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Jim's HP Touchpad Review

(Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2012)

Who am I?)

    Personal Note - why I created this page

    HP-TouchpadOK, I went and did it - I bought the HP Touchpad during the firesale. I had already tried a refurbished IPad I ($350 through AT&T) and a new IPad 2 through Best Buy ($530 with tax). I returned them because for the money they did not seem to be worth it to me. I know the HP Touchpad will have limited apps and have a limited life span (no support at all past warranty period), but since all such technology has the life span of ripe bananas... This web page will document my experience with it and give resources to help you improve your own experience with the Touchpad, should you own one.

    I discovered today (Tuesday, October 18, 2011) one of the very best features of the HP TP - it automatically (and securely) backs up your personal data and apps (HP Appstore apps, not independently installed ones) to the HP cloud servers which you can then restore to additional HP Touchpads! You can force this backup (something I had not noticed) by using the Backup app (under the Settings category). This in addition to the free 50 GB Box.net account make it an even more useful device, for those alas who were lucky/diligent/desperate enough to get one before they were discontinued!

    WebOS Firmware Updates
  • NewA firmware update (version 3.0.5) - you can get it by checking Settings/System Updates. Sooner or later you will be prompted to install it (when you are connected to WiFI of course). It does break all Homebrew modifications (patches) but does not remove either Homebrew (Preware) itself or any Homebrew apps installed (they still work as before). Homebrew patched-patches for 3.05 are being added by and by.
    Overview of HP Touchpad Features
  • Spec sheet for HP TouchPad Wi-Fi 32GB (PDF)
  • Screen type: 9.7 in, 1024 × 768 px, 18-bit color, TFT LCD with IPS, LED-backlit (same as the IPad)
  • Display orientation: supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer (has orientation lock).
  • Sensors: Light sensor, accelerometer, compass (magnetometer), and gyroscope (no GPS)
  • Size: 9.45 x 7.48 x 0.54 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb 10 oz (740 g) (23% heavier than iPad 2 and even heavier the original Ipad 1lb 8ozs - 680 g).
  • Operating system: WebOS 3
  • Battery life: 8 hours of web browsing (Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable. 6300 mAh.)
  • CPU/RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 dual core 1.2 GHz CPU with Adreno 220 graphics. 1 gig RAM. 16 and 32 gig models available.
  • Camera: 1.3MP front-facing video camera that works with Skype.
  • Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Has Beats Audio.
  • Multimedia Formats Supported [out-of-the-box]: video: MPEG4, H.263 and H.264. Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, QCELP and WAV without DRM.
    Buying/Installing KalemSoft Media Player/Streamer covers practically everything else.
  • Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n (dual band) and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo.
  • Expansion: None. MicroUSB port for file transfers with computers (supports mass storage mode)
  • Free 50Gb Cloud Memory
    The HP Touchpad Browsing Experience
  • Using the stock (built-in) browser was for me a very uneven experience. It seemed to render many/most pages very well, but those that used elaborate Javascript floating menus and special effects were a pain to navigate. Text input using the virtual was very easy (especially since you can resize the keyboard by holding down the keyboard key in the right hand corner and selecting from S)mall, M)edim, L)arge, XL)arge) displays of the keyboard). Copy and paste (which I use a lot) are also somewhat frustrating - copying by tap and hold on a word highlights the word and little triangles appear at the beginning and end of the word allowing you to expand or contract the selected text). You then can tap a COPY balloon icon and you are notified in the notifiation area in the upper right next to the settings area that the selection was copied (to a clipboard, like Windows). The problem comes in trying to paste. If you are pasting into another text box in a form the PASTE icon appears and disappears before you can tap it. I have spent 20 minutes or more in trying to get the text pasted and should have just given up and re-typed the text - however I am very stubborn and assumed I was doing something wrong - perhaps I was but I haven't discovered what it was as yet. [Update: version 3.04 firmware fixes the copy/paste problem - much easier to do now.] The pinch/reverse-pinch zoom, swipe down and up the page work well, except you have to be careful where you begin your swipe - you could very well end up opening a new card (window) to an unintended web site! Flash and YouTube worked without a hitch and the video was smooth.
    The HP Touchpad Email Experience
  • My experience with the built-in omnibus email client has been very positive. You can specifiy multiple accounts and they are all checked and displayed in triptych display panel, with the panels allowed to be resized (the leftmost panel contains all the accounts/folders in collapsible menus, the second/middle panel contains the list of emails, and the third displays a selected email). You can slide the panels so that the first and second are hidden and only either the list of emails and selected email, or just the selected email are displayed. You can of course delete email by swipping and tapping the confirming delete button, reply to or forward emails. All in all a very well done app. The triptych panel design is a very common design for hierarchical information in WebOS apps.
    Here is the new case/cover I ordered for my Touchpad:
  • Acase Leather Case Folio with built-in Stand for HP TouchPad
    Although more expensive than the cheapest case/covers I have chosen this one as it fits nicely, has a built-in stand (landscape only), and imporantly exposes the bezel so that the important swipe up gesture is easy to execute. Cases made for the Ipad (original) might fit but, since the swipe up from bezel gesture is not used on the Ipad, the bezel is often covered in such cases.
    EReader Apps for Touchpad
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader comes preinstalled: Allows you to read PDFs.
  • Homebrew PDF Reader patch- Adds Goto Field, Bookmarks, Resolution Selector, and More (requires Homebrew Preware install).
