WebOS Never Ran on iPad 2, HP TouchPad Hardware Vindicated

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About a week ago there were numerous reports on the Internet indicating that WebOS was running twice as fast on an iPad 2 than on the TouchPad. These reports suggested that HP engineers were deeply frustrated by the poor hardware on the TouchPad. So much so that they decided to hack an iPad 2 to run WebOS and supposedly got it to run twice as fast.

Apple insider has confirmed this to be false. The engineers did not run WebOS on an iPad 2. It would be near impossible for them to do so in such a short time. What actually happened was that the developers brought their Enyo software development kit to the iPad 2. The Enyo software is a JavaScript framework that is used to produce web apps capable of running within mobile safari. Both Enyo and a previous version of the development kit allowed developers to use their browsers essentially as a “WebOS emulator” for development purposes. These apps ran faster on the iPad 2 not because of major hardware differences but because of optimizations in Apple’s browser which result in JavaScript running much quicker. The iPad 2 uses the iOS 4.3 Nitro JavaScript engine. Compared to the original iPad it ran JavaScript four times faster. The original iPad’s performance increased as well with the new software. The aforementioned reports were really comparing the speed of Mobile Safari to that of the Web Browser on the TouchPad.

The HP TouchPad actually has fairly decent hardware. It has a Qualcomm dual core processor capable of running at 1.5GHz, 1gb of RAM, IPS display from LG, and a capacitive touchscreen. It’s BOM estimate from isuppli is $318 compared to $326 for the iPad 2. It has been widely spread that HP went cheap on the hardware and that any performance issues were a result of poor hardware. This is not the case. The hardware is comparable to the iPad 2 with the exception of it’s industrial design. The device actually has faster RAM and more of it compared to the iPad 2 which has 512mb. The processor on the iPad 2 is also clocked around 1GHz, though HP’s processor can be clocked at 1.5GHz, HP limited it to 1.2GHz which is still better.

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