Friday, October 28, 2011

HP Touchpad and Android

Thanks to a buddy who works at HP I recently snagged one of those HP Touchpad 16GB for $99 (or about $121 after tax and shipping). The hardware is pretty nice to hold and feels pretty solid. It's a tad thicker and heavier than my iPad 2. I like the rounded corners.

16GB (about 12.3GB free out of the box)
9.7" 1024X768 IPS screen
1.2ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 APQ8060, dual-core ARM
Qualcomm Adreno 220 core GPU
1 GB ram
micro usb

Here are some benchmarks. As you can see the hardware is rather top notch. Apparently you can overclock to 1.5ghz but I didn't try. There is no dedicated GPS so turn by turn is out. Map applications though work ok with using wifi for location.


I picked up the HP Touchpad Custom Fit Case (about $20) and the Splash Masque Clear Screen Protectors ($10 for 3). The screen protector isn't bad. It's the usual static cling type application and is pretty clear. Installation went pretty well with my usual "clean room" procedures (steam up the bathroom, make sure screen is completely clean, use long strips of scotch tape to go over entire screen to lift off any dust/lint, use smaller pieces of tape to help lift and re-position as you dial in the alignment). The case is HEAVY and adds some noticeable bulk but it does feel good in the hands. The cover looks like a smart cover but it is actually pretty dumb since it just flops around with nothing to keep the cover closed. Keep that in mind if you plan to toss this thing into a bag. Also, it uses a bit of velcro to put it in the 2 different stand modes. The cover does flip all the way around to the back for when you want to hold it. Compared to my iPad 2 with powersupport screen protector and the iCarbons on the back this thing feels like it's from the stone age with all the weight and bulk. At least it looks nice. It feels odd that I'm spending almost 30% of the cost of the tablet on accessories.

- First thing you want to do after charging and setting up your hp account is go update your webos to the latest version. It is 3.04 as of this writing. Also, make sure you update your apps especially the hp app catalog.
- After that it is time to start side loading some stuff if you really want to play with webos. Here are some great instructions on how to get preware installed which is basically a catalog of homebrew apps.
This also takes care of installing the novacom driver which is required later when we get to the android stuff. Make sure you reboot after you get preware installed and before you launch it for the first time otherwise it will continue to hang. After a reboot preware seems to run just fine. The only things I was really interested in were the file manager Internalz Pro and pReader native alpha (epub reader) both which you can install using preware. Fyi, pReader native was quite buggy and performance wasn't that great though a lot better than the pReader in the official app store. There is a lot of things to try in preware if you want to really dig into webos but I didn't really explore that much.
- I found the browser to be adequate but sluggish. It's nowhere near as nice as safari on iPad 2. It does do flash...Yeah!!!! But flash video playback is poor at best hitching every few seconds.....Boooo!!!! (issue was consistent on multiple sites I tried). I could actually stream music using the subsonic web interface. Even video worked but the hitching was really annoying.
- I installed the Amazon Kindle app and messed with it a bit. It's ok.
- I found the actual OS and UI nice and smooth but the apps all around pale in comparison to iOS apps. If you stick with just webos I guess you would still get your $100 worth out of it....barely.

Android (2.3.7)
- So I had enough of webos and I figure it was time to install Android which is the main reason to own a touchpad. There is a really good guide here:
- You can ignore step 1 and all the stuff about installing novacom since you already did that.
- I went ahead and installed gApps to get the android marketplace on there all in one shot. The file you want from here:
is CyanogenMod 7 20110828 md5: 1647897d8ac3efb04723d2ad2c361a3f
So the files you want in \cminstall on your touchpad are:

Don't rename them or do anything but copy them as is to \cminstall.
And with the latest alpha all apps show up in the marketplace just fine.
- Step 10 make sure you wait a while until the usb connection is good and solid. Mine did the connect disconnect dance for a bit before it settled down.
- In the future if you ever need to update cyanogenmod follow these instructions:
I've tested that out and it works fine.
- Now you can dual boot between webos and android anytime you want. Cyanogenmod also mounts the hp media shared part of the storage as a fake sd card. This is great because any media you put on there (it looks just like a usb drive when connected to a pc) is accessible from either OS.
- Post install I had 10.3GB free so the install only used up around 2GB.
- At this point I started going app install crazy and moving installed apps to the fake sd card. You have 1.5GB of internal storage so it wasn't entirely necessary.
I did this and android crashed HARD and rebooted but got stuck on the blue circle screen. Then, I had to force a shut down (hold down power then hold down home key for 10 sec). After that my fake sd card would no longer mount. So yeah, move only your largest apps to the sd card if you plan to install a ton of apps. To fix it I had to boot back to webos, fire up Internalz, delete some files out of .android_secure folder before I could get android to mount the sd card again.
- The good news is most apps seem to work quite well. Almost every single google app works just fine including gmail, google+, google voice, google maps, google books, google translate, google reader, google earth, google music, etc. Everything syncs nicely with my google account. What didn't work for me was google docs. Youtube works in full screen mode (landscape) but has issues in portrait.
- The big things that still don't work properly is the camera and microphone. The microphone records what sounds like a very slow talking version of what you say.
- Other apps that worked just fine:
Aldiko (nice epub reader)
Dolphin Browser
Fluent News
PocketCloud VNC
Netflix (runs great!)
subsonic (even video which uses flash works pretty well)
Wow Armory
Advanced Task Killer
Battery Widget (Geekyouup)
Amazon app store
adobe reader
amazon mp3 music player
plex (still no air video but not bad)

