The Rise and Fall the HP Touchpad and WebOS


Now you may be asking yourself, Why are you making a video about the HP touchpad almost 7 years after its release and demise. It’s called Tech Nostalgia and that’s what this series is all about.

One of the things I love is old, failed and alternative tech. My fascination started when I was very young with my Amiga 500. I love trying to get software or operating systems working on hardware that shouldnt be able to run them. Its one of the reasons I was heavily involved with the Hackintosh community in 2006 and one of the reasons I used Redhat Linux as my main desktop OS for about 5 years. With all that said.Lets take it back, way back.

Back to the 28th April, 2010, Hewlett-Packard announced it would purchase Palm for a staggering $1.2 Billion. Palm was famous for creating some of the first smartphones and PDAs the world had ever seen. They even invented and licenced the handwriting tech to Apple for the Abysmal failure that was the Newton.

Along with HPs acquisition of Palm came the rights and source code to their shiney new linux based operating System webOS. WebOS was the spiritual successor to PalmOS. This is where the story of the HP Touchpad begins.

In February 2011, almost a year after the announcement, HP unveiled a new lineup of very powerful WebOS products, one of which is the ill-fated HP Touchpad.

The Touchpad was released in the US in July of 2011 to really mixed reviews and very poor sales.

Around a month later on August 14th 2011 the HP Touchpad was launched here in Australia for around $500 for the 16GB version and around $600 for the 32GB version.

But Just 4 days later in a completely unexpected turn of events HP announced that it was discontinuing all of their webos products globally via a press release. I dont think that had ever happened before. It was completely unheard of at the time. I cant think of a company that has done that since either.

This is where my journey with the HP touchpad begins! Following the announcement here in australia every single store that stocked the touchpad started selling them in ridiculous fire sales. People who had paid that $5-600 price just days before were furious as they were being sold for as low as $99! Im fairly certain that HP offered them a rebate of some sort after the announcement.

I was lucky enough to pick one of the 32GB models up for around $140 and here it is! Still in perfect working order.

Lets dive in and take a closer look. Firstly I love the design. Its a sleek 9.7 inch tablet that has some serious weight to it. Honestly when you pick it up it feels like you are lifting up a granite floor tile or a full size laptop. Seriously its really that heavy.

I love the quirky sound effects it makes when you do all the the things. Its like a mix between Windows 95 Plus and rollercoaster tycoon.

The Touchpad also packed some really unique features for its time.

It has preemptive multitasking. Im not talking about how apple used to freeze apps in the background in iOS when you switched, it was proper multitasking. That was thanks to its dual core 1.2GHz CPU. Dual core CPUs in mobile devices were almost unheard of at that time. Now we scoff at a phone or tablet that has less than 8 cores.

It also had Adobe Flash built in. In 2011 that was actually a big deal. HTML5 was just beginning to really take hold but Flash was still top dog for interactive content on the web. So if you wanted to play any games on NewGrounds youd have no problems playing them at all. But somehow I dont think that it will work now.

But the killer feature wasnt that fact that it had true preemptive multitasking, a dual core cpu or flash built in. It had something else built it. A little thing called HP Touchstone. Thats right the Touchpad had wireless charging back in 2011! Ill be honest with you. I have no idea where my original charger or touchstone is so I cant show you it but what I can say is that it only took Apple 6 years to catch up.

Before HTC was putting Beats Audio into their phones HP had Beats Powered Stereo Speakers built right and with a decent set of headphones you had one of the best portable audio players of the time! HP was claiming this was next big things in mobile audio however as I mentioned earlier the touchpad is about as mobile as a house brick by todays standards. You know those times when youre laying in bed and youre using your phone and suddenly your fingers turn to jelly and you drop your phone on your face. Well this happened to me with the touchpad more times that I can remember. Its so heavy that when I dropped it on my face I almost had to call an ambulance everytime because my skull was basically smashed to pieces and I have no memory of the experience because I was knocked unconscious.

Thats what I truly love about the Touchpad. It wasnt trying to be too serious. It was attempting to exist in a world where iOS and Android already existed. It just wanted to be acknowledged that it was there. It just wanted a high 5 as it walked past with Apple and Google screaming out “Yeah the boys” The only problem was the ecosystem just never picked up momentum.

In all seriousness though the touchpad was and still is a great tablet.

So what would possibly compel me to use an almost 7 year old tablet in 2018?

Well, 1 word. Android! Thats right! The HP Touchpad can run Android and if Im honest, It runs it pretty freaking well.

As well as webos, my touchpad is also dual booted with Android 7.1! Whats more surprising that is the development community for the touchpad is still very active and still creating new builds for the people like me who just cant let go. But we know how that goes, If I somehow let go. Ill have to call an ambulance.

I hope you enjoyed that little bit of tech nostalgia. If you want to see more of this kind of content please let us know in the comments section down below.

If you have a HP Touchpad and want to run Android it is pretty painless and easy to get running. Ill put some links to some forum posts below for anyone that is interested.

You peek, we seek, We out!