If you were lucky enough to have ordered one of those $99 HP Touchpads in the fire sale last week, chances are it has arrived in the mail and you’ve eagerly unboxed it only to find it’s not quite the tablet experience you were hoping for. Out of the box, the Touchpad just doesn’t feel a snappy as its Android and almighty iPad competition and you may be coming down with a case buyer’s remorse. But fret no longer as HP has embraced the homebrew development community and there are now many tweaks you can easily do to get your hundred bucks worth and make your Touchpad perform like tablet it was meant to be. David K. from Mobility Digest has asked me to write up a mini guide to help those in need with their Touchpad woes.

First and foremost, we need to get you updated. The first update for webOS on the touchpad, version 3.0.2, has been released from HP containing a lot of fixing up of the Touchpad’s speed issues. To update your Touchpad to this release, open the Launcher (the Home/Arrow button in the bottom right corner), then tap Settings, and System Updates. It should do a quick check and notify you that you have a system update available. The download is large and it takes a bit of time for the device to install the update, but be patient and let it do its thing because this is an important step and many of the other tweaks will require this be to be done first. When this is complete, the Device Info on the Settings tab in the Launcher should now say you are running HP webOS 3.0.2.

Now that you are up to date, let’s get preware installed on your touchpad. Preware, in a sense, is like cydia on an iOS device. Unlike rooting and jailbreaking, installing preware and custom kernels will not void your warranty. HP is very supportive of its customers modifying the software on the device to better suit their needs. First thing you will need to do to get preware installed on your Touchpad is put the device in developer mode. This is pretty simple to do, just tap the “Just type…” bar and enter either webos20090606 or updownupdownleftrightleftrightbastart (I chose this one because it put the biggest grin on my face) and you should see a developer mode icon, hit it! When it asks you for a password, do not enter one, just hit submit. I have read that putting in a password could require you to have to restore the device to factory defaults, so don’t do it! Next step is downloading WebOS Quick Install which we will use to install preware on the Touchpad. You can download it from http://forums.precentral.net/canuck-coding/274461-webos-quick-install-v4-2-3-a.html#post2850874 . Once you have that downloaded, connect your Touchpad to your computer using the USB cable provided, select cancel when it asks you if you want to mount as a USB drive, and run WebOSQuickInstall-4.2.3.jar. This will start by installing the Novacom drivers for your computer to communicate with your Touchpad. Once this is complete you should see your Touchpad listed as the connected device. The next step is to hit the globe icon on the right of the dialog box. Once that has fully loaded, on the Applications tab, do a search for “preware”. Click Install and there you have it, preware should be installed and visible in the launcher. You can now open it, but there are a few more things need to be done before we can start installing things in preware. We need to add our feeds by hitting the menu (top left corner where it says “Preware” and has a down triangle) and hitting Manage Feeds. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see a section for adding new feeds.

Add the following 3 feeds:
Name: webos-testing-all
URL: http://ipk.preware.org/feeds/webos-internals/testing/all
Name: webos-testing-armv7
URL: http://ipk.preware.org/feeds/webos-internals/testing/armv7
Name: webos-kernels-testing
URL: http://ipkg.preware.org/feeds/webos-kernels/testing/3.0.2
These are all compressed so leave the check set to Yes. Scroll back to the top of the page and hit the back button. Now hit the menu again and select Update Feeds. Great! Preware is now installed and the hard part is now over.

What now? Disable all that logging! WebOS has a tendency to log everything. This has a profound effect on the Touchpad’s performance. Let’s start out with HP’s own log collecting settings. Start by opening Phone & Video Calls from the launcher and select the Dialpad tab. Dial ##LOGS# (##5647#) and hit the green button below. This should launch the Collect Logs settings. Tap Clear Logs and OK. Then tap Change Logging Levels… and then Set Logging to Minimal and OK. You can now close this. At this point you should see a dramatic improvement in speed on your touchpad. But unfortunately there is still a lot of logging and debugging happening in the background that we need to take care of. To do this, open up preware and search for these 3 packages: EOM Overlord Monitoring, Muffle System Logging, and Remove Dropped Packet Logging. You will need to install these and do a restart, after which your Touchpad should be running like it was meant to.

