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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The HP Touchpad: the Best Affordable Tablet

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By http://www.flickr.com/photos/traftery/5532966191/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/traftery/5532966191/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
While Amazon’s Kindle Fire, priced at a modest $199, is a great deal for anyone wanting to dive into the features of a tablet, the HP Touchpad is still the best affordable tablet.  While it has been removed from store stocks during the massive fire sale (in which I acquired mine), it can still be found on Internet sites for around $200.

For $200, the HP Touchpad is a steal.  It includes many of the features that are standard in premium tablets, such as a 9.7 inch 1024 x 768 screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, and a front-facing camera.  In addition to these standard features, it includes a couple unique features of its own, including inductive charging (touchstone charger required), Beats Audio technology, and a home button that flashes when there are notifications.

Out of the box, the HP Touchpad includes WebOS, which is heralded as a very unique and innovative OS.  It is probably the closest thing to iOS that can be obtained without an iPad.  There is, however, a major drawback: lack of apps.

This can be fixed by what is probably the best feature of the HP Touchpad: the ability to root it and add other operating systems.  The best operating system available for the HP Touchpad is Cyanogenmod 9.  Cyanogenmod 9 is a port of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) that was made available by the community to users of the HP Touchpad.  It is a great port and many users report that it runs Ice Cream Sandwich better and faster than $400 tablets that are made to run the OS.  Nearly all of the features of Ice Cream Sandwich are available on the HP Touchpad, except usage of the camera and microphone.

In addition to Android, other operating systems can be installed on the HP Touchpad, the most popular being Linux.  Through the use of the moboot boot screen, users can switch between these operating systems, meaning that they can enjoy them all without losing the beloved WebOS.

The HP Touchpad offers many great features and advantages over the Amazon Kindle Fire.  The greatest advantage is not being locked into Amazon’s closed version of Android.  Users of the HP Touchpad can still use the Amazon Appstore, but they may also use the larger Google Play market.  In addition to an open ecosystem, the HP Touchpad also includes a larger screen and more powerful hardware.  Installing Android onto the HP Touchpad is not a difficult task with the many tutorials on the Internet, and if one is willing to take the time to do it, he or she will have a much more functional tablet at a low price.
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