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back to article Coders breathe Android into dead HP fondleslab

If you bought an HP TouchPad, you bought a tablet whose operating system has, shall we say, an uncertain future. But a group of independent developers is working to give your purchase a new lease on software life. Under the aegis of Rootz Wiki – an online community of Android developers – a quartet of coders has launched a …

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QNX

Seems like an ideal kernel for an underpowered tablet like Touchpad. Question is what UI to put on top!

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Touchpad wasn't underpowered

A 1.2Ghz dual core processor with 1GB memory is not underpowered. It may be WebOS was non-optimal. I bet the kernel was the least of this device's troubles unless it had enabled some stupid scheduler and all the background processes were interfering with performance.

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I think the 'underpowered' label is a response to...

... the news that surfaced over the weekend, on The Next Web, that "HP tested webOS on an iPad. It ran over twice as fast as the TouchPad" and, in the same story:

"With a focus on web technologies, webOS could be deployed in the iPad’s Mobile Safari browser as a web-app; this produced similar results, with it running many times faster in the browser than it did on the TouchPad."

The story refers to a current generation iPad 2 and claims that HP had the TouchPad hardware fully designed before they bought Palm, so "the TouchPad was a two-year old piece of hardware that the webOS team equipped with their tablet-friendly platform".

The reference cited is only "a source close to the subject" and makes it clear that the don't know what sort of testing produced those metrics in an appended update. So the story should be taken with a pinch of salt, but if true then it would justify calling the TouchPad underpowered given that it was priced at the same sort of level as the iPad 2.

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Anandtech's take

Article about Touchpad not being underpowered

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4658/its-not-qualcomms-fault-dispelling-touchpad-myths

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Stop

Anandtech LOL

People still read that crap?

Microsoft bought them along time ago, they have been ranting pro Microsoft propaganda ever since.

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Flame

Re: Anandtech LOL

May I suggest that all websites are probably biased and you are just choosing that ones that reinforce your own biases?

The AnandTech article argues that the HP tablet's hardware should provide better performance on SunSpider than it does based on the technical specs of the SoC and similar SoC's. No hint of Microsoft bias there.

Or did I miss the bit that read "if HP used a Microsoft OS, there product would be faster than an iPad"?

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FAIL

Huh? Underpowered?

1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon, Adreno 220 and 1GB of RAM?

That sounds like the recipe for an extremely powerful tablet in 2011.

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Thumb Up

Even more reason to buy one...

But PCWorld won't answer the phone, and there are none showing as in stock anywhere.

Come on guys, I have the money burning a hole in my pocket, please sell me a 32GB for 115 squids like it says on your website.

Grrr...

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Coffee/keyboard

good luck to them

Since I'm typing this on a cheapie tablet (Advent Vega) running Honeycomb thanks to a similar effort named VegaComb, all sorts of stuff is possible :-)

You'd owe me a keyboard but fortunately the touch screen is naturally splash resistant.

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RE: QNX

It isn't _actually_ particularly overpowered, though. It uses two Qualcomm Scorpion cores at 1.2GHz, which you'd expect to be a _little_ slower than the 1GHz A9s used in the iPad 2 or the current crop of Android tablets (in the latter case without NEON), but it shouldn't be dramatic, and it's much faster hardware than the original iPad, which isn't exactly painfully slow.

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Shouldn't be that hard

WebOS devices can easily have the ROMs reloaded via the WebOS Doctor tool, which is an offical Palm app. (HP having rescinded their ownership) Plus WebOS is Linux. WebOS QuickInstall already has instructions for loading Ubuntu onto WebOS devices. As long as you can get Android drivers for the components all is good.

WebOS 3.0 was your typical x.0 release: slow and desperately needed the 3.02 update. 3.02 is pretty snappy but it is boosted by adding the patches from WebOS QuickInstall that disable the excessive logging. I wasn't thrilled with WebOS 3.0 until I ran the update and applied the patches. Now it's buttery smooth. (sigh)

Not sure why people crap on the hardware. The plastic case isn't specatcular but the screen is on par with an iPad, it has a GB of RAM and equipped with dual-core 1.2Ghz CPU. The exact same used in an HTC Evo 3D or Sensation. All in all, it's CPU-comparable to an iPad2.

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@Robert Synnott

"It isn't _actually_ particularly overpowered, though."

QNX with Photon on top seemed to run very smoothly with terminals, browser, editor - and a bunch of spinny graphics windows for no apparent reason - running on my old 486/66 DX2/8MB back in the day... I was more than a tad impressed. Makes you wonder what people are doing to stress out modern day processors...

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Devil

Interesting, I am almost tempted

Unfortunately I already wasted my HP purchasing budget for this fire sale on an HP Microserver (thanks to an advert on el reg).