Pretty good, but can we do more? Oh yeah! Let’s overclock! That’s always fun. Overclocking changes the processor’s stock clock speed to one that is faster, meaning better performance. You may be hesitant to do this at first but the truth is, the processor in the Touchpad was designed to run at 1.5 GHz, which is what the white 64 GB At&t 4g version of the Touchpad is clocked to. So as a minimum, you can install the UrberKernel and selecting the OndemandTcl 1512 profile in Govnah. But I recommend going to 1.7 GHz. To do this, find 2 packages in preware, Govnah and WarthogKernel. After installing these you will need to restart your system. After you have rebooted, you should now be using the Warthog Kernel and be able to overclock your Touchpad. Start by opening Govnah from the Launcher. Then tap on Profile and Advanced Settings and then tap CPU Frequency. I set the governor to ondemand, the minimum frequency to 192 MHz, and the maximum frequency to 1.728 GHz. Hit Apply Settings. I change my I/O Scheduler from cfg to bfq. It’s something small to increase performance. After this you can close Govnah. There are also the F4 and F15C kernels which now both let you overclock to 1.9 GHz. I have found these both to be pretty unstable, most of the time causing the other core to turn off leaving you with half a processor, and don’t recommend them. But if you are adventurous, feel free to give them a try! A few other tweaks I recommend installing from preware are Unthrottle Download Manager, Ad Blocker, Increase Touch Sensitivity And Smoothness 10, and Private Browsing.

One more thing I want to talk about is watching video on the Touchpad. The tablet is very capable of playing mp4 video files, just like any other Android tablet or iPad. However, if you are like me, many of your movies are in other formats, like DivX. Some people recommend just downloading TouchPlayer from preware and being on your way. However TouchPlayer sadly isn’t very good at playing any of my videos. So what do I recommend? KalemSoft Media Player. There is a version of this in preware but it’s a broken version and will crash very hard when you try to open it. So to install it, download the ipk from http://www.kalemsoft.com/site/demos/com.kalemsoft.ksmplayera_0.3.7_tp.ipk and install it using that WebOS Quick Install program we downloaded earlier. Once installed, you should be able to run it from the Launcher and play a variety of different video formats. But what about Hulu? The Touchpad used to have a small knowing as the Hulu tablet as it could play Hulu out of the box from the web browser. On other tablets you would have to resort to paying for Hulu Plus. However after the firesale, Hulu started blocking video playback to the Touchpad’s browser. How? Hulu reads the version information on both the browser and flash player to make sure you are using a desktop computer. The Touchpad’s browser already reports as a desktop browser but the flash player reports as a mobile version, recently blocked by Hulu. In order to fix this, we need a version of flash player that reports back as desktop, but this is really easy to do. Just download Hulu Fix in preware and you are now able to watch Hulu videos.

You should now have a very capable tablet. Speedy and capable of some things other tablets can’t do. Go and use it to its full capability! Browse the web, watch some shows, downloads some apps, video chat with friends, all on your brand new tablet.

Thanks to Jon Temple!

23 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! Next time you do one of these bits let me know and I’ll tweak the theme to an off-yellow to complete the XDA experience.

    Hey, would anyone be interested in making a lifelong annually recurring wager with me, $50 to me for each year Apple has at least 50% of the US tablet market and $50 to you for each year they have less than 50% until at least one of us dies?

    I’ll have to run that one by the wife before I lock myself into such a deal with anyone first, but just want to see first if there are any potential takers so that I don’t agitate her for nothing, like all you cocksure W8 dreamers or you no-one-stays-at-the-top-forever types.

    PM me!

  2. arg! wtf wordpress. >_<

    i typed out what i was going to say twice and tried posting, but both times it didnt post… atleast this one was in my history:

    i would like to point out there was a few patches i didnt include in the guide. one is Faster Card Animations. some people say it improves the feeling of speed but i found the speed of some of the animations were to fast for some of the others and it really didnt feel sped up. another weird thing i noticed was web pages seems to pause while loading when i went into the card viewer. so i thought maybe installing No video pause on minimize would help. at first it seemed to but then i was still getting alot of pausing on load. and it seems video is still pausing, wtf!

    and also, i wouldnt be able to take that bet doug. the only reason to really buy an tablet is because its an ipad. and while i think the tablet market is dwindling down, ill loose enough money to buy my own ipad in that time.