Some games I tried:
All versions of Angry Birds
CK Zombie (3d)
Dungeon Defenders: Second wave (3d)
Seven Stars (3d)
Death Worm
Raging Thunder Lite (3d)
Stair Dismount (3d)
Robon Defender
Asteroid Defense
Galaxy Wars tower defense
Grave Defense
Medieval Castle defense
NExus Defense
AI Factory games (reversi, checkers, chess, four in a line, sudoku)
help out (rush hour type game that actually scales properly)
Tanagram Moment

Some apps that don't work:
Anything that uses the camera or mic
bing (won't let me install from app store - item is not available on your carrier)
asphalt 5
Asteroid Defense 2 (graphical glitches)

- 3D performance was pretty acceptable already on this alpha build. The games are definitely playable.
- Overall app compatibility seems very good so far. The android market app likes to crash now and then but it's not that big of a deal.
- Battery life still isn't the greatest.
- You might also want to disable mobile data (settings, wireless & networks, mobile networks, uncheck data enabled). This helps wifi to stay connected after coming out of sleep.
- The touchpad is very picky about chargers. I have mono price USB chargers rated for 2A (works great with iPad 2) and my iPad 2 charger also rated at 2A and none of them will charge the touchpad. In android it says it is charging but it still drains over time even while sleeping. Webos gives a warning. It might be worth picking up a couple of extra ones at amazon for $12.22 each. Here is a very informative discussion on why this is the case and some modding info.

Overall I'm very impressed with the touchpad especially with android on it. For a $100 it is a fantastic value no matter how you look at it. The components are top notch and performance (especially video and 3d) are already good enough in the current cyanogenmod alpha build. It is already stable enough for everyday use. The browser in android is better and faster than webos. The flash support is definitely better in android. You get 2 OS's to play with for one low price. Hopefully when ICS source gets released we'll see a port of that too. I guess I'll be cancelling that Kindle Fire preorder. Even at current ebay prices of around $200 this might be more worth it than a Fire. If you ignore price though I still think the iPad 2 is a MUCH better tablet.

Highly recommended.

UPDATE: 12/2/2011
Alpha 3 is released:
I went ahead and did the old acmeinstaller method to update because I noticed there was a new boot loader and a new clockworkmod recovery out.  I didn't think it would be wise to try and update clockworkmod recovery using the clockworkmod method.  Everything installed smoothly.  Hopefully this fixes the sleep of death which seems to happen quite often (won't come out of sleep and must do a hard reset).

UPDATE: 5/9/2014
So I dug up the old HP Touchpad today and decided to update it.  I ended up installing kitkat 4.4.2 on it and it runs pretty well for 3 yr old hardware.  Even the camera and mic work now.  I think bluetooth does too but I haven't tested it yet.  Netflix works for the most part but seems to have some graphic corruption for the first 15 sec or so on starting a video.

The main guide:

another guide with some additional info:

latest jcsullins rom:

Since I was coming from cm9 I did the whole backup and copy to pc (using root file explorer and smb map), uninstall android, boot to webos, erase usb, installed the touch recovery (very nice) and moboot (this step is acmeinstaller5), repartittion (I have the 16gb one) (steps from here on out are installed through clockwork recovery install zip function), install the latest jcsullins snapshot (data media build), install gapps.

I recommend watching the related youtube videos as they add some details not covered in the written guides.

It all went very smoothly, and I highly recommend doing it you still use the hp touchpad.

I only dug it up since it's really my only "real" ish android machine besides the mk808.

update: Additional fixes:
Reflash A6 firmware to fix sleep battery drain issue:
I used method 1 which is further down in the post.

Add flash support back in:


Anonymous said...

another tablet? wow.. you're on a roll..

would have been fun to play around with this. but i haven't felt the urge to mess around with android yet.
there's nothing compelling on the platform.

i guess since i'm so entrenched in windows. it seems backward to go back to trying to find subpar replacements for everything i use.

well have fun with it. hp really doesn't seem to know what they're doing with their pc/tablets

it's funny, i use the hp tc 1100
a lot more, and find it one of the
best tablets ever:

and it came out in 2005! and still
outperforms 90% of every android/ios tablet out right now.


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