HP TouchPad Update: New Firmware, New Apps & New Bugs [WebOS]

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hp touchpadIt’s been a few weeks now since HP rolled out a firmware update for their abandoned WebOS tablet and a good while since we’ve mentioned the TouchPad here at MakeUseOf. Seeing as I’m the only staff member who appears to have bought one, I figured it was about time for an update.

I still use my TouchPad fairly regularly (I don’t have an iPad, that must have something to do with it) and am still of the belief that it’s a more than capable touchscreen web surfer and media device – regardless of firesale, lack of support and software issues. Let’s see what HP have been up to recently. This article assumes you have already optimized your tablet with our very own HP TouchPad setup guide part 1 and part 2 which will introduce you to Preware, patches and overclocking.

Firmware Update

The firmware update might have raised many questions amongst those of you who have overclocked using a custom kernel. If (like me) your TouchPad updated itself without as much as an Apply update? prompt then you’ll probably have noticed your kernel stopped working with the new HP software.

hp touchpad

Those of you running Uberkernel simply need to run Preware and download the safe over-the-air (OTA) update – and you’ll want to grab the latest Govnah as well. Once you’re updated, run Govnah and choose the OnDemandTCL profile to restore your overclock. Uberkernel will always be one of the safest overclocking methods and unless you’re really out for some serious speed then I’d recommend sticking with it.

Many of the other patches mentioned in our setup guide will also require updates by now, and luckily the community has responded well with plenty of updates. Again, Preware is your friend and will take care of all your update needs.

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hp touchpad apps

Bugs, Issues, Problems…

Performance has been improved in 3.0.4, in fact I noticed it was running very smoothly even before patch and kernel updates. Unfortunately, bugs do still exist.

There is a sound distortion problem that sometimes occurs when the tablet is playing music or a video and automatically goes into sleep mode. Sound becomes tinny and compressed, and the only way of restoring sound is by manually pressing the Sleep button whilst playing audio or video. This is not related to Uberkernel, other kernels or any of the Preware patches but has been isolated as a firmware problem that even occurs in untouched TouchPads running 3.0.4. Similarly, some webpages cause what I can only describe as “screen tear” where images and text often suffer from random lines and gaps.

Another issue discovered not so long ago involves small cracks appearing near the speakers on many TouchPad units. This is a defect with the tablet’s design and whilst it’s fairly unsightly and not ideal, the problem doesn’t seem to affect operation of the device. If you’re concerned, try contacting HP and see what they offer you.

Apps Ahoy!

Whilst the TouchPad’s selection of apps isn’t anything to write home about, there are a few recent releases that are worthy of a download – especially for free.

Robotek HD

A delightful game that combines the thrill of slot machines with turn-based robot battles, Robotek HD is a free download for your TouchPad with optional in-app purchases. There’s a fairly lengthy single player campaign to work your way through as well as a multiplayer mode where you go head to head with other Robotek players.

Robotek HD is available for a wealth of systems including Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and it’s great to see that it made it to the TouchPad App Catalog as well.

TweetPad

At long last the TouchPad has a fairly responsive and easy to use Twitter client! Both the Twitter website and alternative app SpazHD are fairly laggy and not particularly nice to use on the tablet, and whilst TweetPad lacks features it is still a very usable Twitter client.

hp touchpad apps

Still missing is the ability to view pictures and videos in tweets (without opening a new browser window) though the layout and speed of the app is great. Currently only supporting one account at a time, TweetPad has plenty of potential and already blows SpazHD out of the water.

ScummVM

ScummVM is an adventure game emulator capable of running the likes of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and assorted other hilarious golden oldies. The TouchPad version is finally out of beta and fully operational, complete with gestures and full menu/keyboard access. You can find all the necessary instructions regarding its use in the thread mentioned below.

hp touchpad review

This is one app you won’t find in the App Catalog, and one app you will need Preware for. Simply visit this thread on the official ScummVM message boards and click the link to the .ipk package. If you have Preware installed it will automatically launch and guide you through the installation procedure.

Zinio

One of the best magazine readers finally makes it to the TouchPad! Providing access to lots of content across multiple platforms, Zinio really is one of the best ways to read magazines in the 21st century.

hp touchpad

It’s not perfect (some users are reporting library/sync issues that need a reinstall to fix) but you do get 6 free issues for just signing up on your TouchPad – and that makes the download worthwhile.

Conclusion

The TouchPad isn’t dead yet, and it’s a relief to see some fresh development taking place. Truth be told there’s probably more active development going on in the community than on HP’s side, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If you’re a TouchPad owner looking for a community to follow then check out PreCentral. Their HP TouchPad forum is always busy and features some great tips, discussions and is the best place to be if anything goes wrong with your device.

How are you getting on with your TouchPad? Any recent apps that you love? Still rocking Uberkernel? TouchPad owners, make yourselves heard in the comments below.

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