Although the HP TouchPad is supposed to launch at the beginning of next month, units have already arrived at Best Buy and Walmart. They don't appear to be on sale yet (though you can preorder), but HP is instead trying to build hype by giving the retail stores demo units early, according to PreCentral.

If you've been trying to figure out whether or not you want to buy HP's first webOS tablet, this deal is for you. If you know you want webOS, this still lets you figure out if the size is right or not. There's already a rumor that HP is planning a 7-inch webOS tablet for as soon as August 2011.

This seems like a good idea to build hype, but we're not sure if HP should have let the devices out early. The strategy seems to deter one thing that is quite crucial to the sale of tablets: impulse buying. Here's a video of the device in a Walmart store, courtesy of a YouTube user that goes by the name of rbrown530:

The HP TouchPad is a 9.7-inch slate (1024 x 768 resolution), powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 processor, 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage, 1GB of RAM, HP's Beats audio, a micro-USB 2.0 port, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a front-mounted 1.3MP camera, as well as a light sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, and GPS (3G model only). It measures 242 x 190 x 13.7mm and weighs around 740g. The device is running a WebOS 3.0 with true multitasking, Flash 10.1, a paneled e-mail application, a pop-up notification system like Growl, Skype support, wireless printing, calendar and e-mail integration via HP Synergy, as well as compatibility with Amazon's Kindle ebook store, Google Docs, QuickOffice, and more.

Optional accessories (sold separately) for the HP TouchPad include the HP Touchstone Charging Dock, the HP TouchPad Wireless Keyboard, and the HP TouchPad Case. These are expected to be priced at $80, $70, and $50, respectively.

Preorders for the Wi-Fi version of the HP TouchPad in North America and Europe have already begun, and that the US release date is slated for July 1, 2011. The device will be available from US retailers, commercial resellers, and direct from HP with the option of either 16GB ($500.00) or 32GB ($600.00) of internal storage. HP's first webOS tablet will be available in the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany a few days later and in Canada in mid-July, with availability scheduled to follow later this year in Italy and Spain, as well as in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore.