You may recall my HP TouchPad review published at the beginning of July. The device in question — the computer-maker's competition to the iPad and Android tablets — came off as a promising (if buggy) choice for consumers. My complaints centered around the fact that the TouchPad seemed to be sporting an unfinished version of its operating system, one that with just a little more time in the oven may have made it seem like a real competitor (and likely would have warranted a higher score). I wasn't alone; the majority of reviews published shared this sentiment. Even Palm head Jon Rubinstein seemed cognizant of the issues, promising a major over-the-air update by the end of the month.

Just following the review (and exec shakeup at HP), I had a chance to talk with Jon and new webOS lead Stephen DeWitt about the product and its future, and was assured that the promised update would solve many of the issues I experienced (laggy touch response, unpredictable rotation, random reboots, a nearly unusable keyboard). So, has it? In a word: yes.

The TouchPad post the 3.0.2 update feels much more like the device it was supposed to be. Snappy, tight, sure of itself. When you press the screen or scroll a list (particularly in the mail application, which has been improved) you get what you expect. The keyboard changes may be the most significant here — the onscreen keyboard is not only improved over the previous version, but so accurate that it may just be my favorite tablet keyboard yet. The auto-correction and predictive text input is excellent.

HP has added a couple of missing apps back into the fold — the clock and calculator. They're nothing special, but a nice inclusion (the clock is particularly useful when running in the background in an open card). The company has also improved the speed of its search results for calendar entries, and fixed an annoying issue where the screen would rotate just when you didn't want it to.

So, while this is great news for current and future TouchPad owners, the whole situation begs the question: why didn't HP just wait a month on this thing? What was the rush to bring an unfinished product to market? Why suffer the bad reviews and initial customer disappointment? Were there retailer pressures here or some other situation we're not aware of, or was HP simply so hot to trot on getting this product to market that they sabotaged its launch? We may never know, but at least the company seems to be getting back on the right track.