can get iPad games ported over just as easily, it's worth any amount of teasing over the spec similarity.

No matter which way you slice it, the HP TouchPad is a contender for second place now in the tablet market, and that's going to be the first great battle to win, and an important step in proving there's a market for these things beyond the iPad.

HP has all the pieces in place, they just have the nail the execution. And soon. (Or, like RIM, preferably prior to launch.)

Check out Derek's review and then come back and let us know what you think -- is the HP TouchPad the best contender to date?