Web Culture

So You Bought A TouchPad: 5 Uses For Your “Dead” Tablet PC

Tim Brookes 31-08-2011

uses for tablet pcThe dust has settled and by now you should either be bitterly disappointed or overjoyed at the bargain you just snagged. If you were lucky enough to grab yourself a firesale HP TouchPad or are considering picking one up from a friend then you’ll probably be wondering exactly what use you’ll get out of it.


The lukewarm reviews received by the TouchPad shouldn’t put you off – those reviews took the previous price-point into account. Now you’ve got yourself a dual-core tablet with 1GB of RAM and at least 16GB of storage – and it cost you roughly the price of an eReader. Let’s see what this baby can do!

The Generic “Everywhere” PC

I’ve seen this mentioned a lot online, though much of the time the subject in question are cheap Android tablets – or “abominations” as I like to call them – not expensive dual-core WebOS devices. HP’s TouchPad could just as easily sit on the couch, and for $99 perform as a stellar 9.7″ touchscreen browser.

uses for tablet pc

With a name like WebOS, you’d expect the TouchPad to chew through webpages – and it’s certainly not a bad browsing experience. Unfortunately, the browser isn’t quite fully HTML5 compliant though you have got a competent version of Flash running. I gave Flash a hard time in my Blackberry PlayBook article 6 Reasons To Avoid The BlackBerry PlayBook The BlackBerry PlayBook is available. It has the brand behind it, but does it make for a wise purchase decision? Read this article to decide for yourself if the PlayBook gives you the bang for... Read More , and that’s because it’s presented as a great selling point. I’ve no doubts that the TouchPad would have sold just as quickly without Flash support at clearance prices, and I’m not going to complain about its inclusion either. At least you can browse Newgrounds, right?

The Perfect Comic Book Reader

The TouchPad isn’t in the same league as Android or iOS when it comes to apps, but there’s already a highly competent comic book reader available called Comicshelf HD. Both the 16GB and 32GB models provide enough space to load up on .CBZ files (comic book archives) and enjoy on a glorious 9.7″ capacitive touchscreen.


uses for tablet computer

It’s not free (it costs around €1.50, depending on your region) but it’s not going to break the bank either. If you’ve been looking for the perfect device for reading comics 10 Comic Blogs That Every Comic Book Fan Should Read Comic books are probably the first things that help us to dream. Through the growing up years, comic books and the capers in them shield us from the harsher realities of the world outside, where... Read More then you’ve found it in your cheap-as-chips TouchPad.

A Glorified eReader

So it’s not quite an eReader – after all, the TouchPad uses a standard backlit LCD as opposed to e-ink as seen in the Kindle. However, there is already a Kindle app How To Use The Amazon Kindle Reader For The iPhone & iPod Touch Read More available for the TouchPad, and this provides a wealth of reading materials both for free and as separate purchases.

At the moment Amazon’s Kindle service trumps iBooks for content (quite considerably), so you’ll probably not miss Apple’s service too much if you’re already accustomed via an iPhone. PDF and standard document viewing is also supported, so you can check important documents or even our amazing guides out on the go too.


uses for tablet computer

Oh, and the backlit display means you won’t be keeping anyone awake with a bedside lamp any more.

Games! Games! Games!

The fate of WebOS still hangs in the balance, and the likelihood of developers supporting the tablet in future apps and games looks slim. Not to worry – there are plenty of other games you can enjoy on a TouchPad for hours.

uses for tablet computer


Flash works – so as long as there are browser-friendly versions of your favourites you will be able to play them. This goes for games like Bejeweled and other Pop Cap titles as well, provided a mouse isn’t imperative. There’s also a free version of Angry Birds HD, which you should avoid like the plague when trying to get some work done.

An Android Tablet Or Touchscreen Linux?

Did you know that a $1,500 reward has been offered to get the TouchPad running Android? Some developers have already started engineering Google’s tablet and smartphone OS to play nice with the TouchPad’s hardware, and it’s surely only a matter of time before real progress is made.

The 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor coupled with the on-board 1GB of RAM should handle Gingerbread just fine, with plans to introduce a Honeycomb port and far more optimistic Ice Cream Sandwich ports somewhere down the road.

uses for tablet pc


Another exciting development is one blogger’s conquest of getting Ubuntu Linux running on the TouchPad. This is something you can do right now – with web browsers Firefox, Chromium and Flash plugins all working swimmingly. Not every Ubuntu app is supported yet, of course, but in time it’s possible we may see a TouchPad-optimized branch of Ubuntu.

Not bad for a $99 tablet!


If you were wondering whether your purchase of a TouchPad really was a bargain then hopefully I’ve answered that one here. Yes, it’s a great deal. $99 doesn’t get you much in the world of tablets, but the TouchPad is a surprisingly competent and pleasantly powerful piece of kit for the money you paid.

Keep your eyes peeled for an article next week about speeding up your TouchPad by installing custom patches and other tweaks.

