Hewlett Packard today showed off their WebOS based TouchPad tablets to a small press audience over lunch in Auckland today (following recent press events across the Asia Pacific region). Today was all about the TouchPad tablet but it was noticeable that a number of the HP team were carrying WebOS based smartphone handsets too.

It’s been some 17-months since HP’s acquisition of Palm and it’s WebOS operating system were announced. Initial Wi-Fi based TouchPad tablets launched in the U.S. on 1 July. The announcement today was that the TouchPad is making its way to the Asia Pacific market starting in August. Initial availability in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore will begin 12 August 2011. Prices are NZ$799 (16GB) and NZ$949 (32GB) in New Zealand. This compares with US pricing of US$499 and US$599 – though US prices exclude sales tax.

Roland Ng (HP Asia-Pacific and Japan director of WebOS) and the team from HP did a solid job of highlighting the differentiators of WebOS as a platform – specifically integrated Inbox/Calendar/Contacts with on/off features (called HP Synergy), Touchstone wireless charging, the Beats Audio branded speaker/audio playback hardware/software combination and Just Type which will be a time saver for some. Full multitasking and Flash capabilities were highlighted too.

In discussing WebOS and the TouchPad, Roland Ng highlighted HP’s experience in both enterprise and consumer markets. He is confident that WebOS and the TouchPad are a great fit for everyone – and commented that most users cover both in their daily life.

Coming up soon in the U.S. market will be a 4G based TouchPad device (for the AT&T network) – and no doubt 3G offerings will come in the future both in the U.S. and internationally. We also anticipate that WebOS based smartphones will start becoming available in other countries in the future – however HP have made no such announcements yet.

I personally enjoyed the experience of using the TouchPad when I tested one in the U.S. recently, and after spending more time with it today I have to say that it’s slick – and something that if I owned one it might just replace my iPad. Time will tell once I’ve spent a little more time using the device.

If you’d like to hear more on the subject of WebOS and the HP TouchPad it has been discussed on a number of recent NZ Tech Podcast episodes and an interview with a member of the Palm Global Business Unit at HP will feature in an upcoming episode.