Back in August 2011, HPs struggling 10 tablet, the TouchPad, had its RRP dramatically slashed over in the US. Being the geek that I am, I was all over this news on blogs such as Engadget and The Verge and quickly pre-empted this happening over here by buying for full price in my nearest pc world. If memory serves, it was close to £500 for the 32gb version I bought. Only a matter of days later, and leaving it completely sealed in the box, the UK price dropped to £89 for the 16gb model and £115 for the 32gb model I bought. I went straight back to PC World and got the difference refunded straight back on to my credit card and left feeling very smug!
HP TouchPad WebOS
The next few hours I spend unpacking the contents of the box, registering all my social network and email accounts to the webOS and checking out what apps were available on the app store. Turns out, not many, not to worry, I thought, plenty of other geeks like me will start developing for this webOS now they’ve all bought cheap touchpads too! This, it turned out was very optimistic thinking on my part as only 6 months later HP pulled the plug on future support and developments for webOS. I was left with a device that was poorly supported and only really good for browsing the net and checking emails. This is not to webOS is not good, infact to the contrary, it had massive potential! HP were right to buy the OS form palm, if only they marketed the touchpad better and lowered the price at launch, we could have seen another real competitor to the apple and android dominance we have today.
This is not an article about failure of HPs TouchPad, but a true underdog story, a tablet everyone had written off but, like phoenix rising from the ashes, it continues to surprise and reinvent itself!
The first re invention of my TouchPad came in the form of discovering how to install apps not originally destined for the TouchPad but instead designed for the palm pre – a phone running the previous version of webOS. The app library available for this device was far more extensive than that available for its bigger, keyboardless brother! The first app I installed this was round was the kindle app, which was a joy to use with all that screen real estate. The next app, which I had really missed was Spotify – this was a slightly more involved install and could only run in a palm pre emulator window but this didn’t bother me as it was the music I wanted it for. Finally I installed internalz which enabled me to overclock my TouchPad which really added an extra gear to the user experience.
But what happened to all those hackers and geeks that bought there TouchPads in the fire sale also? They clearly weren’t interested in writing new apps for webOS as the marketplace has hardly increased in size from the day I purchased mine! Well it turns out they were doing something a little more productive and a lot more cool! They were busy porting Android across to the TouchPad and after a few failed attempts and a lot of man hours later, they had succeeded! I was following these developments very closely, but wasn’t willing to risk bricking my, albeit bargain TouchPad until a stable, tried and tested version had been released. After my concerns had been satisfied and reading up on how to do it, I took the plunge and after what was a fairly painless procedure I now had a dual webOS and ICS Android booting TouchPad – bargain!
TouchPad Dual Boot Screen
Having Android on my TouchPad made me fall in love with my TouchPad all over again, it was truly a different beast and a very capable one at that! The CyanogenMod guys that developed the port across to the TouchPad were supporting the release with nightly builds so minor issues such as the camera not working when I initially flashed Android to my TouchPad, were rectified. Battery life was improved and the user experience got faster and more fluid with each nightly build to the point where updates became weekly and then ad hoc.
This, might I reiterate was all for the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, upgrading the TouchPad to Jellybean would require a whole new rom to hack and flash across which brings us up to now.
TouchPad Running CyanogenMod9
Just as I was keeping an eagle eye on the CyanogenMod9 development of ICS for the TouchPad 12 months previously, so I have been monitoring the latest state of play with CyanogenMod10 – the Jellybean update for the TouchPad. After some teaser footage showing it running in an alpha back in the summer, I think development has finally got to a stage where I am willing to flash it onto my TouchPad. Initial reports of other geeks like myself report good things about the Jellybean update including snappier response times and increased battery life. It is my intention to flash it onto my TouchPad and document how to do this yourself and my thoughts of the update once its installed. I’ll keep you posted, even if I brick it – I guess then I’ll just have to write a post on choosing the right tablet available in the market today!