Why You’d Want to Buy an HP TouchPad When the Next Batch Arrives

September 2, 2011
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To me, it was the ridiculously low fire sale price and the potential for running Android that made the HP TouchPad gain back a heartbeat after its maker pronounced it dead.

Within just hours after HP announced the lower prices for a product it no longer wishes to continue producing, retailers selling the device ran out of stock quickly. Even HP’s own online store and its company-owned outlets quickly ran out of units.

Thousands of queuing customers didn’t get their hands on the HP TouchPad. They simply fell in line too late. And, right now, a lot of them are enraged by disappointment, bitterness, and envy towards those who were able to buy.

The good news is that HP has announced that it will continue to produce up to about a million more units of the HP TouchPad.  On the surface, HP is saying the additional units are to satisfy the market’s thirst, although an industry insider peeped behind the door and found that HP has existing yet-unsatisfied agreements with its component suppliers.

Aside from the natural human tendency to gravitate towards cheaply priced products, what might be reasons for you to fall in line again for the last batch of upcoming TouchPads?

webOS and HP TouchPad Support Not Yet Fully Dead

webOS is a great operating system. Despite its being scorned for being too technical and geeky for average users, it is quite a stable operating system. Though, some people find the performance a bit slow and buggy.

One major downside to webOS is that it doesn’t have as many apps as Android. The apps that mill around platforms such as webOS and Android help keep the platform alive, besides providing more value to the hardware on which those operating systems run.

If you decide to keep webOS, you can feel safe that HP will continue to support both the HP TouchPad and webOS for at least one more year. One HP official even assured of at least one upcoming over-the-air update for webOS in order to add functionality to the HP TouchPad. What happens after that additional year of support, however, is up in the air.

Android on HP TouchPad

This is not just a possibility. It has been done. Although, developer efforts are still in the early stages.

CyanogenMod, for instance, was made to boot on the HP TouchPad. CyanogenMod is popular for providing alternative custom Android versions based on Android’s source code. The developer team not only has made Android boot up on the HP TouchPad but has also added Logical Volume Manager (LVM) support and several important tablet tweaks. The team plans to pursue support for 2D hardware acceleration and a multiboot solution to allow HP TouchPad users to choose what operating system to load at boot time (whether Android, webOS, Ubuntu, or some OS that works on the TouchPad).

Another project that has made inroads into putting Android on the HP TouchPad is the Touchdroid project. The Touchdroid project intends to bring Android 2.3 Gingerbread to the HP TouchPad first. The developers could not proceed with bringing Android 3.x Honeycomb to the HP TouchPad because Google has decided to keep its source code under lock and key. But, once Android 2.4/4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes out this fall, Touchdroid developers will shift their focus to that, the source code of which Google has promised to release under opensource licenses.

Image credit: mrhomegrown (CyanogenMod.com)

Android on the HP TouchPad also instantly gives the tablet access to more than a quarter of a million apps on the Android Market. That’s more than can be said of webOS on the TouchPad.

Once such projects ripen into stable and fully functional ports, HP TouchPad owners can bid goodbye to webOS if they so choose. Ninety-nine dollars or 149 dollars is not a bad price for an Android tablet manufactured by one of the world’s leading peripherals manufacturers, right?

Before HP decided to cave in and clear out the HP TouchPad from its stockrooms via a fire sale, the tablet was never one of the public’s darlings. But, thanks to dirt-cheap pricing, it now is. Perhaps, that’s one lesson to be learned by other tablet manufacturers: the magical price point for tablets is somewhere around the 100-dollar mark–at least for now. Now that the HP TouchPad has created demand for it, who’s to say HP won’t revert to regular pricing? But, then again, it might not–unless HP sustains that demand with an ecosystem and a user experience that the public can swallow.

Are you grabbing one when the new batch arrives?  Why or why not?

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