They are selling them at 139£ (after all rebates if you do not buy the care pack). That is the price of a quiet Dual Core AMD system with a 4G SATA raid. The motherboard alone is around quid if you buy it elsewhere.

If I saw the "Ubuntu on touchpad" first, I may have held out on the microserver.

Or maybe not...

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Pint

Good Luck...

...finding one.

Best Buy had long lines of customers with Benjamin in hand. All were sold within an hour or two.

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HP purchasing budget.

Incidently i too have blown the budget for a microserver thanks to a tip off from El Reg, although if i can find a tablet for the price listed im snapping it up as soon as possible and then will take a hit else-where...

humm... the food budget has money so ill just go hungry for a little while.

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Teenagers

Teenagers with little experience have already built and ported ROMs to dozens of Android devices. Do not underestimate them! :)

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How on earth does this comment get downthumbed?

Reg readers makes less and less sense by the day.

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Megaphone

Re: How on earth does this comment get downthumbed?

You mean you haven't worked out that most of the voting on Apple/Android/competitor products are voted on by PR droids, fanbois and people trying to justify their last purchase?

If only TheReg could feed the results into some sort of genetic cleansing machine....

And yes, I accept I will probably be cleansed, but it is for the greater good.

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Anonymous Coward

@Cosmo

Maybe it's the teenagers who have trouble with reading comprehension who are downvoting it - thinking they are being made fun of rather than praised?

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Bronze badge

overclocking

there's multiple reports that overclocking the touchpad to 1.5ghz (which takes a few minutes) solves most/all of the lag issues . I haven't tried it myself yet, waiting for one of my new TPs to arrive before I do any experimenting. But as others have noted the hardware is fast - the performance was due to lack of hardware acceleration in many parts of WebOS, just look at where it is hardware accelerated (games and video playback) and you'll see it's blazing fast. Apparently there are people testing overclocking as high as 2Ghz. I'm very weary of overclocking myself. Rather have stable than fast. But I will try it on one of my spare TPs to see how it does.

sad that so many are going to try to run android on theirs - webos is really nice. Just bought a pair of Pre 3s from the UK this past weekend should keep me going for the next 2-3 years on WebOS.

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Bride of Googlestein

"It's alive! It's ALIVE !!"

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jai
Silver badge

but why?

the appeal of the touchpad was that it ran webos - if you want to run android, get an android tablet to start with

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Coat

Re: but why : Existing owners want a future

Existing owners or new purchasers of Touchpads at highly discounted prices want a future, not to be stuck with something for which nobody is writing software and for which there will never be an OS update.

I don't own one and my financial status prevents me from buying one, but if I did have one, it'd have Xubuntu (my favorite Ubuntu version) on it faster than you could say, "Shazaam!" Of course that's my personal preference. I have Android Froyo on my phone and I can easily see why many people might want Android instead of Ubuntu: so they can get the Android apps!

Mine's the one with the bag for the laptop running Xubuntu instead of Vista.

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you need to ask why?

To get a modern tablet running Android for $100. Duh!

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Boffin

RE: but why?

1. Android is a living, breathing, multi-platform project, with thousands of apps. Due to hp management's failure to operate as a team and think before making announcements, webOS is now a zombie OS.

2. IMHO, Android is the better OS, so if it can be made to work on the Ouchpad it will actually be an improvement, especially as the hardware spec makes the firesale price look very good.

3. It's not made by Apple. 'Nuff said..

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WTF?

eBay?

Wonder why they didn't shift these through someone like eBuyer, who at least have half a clue about running an etailer, unlike DSG/PCW/Currys?

It'll be interesting to see what they sell for on eBay in a few days time.

In fact, HP UK used to have a shop on eBay UK, until a year or three ago, for the HP Outlet/HP Renew refurb PC stuff. But then it mysteriously vanished, which was a shame because I bought loads of bargain stuff for friends/neighbours from there (and from the original Morgan).

Selling them through an HP Ebay shop would have told them exactly how much these things are worth on the open market.

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Thumb Up

Well, i got a firesale touchpad

and tbh, i couldn't care less if android is ported.

The browser is great, email is great, iplayer works great, the UI is lovely. I'm really happy with what it does right now.

Good luck to the team, though. Choice is always good.

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Alien Dalvik

If they ever release it that is. It seems they are targetting obsolete platforms so this would be just the thing.

If not, I'm sure there will be someone out there what will make a community based Dalvik port. Maybe these coders could do just that

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Paris Hilton

Lookit all the peeps buying Touchpads

now that they are dead.

If only HP's execs could have known that pricing does matter when entering a new market.

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Holmes

The trouble with execs...