  • Kindle for WebOS: Allows you to Kindle books, of course. You must install this from the HP App Catalog. You can import non-Kindle mobi files using the Kindle Import app available in the Preware catalog
  • pReader: Available from the HP App Catalog
      Reads plain-text (txt), HTML and compressed & uncompressed Palm DOC (PDB/PRC) files directly off the media partition. Decompression is handled on-the-fly.
      Reads eReader PDB/PRC files. DRM support is fully implemented
      Reads MobiPocket files. DRM support is fully implemented. Please note that only books are supported at the moment, things like dictionaries currently don't work.
      Reads unencrypted ePub files.
      Reads unencrypted Amazon Whispernet AZW files
  • pReader Native Alpha: Available from the Homebrew Catalog
    "In a nutshell: If you want reliability, use the pReader found in the App Catalog. If you want to live on the bleeding edge of development, use this version. Or you can simply install both, since both versions can coexist peacefully on the same device and will use different book libraries."
    Some Recommended HP Touchpad Multimedia Apps (paid, but cheap)
    If you wish to stream Netflix (or a video source from your home PC) to your Touchpad you must know that there is no Netflix app for WebOS, nor is there likely to ever be. Of course, under Android (assuming you install the CyanogenMod dual-boot), there are multiple free apps for video streaming, including Netflix. But here is a great option that I have personally tested:
  • Splashtop for Touchpad - available in the HP App Catalog on the Touchpad. New
    You will need to install the Download Splashtop Streamer (free) on your desktop - then you can control any program on your desktop - including your Netfix! The video stream is quite good - as good or better than the Kindle Fire, for example, streaming from Amazon Prime Video - EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AT HOME! I can personally vouch for this, it is an incredibly good program that if purchased once can be used on multiple Touchpads. And the Windows version of the client is free!
  • KalemSoft Media Player/Streamer: KalemSoft Media Player for TouchPad and KalemSoft Media Streamer for Windows - use these in combination to stream music/audiobooks/video from your desktop computer. The Media Streamer is free, the player is a demo version which is upgradeable to the full version (that works with the Media Streamer) for $5 - an extremely good product for the price. This is the only product for the Touchpad under WebOS I know that currently plays AVI files. As a matter of fact it has played all the media formats I have tried with it - mp3, mkv, etc. The only downside it the requirement that you must purchase a new license for every device you want to use! (Unlike Android) BOOOOOO!
    Android on HP Touchpad
  • How to install Android / CyanogenMod on HP TouchPad:
    These are detailed instructions on how to install the current (Alpha 3) release of the CyanogenMod version of Android for the Touchpad (based on Gingerbread Android 2.3). I have installed this and it runs very well and in some ways (especially the number of useful, free apps) I prefer it to WebOS. It installs as a dual boot configuration. I installed the Alpha 2.1 version initially and encountered no major problems apart from 1) needing to restart the WiFi connection from time to time, 2) the so-called SOD (sleep of death) issue where when you press the Power button to put it to sleep it will turn off the unit after a time requiring a 20 second hold-down of the Power and Home buttons to restart), and 3) that the battery drains much more quickly than in WebOS. THESE PROBLEMS ARE LARGELY SOLVED UNDER Alpha 3. Out of several dozen apps I have installed from Google Market and Amazon's App Store I only found a few that did not work properly. Your mileage may vary. Important: If you try this please follow the instructions very carefully - read over the entire article once before you start. If you find you don't understand something it is better not to attempt it. HP has said installing Android will void the warranty! Of course you don't have to ell them you did it and may be able to wipe the memory and put the WebOS back on the TP. But just be aware of the risk.
  • Alpha 3.5 is available
    I have installed it (using the "install zip from sdcard" via ClockworkMod). It is said to have fixed the so-called SOD (sleep of death) issue in most cases. And based my personal experience has largely resolved the rapid battery drain issue and the WiFi drop issue - so great improvement!
  • CyanogenMod 9 (Android 4/Ice Cream Sandwich) Alpha 2 New
  • How to CyanogenMod 9 Alpha 0.6 (same method for ALpha 2) New
  • CyanogenMod on HP TouchPad Support Forums
  • Rootzwiki HP Touchpad Android Developer Forum
  • Rootzwiki "Best Tablet Optimized Apps For Cm7 Touchpad" Forum Thread
    Support Links for HP Touchpad
  • HP Touchpad Support Portal: Support documents for common problems
  • HP TouchPad Software/Hardware Support Forums
  • Using HP webOS Doctor: "HP webOS Doctor is a tethered update tool that installs the latest approved webOS software version on your device. You can use webOS Doctor to recover a device that has experienced problems or to update a device to the current version of webOS."
  • Contact Support/Repair Services: Phone support is available on a chargeable basis. Fee is waived if you're within 90 days of purchase, or if your issue results in a repair order being created.
    U.S. Support (English):
    Phone: 877-426-3777
    Hours: Mon-Fri 6am-8pm PST
    Fee: $14.95
    A better/free option is chat. I had a problem with a Touchpad screen (1-2 inches at top was unresponsive). A HP rep came online in about 3 minutes and we had diagnosed and had a repair order (with free shipping) underway in less than 30 minutes. Much easier than dealing with phone waits and lost connections. I received a UPS return envelope and box for return of the Touchpad the next day. I dropped it in a UPS dropbox the same day. I will report the results when the Touchpad returns - they estimated 10-14 days if I recall correctly. In any case the repaired (not replaced) TP arrived yesterday (so 13 days) - and at first I thought, "Great they fixed it!" - then new problems started showing up - the screen randomly freezes requiring toggling power (to go into sleep mode and waking up again)! I guess it will be back online for another chat!
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