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:
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!