  3. I’m really tempted Simmons, really tempted. Alas I need to make sure those OEM yahoos don’t overprice the coming tablets. I’m not paying a grand for a tablet no matter what it does.

    If i’m spending a grand i’m getting a full fledge laptop or hell i’ll just go to an iPad seeing how Microsoft will probably enable Office365 on the platform soon. I guarantee they are waiting to see if W8 tablets, excuse me-slates, takes off.

  4. I saw no less than 3 tablets at Bestbuy today that were priced well below $300… and when I asked if anyone buys them, the sales guy laughed. He said people come in, they look at the Tab, the xoom, the transformer, and a kindle. Then they buy an iPad.

  5. BTW, thanks for the guide guys… It’ll finally give me something to do with this silly touchpad… I haven’t even looked at it for over a week now..

  6. I’m loving my touch pad, I have a iPhone so really there is no need for me to have a limited iPad. Anyone used a good google reader app? I am having problems with the web version of it. I have seen some good suggestions for app readers but I must have the option for reverse chronological order since I like to read the oldest news first, I found that many apps on iOS do not support thus feature.

  7. i wouldnt say the touchpad is the one with the limits. putting number of apps aside, id be more inclined to say it was the ipad that had the limits. to be fair, they do both have their faults and its up to you to decide which is more appropriate for your use.

    as far as google reader, ive had this discussion with an ipad user. they both use mobile webkit browsers which just dont let you scroll frames correctly. sadly its android that has the google reader app. ive been told mosaic reader can read from your google reader, but i cant get it to do anything after it loads and i sign it. :\ i tried to get the mobile version of google reader to load but i havent had any success.

  8. Ha ha I should have clarified. I intend to dual boot when the android port becomes available. Also the main use for me for a tablet is going to be old console emulators. Did I mention how awesome it is to have flash when browsing, you don’t realize you miss it until you have it again. I don’t believe I am talking too much out of ignorance since I have owned an iPhone 4 since the beggining. For now I plan on sticking with it because it works so well as a phone. Still fighting that battle in my head though if I should try an android phone next.

  9. D-Money: Couple terms: if either of us becomes too senile or comatose it is not on our families to continue the annual exchange of fifties and I want an option reserved for both of us to buy ourselves out of the commitment for a grand.

    Is that agreeable to you? If so, peg the fiscal year and propose whose word to go by for the scoreboard (I suggest “prevailing consensus”) and we’re on.

  10. The bet is Apple having at least 50% of the tablet market in the US if I recall, though I didn’t specify if that meant of sales for the year or of the installed base or ad impressions on some network or whatever. Maybe you could arbitrate those blanks, provided the thousand dollar buyout I just laid down didn’t pussify the bet too much for D-Money.

  11. Installed the preware and added the feeds but then I got a long message about: Unable to run command:/usr/bin ipkg -/media/cryptofs/apps updat 2>&1 (a bunch of other stuff about downloading and available pkgs then ERROR: Command failed with return value 1: ‘wget — passif-ftp …….

    what did I do wrong?
    thanks

  12. Doug, if we bet installed base, then our bet is as of 2014 and beyond. If it is sales, then I will start with 2012.

  13. Among the things I want out of this bet is to “make it interesting” as soon as possible, IE not 2014 for the first round, and I think the proportion of iPads we see on the subway and wherever relative to other tablets is a more climactic tipping point than sales.

    You know that yours would be the less stupid side to bet on, that your side is basically you loaning me some money for a couple years and begin collecting interest in the thousands of percent. By 2014 the scale could too likely be decisively tipped in your favor, too likely I’d have buy out and give you a grand right out of the gate. And even if I’m winning, this won’t help me break my addiction to technology. Also why would I risk inviting myself an incentive to die to spare myself the grand buyout. In addition, were I ever to begin fighting with my wife down the line, if this weren’t the thing that precipitated the fight it might become a fixture of fights were she to bring up the list of irresponsible and stupid things I’ve done money-wise.

    Too much anxiety already over going forward and locking this in. I’m sorry but I’ve gotten cold feet on this.

  14. does Skype still work after the changes here?  I want to give one to my parents with Skype being a critical app.  Thx

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