Alright, the HP TouchPad is here. Finally. It hits stores today and I'm here to make your experience that much better. You see, I’ve been kicking around the TouchPad for a couple days now and wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned with you. Not only will I tackle some of the questions you might run into, but also give you some good, geeky advice. Hey, I’m just here to help. For this story, I’m starting with some fun and games. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to more features looking at different aspects of the TouchPad soon enough. I just wanted to goof around with my new tech toy, first!)
MUSIC Your tunes are obviously a big part of the experience here. So here’s something else we should just get out of the way: On launch day, there is no music store built into the device -- but stuff is on the way. Speakling of which, have you tried the HP Play music management tool yet? In the meantime, let me share with you a couple thoughts -- and handy tips -- around the TouchPad music scene…
It’s a big flash drive. Personally, I love the fact that the Tablet works like a fully function flash drive when you plug it in. I dropped a couple GBs worth of tunes onto the device and it was painless. I just created a “Music” folder and I was done. I can drag files on and off whenever I want, no strings attached.
Take your collection, wherever you want. My biggest, most long-standing pet-peeve with some devices is that they are tethered. That is, they can only work with a handful of authorized computers. What the heck is that about?!? Between home desktop, laptop, wife’s laptop…my work computers….I’m already out of “authorized” computers. I just want to plug in my tablet and transfer whatever files I own back and forth. You can do that with the TouchPad (and all webOS devices, for that matter).
TP on the radio. Calling all radio-streaming fans: iheartradio (with access to 750 radio stations) and TuneIn Radio get TouchPad updates. (Personally, I rely upon the Stitcher app and I’m eagerly awaiting for a TouchPad update for that).
Cloud-based music. You can play around with the HP Play, like I mentioned up top. It will let you upload and sync your music while you're on the go. That said, you always have options. I’m also curious to see what the deal is with Meridian Audio’s Sooloos. It’s not out on the TouchPad as I write this – it’s coming soon – but from what I understand, it’s a pretty robust music management tool. And if you're a fan of Amazon’s Cloud Player can access it through the TouchPad’s Web browser…and it works just fine.
It sounds awesome with Beats audio. I cannot say this enough: Not all audio jacks are created equal. Trust me; I’m plugging in devices all day, listening to music and podcasts during my commute. I get ridiculous amounts of hiss with lesser tablets. Not so with the TouchPad. This story explains why it kicks bass when you plug in headphones. The two side-mounted ports can also project sound reasonably well across a room. Not too shabby for a tablet device.
MOVIES You wanna watch some movies? The HP MovieStore app is coming very soon. And I should say that it’s already here in some capacity. I got a taste of the HP MovieStore when I tested the Pavilion dm1 back in January. (The software for compatible computers is right here, right now for download) It actually worked pretty well on my test laptop.
Transcoding hijinks. OK, so you have a touchpad and you want to watch your own recordings. If you have them in MP4 format, you’re in business – no problem (it supports H.263, H.264). In my case, I tried dragging over everything from AVIs to WMVs…and a couple things in-between. The TouchPad didn’t see the other formats. Enter transcoding. There are plenty of drag-and-drop programs that can quickly port files into a format you need. Josh wrote a story about video encoding for us a little while back if you want to learn more. I’d also recommend you consider looking at Xilisoft Video Converter. I’ve used it a couple times now and it’s handy in a pinch.
And since it is a Flash-based device...If you ever tried using the Hulu Plus app on a device, you always find that one show that’s restricted. You want to watch it, but it says, “Web Only.” Well, the good news is that since the TouchPad can handle Flash, it can give you the full Web version of Hulu and you can watch shows through the browser. PROTIP: It works, but it takes up resources. You might want to at the very least clear the browser’s cache every once in a while. (Found in the Web browser by clicking “Web” in the top left corner and selecting “Preferences.”)
GAMES (AND FLASH GAMES!) Ah, yes, I saved my favorite for last, games. I could list out a bunch of games worth playing on day one – Angry Birds HD and Robotek HD are two unique and fun games you can grab – but instead, I’m going to spend my time here to point you to places where you can play flash games online. Yep, that’s something a lot of people don’t factor in – there are TONS of flash games already out there that you can play provided you have a net connection.There are two caveats with Flash games, though: First, some of these games will require keyboard commands (unless you’ve got a Bluetooth keyboard – then you’re all set). Second, there are some pretty sophisticated Flash games out there that might not be suited for running on a tablet (Some Flash games allow you to adjust them to run at a "Low Quality" setting).
Oh, yes, and if you need to check your crops in Farmville, you can do that as well. You can play Zynga games on the TouchPad.
In the near future, I’ll provide you guys with specific titles that work great on the TouchPad. But there are so many Flash games I need to test, it takes a little more time. So, as I do my "research," check these sites out! And if you come across some awesome games, let me know in the comments!
Well, these are just a couple quick observations after my initial play-tests with the TouchPad, I’ll be sure to give you more insights as I discover more. But how about you? Got some burning questions about how it works? I’ll do my best to help you out. Got some of your own webOS tips for me? I’d love to hear them!