...is that they are all rich and they don't know how important price is to the average person in the street.

If you're a fairly well-off non-techy punter with money to spend you'll buy the industry standard which unfortunately is the iPad. I suspect that 99% of the buying public don't even know about other brands or models.

If you're more of a techy person with spare money then you'll be aware of the alternatives and either follow the sheep or buy a model which meets your unique requirements or has a major USP such as the ASUS EEE Pad Transformer (which rocks BTW).

If you're an average person, techy or not, without much spare cash then you'll not buy a tablet at all because you won't have a spare £400 to spend on it even if you really want one. If you do eventually save up enough money the tendency will be to go with the standard which is the iPad. Execs don't seem to get that this is a massive amount of money for many people and generally people will always play safe with expensive purchases.

If you can't compete on your industry standardness or another USP then your only option is to undercut the competition on price significantly, get your product into a lot of hands and infiltrate market share that way. If your price is right and the product good quality then people will buy no matter what else. People these days don't have £400 or more to splash out on luxuries but many more people do have a spare £100.

Touchpads which weren't shifting at £400 are flying off the shelves at £100 and that's despite it being killed by HP, the very uncertain future of the webOS platform, the very few apps available and the possibility that someone, sometime will manage to get a working version of Android ported to it. Pretty major issues really yet people are buying because the price is right and they're willing to take a punt.

Hell I would have snapped one up if I had been in time despite the fact that I'm more than happy with my EEE Pad. Don't know what I'd have done with it but for £100 I'd love a shiny failed tablet in my sweaty palms.

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Meh

Yeah its a valuable lesson really.

If you want to build a ecosystem quick and get your tablet out there in a now competative market then apply the following rule :-

Production cost of tablet - £100 + £50 for profit = Mega sales and a thriving community.

Do not apply - Production cost of tablet - £100 + £300 for profit = Fail.

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Go

Hell, I want one!

I don't have a slab.

I tried an el-cheapo chinese Android 2.2 machine which was horrible.

For 100 bucks I would try the WebOS thingy. Hey, as long as the main apps are there and they work, who cares? I mean, it's just a coffee table device for catching up on info via the web, email and other trivial tasks that will continue to work on the WebOS slab essentially forever.

The $99 price point is magic for tech - people will spend that much to play around, and if it works out they will be happy punters.

$400 puts the HP slab out of my proce bracket.

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Mushroom

Why?

The only good thing about the OuchPad was WebOS. Why ruin that with Android?

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Linux

The future baby, the future!!

The only good thing about the OuchPad was WebOS. Why ruin that with Android?

Android is hardly a perfectly reasonable operating system, and unlike WebOS has a future as others have pointed out. If HP is getting out of WebOS who is going to release apps for it, fix bugs etc etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Unnecessary

Android on the TouchPad is unnecessary. The best thing about the touchpad is webOS.

I think I have got one from CPW but still waiting for a shipping email, not particuarly happy about their initial get-out clause email but c'est la vie. For £89 its a bargain, an incredibly high quality digital photo frame and internet browser. I already have an Android phone and iPad2. If i'm lucky enough to get one it shall compliment my gadget collection nicely and give the missus something to play with on the sofa.

I wonder if some kind of android app player (like the Playbook) would be better than overwriting webOS.

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Anonymous Coward

CPW

Yeah, I've got a "we might send you something" email from CPW too.

Looking at the way their website failed though, I think it reserves items while in the basket, unlike DSG.

We shall see...

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Your gadget collection

A whole bunch of things that 99.99% of the time are doing the same thing?

Its not wonder computing is still stuck in the early 20thC when people are so ignorant of the functionality of their devices. You dont buy a seperate car for a journey to bluewater - you can use the same one you use to go to Tesco - unless you bought a car from a lousy dealer.

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Anonymous Coward

seperate cars

Actually I do use a different car for long distance journeys because it is more economical.

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Anonymous Coward

Fondle on the sofa

I like it when my wife has a fondle on the sofa... but not with a fondleslab.

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Stop

Overlapping functions aren't necessarily bad.

I can think of lots of reasons to have multiple devices that have some overlapping functions. For example, if I'm going to put one in my backpack equivalent so I can do email on the road, I want it to be smaller and lighter. But when I'm at home and I want to check email AND do business writing, I want a different form factor.

When physical answering-machines-and-phone-in-one were on the market, the builders thought it would be great to have all the functions in one device. Turns out it was a bad idea, because if the answering machine broke down/wasn't working, the phone wasn't usable. Or if the owner wanted a new type of phone, the owner would have to replace both. It was an expensive proposition and that "all in one" product eventually failed.

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Linux

Can't do the math...

