HP Touchpad – now with Android Ice Cream Sandwich
HP Touchpad – What it’s like to have 2 OSes on one tablet
There are some very Apple-biased phone and tablet reviewers out there. Unfortunately, they are right when they say Apple’s iPad is the king of tablets because even though it doesn’t have Flash support and some other things that come out of the box with Android, the numbers don’t lie. It was clear from the start that the HP Touchpad would be no threat to the iPad, despite having the Flash advantage. WebOS was definitely very well executed, but the apps just weren’t there, so it was far from worth the initial $600 asking price. Then came the firesale, which showed that maybe the HP TouchPad can exist in the iOS and Android-dominated tablet market. And then came the game changer – Cyanogenmod and Android, currently up to Ice Cream Sandwich with CM9. There have been reviews talking about both, but rarely at the same time. So what is the overall experience of having WebOS and an almost fully working ICS in one tablet?
Technically, CM9 is still in the Alpha stage, but this build of Android Ice Cream Sandwich is far above and beyond Alpha level. It runs very smoothly, without a single hint of lag or Force Closes, just like it should on the HP Touchpad, a tablet with a 1.2GHz dual core processor and a gig of RAM. Practically everything is working – Wi-Fi, video, Flash, sound, Google Play, Youtube etc. The only major thing still not working is the front facing camera, but that’s far from a big loss. There are still some minor bugs on the HP Touchpad’s Ice Cream Sandwich build, such as the tablet losing Wi-Fi connectivity after waking up from sleep and not all web videos playing full screen. Still, even though this is an Alpha version, it’s more than good enough to use on a regular basis. Saying this is reliable for an Alpha is an understatement. It’s just reliable period. The battery life is pretty decent too – you should get at least a full day on the HP Touchpad off one charge with no problem.
But then what’s the point of WebOS? Well, for starters it can be dual booted with Android, so it’s still a good backup while the Cyanogenmod team applies some more fixes. In fact, it’s even better than Android for anything that doesn’t require advanced apps. The card system, for example, is something that everyone should try at least once. Instead of windows, you have cards (same thing really) and they are arranged in a poker hand-like pattern. Click on one, it goes full screen. Press the center button, it goes back to card mode. Swipe it up, it closes. Swipe it down, it slingshots upwards and closes. These are some very intuitive inputs and the aesthetics of it don’t get old too quickly. Besides, HP have made WebOS open source, so no doubt there will be quite a few WebOS apps coming to the HP Touchpad in the future.
Hardware-wise, the HP Touchpad has it where it counts, but it does have few features missing such as mobile data radio and a rear facing camera, but those are more needed on a phone than on a tablet. Pretty much any cellphone nowadays will have mobile data access (or capacity for it at least) and a rear camera. Besides, a tablet is something you are much less likely to use outside of Wi-Fi range. A microSD slot would have been nice, but 16 or 32GB of internal storage should be enough for most users.
Today, the HP Touchpad is a $300 tablet that has one of the fastest processors on the market (even faster than the new iPad’s, on paper at least) and Ice Cream Sanwdich (with a bit of work from the user). This kind of hardware is easily premium-level, providing for very stable performance and more than enough bang for your buck, whether you are running the functional Android or the streamlined WebOS.