Did you bite the bullet and buy a TouchPad? Good decision? Do you like WebOS? Did you decide against the purchase? Thinking of selling? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credits: TouchPad Apps (savs)Quick Office & Adobe Reader (savs), TouchPad Ubuntu (Liliputing, Brad Linder)

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  1. Vukken99
    November 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I bought it for 500 no regrets very competent device

    I can go to websites I could not go with ipad

  2. Guest
    November 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I like it.  Excellent value and functionality

  3. Phil Fot
    September 9, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I bought a 32GB model. I'm very happy with it. Except for a couple of issues (no support for connecting to networked drives, no SSH app), I'm satisfied. I use it to browse on occasion and to read manga.

    I am still considering a change to the android port when it is finished. WebOS is speedy enough, but there's a lack of decent utility apps.

    • sej
      November 10, 2011 at 12:31 am

      get the pHone app for network content

      • Phil Fot
        November 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

        Thanks. I'll check it today.

  4. Anonymous
    September 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I bought one, but for the life of me, I cannot read epub or mobi books with the Kindle App.  I downloaded an app called pReader, but I can only get one book running.  The other books act like they are loading and the system freezes.  Any suggestions?

    • Al13ken
      September 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      pReader doesn't seem to work well.  Importing books a very slow process. Seems to import mobi & text fastest.  Lots of lag when turning pages; ie: snail slow.

      Unfortunately is only reader for webos you can read your own books.  Also not recognized by Calibre.

      • Phil Fot
        September 9, 2011 at 10:47 am

        Calibre 8.1.17 (02 Sept 2011) adds TouchPad support.

        I think the page turning speed is an issue with the reader app.

    • shankdub
      October 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      http://joesacher.com/webos/loading-mobi-books-into-touchpads-kindle-app/  There are ways to get your ebooks (start with MOBI first, change filetype to AZW) onto the Kindle app on your touchpad and though it may take a few minutes to get the books into the Kindle app, unless you read 10 or more books at the same time it shouldn't be a huge hassle to do the conversion discussed in the article I linked. 
      As far as ereaders for Touchpad, Kindle blows Preader to bits but again you have to do some manipulating of files etc to get the Kindle app to 'import' your non-Amazon ebooks into the Kindle app. Basically changing the .mobi to .azw and follow the directions in the link (a few more steps are necessary). Again, unless you are looking to import 50+ books into Kindle app in one shot, this should work fine. It's worth the effort to me, since Kindle app turns pages instantly, looks gorgeous and makes bookmarks easily and logically. 

      Preader doesn't even come close and for those using the one available on the App Store (pretty horrible), there is a more recent ALPHA version available that is MUCH better than the app store version. Thing is, this newer version is preware (Alpha release) that requires some steps to download and install to your Touchpad. You want this Preader 'NATIVE' ALPHA version. See this link on how to get Preader NATIVE which again, is SO much better than regular Preader. http://www.precentral.net/preader-native-alpha . There are links and directions at the link and basically will require you to put your Touchpad into DEVELOPER MODE, install an application called WebOSQuickInstall onto your PC, and using that app on your pc to install the .IPK file of Preader Native Alpha (or any other .IPK if you want) onto your Touchpad. Its a fairly safe process for installing NON-appstore apps to your Touchpad. 

      Also mentioned in a previous post/reply, Calibre ebook converter (installed onto your PC, not your touchpad) is an incredible tool and will help in creating the formats you need for Preader/Kindle app or any other ereader apps for that matter. http://calibre-ebook.com/ These tools/processes helped me to enjoy my Touchpad as an ereader without too much hassle. Books look INCREDIBLE in Kindle app, so I'm very happy now. When I first got my Touchpad ($99) and found only Preader was available as a Kindle alternative, I was VERY disappointed.

  5. Anonymous
    September 1, 2011 at 10:02 am

    webOS could have been a worthy competitor to iOS, Android sucks so bad. I'm sad to see it go. It could have promoted REAL competition, but I guess we'll never know.

  6. Beta Orionis
    September 1, 2011 at 5:20 am

    I honestly don't get why people are thinking it's only a good tablet because it's $99. I'm happy to say I bought it at full price ($500) and I am completely blown away by its capabilities. When Android is ported to it, I'm not going to use it! webOS works perfectly and, in my opinion, is much better than Android. Yeah, sure, there's not a app store with hundreds of thousands of apps, but honestly, who cares if you can't have to scroll down for 5 seconds to find that one app that you're pretty sure you have that you might want to use...? I am satisfied with the selection of apps, the homebrew community, webOS, and the TP hardware. I wouldn't have bought it for any less than what I did. It simply is worth waaaay more than $99. 

  7. Pete
    September 1, 2011 at 1:16 am

    I put one in the cart on 8/20, as i could never get checked out that evening.  I went back the next morning early, fired up the cart and completed the purchase.  I received an order confirmation from HP a few days later (I see they adjusted the exhorbitant $21 shipping fee to zero, so it's now just 99 + tax).  I've called HP and they can't (or won't) tell me a thing, they claim they don't know what the status is and the next thing I would receive would either be a cancellation or a tracking number.  After 10 days, I have received neither!