> Actually I do use a different car for long distance journeys because it is more economical.

Unless your car is sitting in your garage and slowly dying of rust, the vast majority of your operating cost is going to be day to day use. Adding another couple of thousand miles is not that significant overall. If your car isn't suitable for long trips than it isn't suitable for "general purpose" use either.

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How old do you sound?

Teenagers, eh? C'mon granddad.

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WTF?

"flying off the shelves at £100 "

As they say on The Price is S*ite... "Higher".

They're being sold on on eBay today for at least another £50 on top of the fire sale price (typically bidding at (not closed at) around £150 when I looked earlier today).

No wonder there were none available, the wannabee City traders are speculating in them :(

HP.

Invented.

SAP.

Do Not Touch.

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Go

Told you so...

A previous comment of mine on the 'PILES OF UNSHIFTABLE HP FONDLE-SLABS CHOKE BEST BUY' article pointing out that if HP want to sell the TouchPad they should implement Android on it drew out the naysayers; 3 thumbs down and no thumbs up...

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2011/08/17/hp_touchpads_best_buy/

However, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone as that's what the Android developing / modding community do and do well - set devices free from greedy vendors and breath life into decent hardware with poor, obsolete or badly conceived firmware.

While I'm sure Mr Sohmers is in no way affiliated to HP, (at least there's no mention of them on his CV, which looks quite impressive I have to say - http://trsohmers.com/resume/), HP will be rubbing their hands together with a smile at this news...

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Stop

Won't be putting Android on this

Got a touchpad in the firesale. Yay!However I for one certainly won't be putting Android onto this. I am a long-time webOS user and, yes, there is uncertainty about its future (heavily leaning towards the "it's dead" side of the uncertainty) but the reason I wanted this tablet is *because* of webOS, not despite it.

I hope that the number of people putting Android onto these devices is small and that a new swarm of people find out what a joy webOS actually is to use and maybe breath fresh air into the webOS community (and the webOS community is fantastic, it really is).

So I say - if you have one of these, and your plan is to hack some compromised version of Android onto it, hold fire and give webOS a decent chance. You may find that you really like it and that it has all the apps you would want to use.

On the other hand, if all you want is 'lots of apps' then whack android on it and treat it like any other cheap plastic slab.

I'm not anti-Android at all, I just think it's a crying shame to remove webOS from these things. It's much better than most people give it credit for.

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Happy

WebOS Apps are all there pretty much.

I think people put far too much emphasis on having 40000+ apps in a apps store.

As that recent survey found, most of Android activity is done on just 10 apps. The rest are just duplications or crap.

WebOS has all the core apps. On my Pre 2 I have the Facebook app, Twitter app, Stocks and shares app, BBC, newsfeeds, Spotify, Internet radio, Angrybirds and a dozen other fun games etc. etc. Its all there, even some fart apps.

I dont feel I'm at a loss for anything really. After all I setup a mates Asus Transformer for him. Nice bit of kit but after going through the Android App Store there was really only about half a dozen apps that were really essential/useful to the average punter. The rest were either, crap, niche or duplications.

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FAIL

Forget Android for the Touchpad

I have no doubt that some version of Android will be ported to the Touchpad, but it will never be more than a buggy, partly-functional, badly-performing "90% complete" solution. It's hard enough to get Android running properly on a device with full manufacturer support and a professional support team. The problem with a talented unofficial group doing it their spare time is that there's no motivation to do the hard stuff or to stick with it for the long term. Nobody's paying them. They get their kicks from the initial accomplishment, not from the tough, thankless slogging that gets through the last 10% to make it work properly. It's never going to happen.

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Anonymous Coward

CPW Fail

I got fed up and rang CPW.

CPW: We don't have your order.

Me: Why didn't you contact me then?

CPW: We don't have your details.

Me: Erm... you sent me an e-mail with all my details in it, so I think you do.

CPW: That's an automated e-mail.

Me: Yes - I realise that, but it has my contact details in it, so you clearly have my details, as you sent me an e-mail with it in.

CPW: Sorry about that.

No explanation as to how they sent an e-mail with my details and an order number in, then lost it and didn't e-mail to say it was unfulfilled.

I don't mind so much it was unfulfilled, I kind of expected it, what I mind is that they didn't tell me, yet clearly have my details.

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FAIL

Oh, wait

Nope, now they've decided they did get my order and have texted me to tell me so.

High quality e-commerce. Amazon never have this trouble.

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XDA Developers

Managed to get a 32Gb TouchPad at cheaper than cheap and now the guys and gals at XDA Developers are now into the Android on Touchpad game.

Some very, very smart people over there. Looking forward to their results, will expect good things but I'll be giving WebOS a good go first though

http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?f=1245

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