Thursday, July 28, 2011

HP TouchPad Review

HP TouchPad tablet (webOS)

I have used webOS (yes, the “w” is lowercase) since getting my Pre+ smartphone in February of 2010 and love it. webOS has always gotten great reviews from technology writers and reviewers, but Palm never marketed it correctly. HP bought Palm in April of 2010, mainly for webOS, and promised to go all out with the operating system. They just launched the Veer (a very small, but powerful, smartphone) and the TouchPad tablet and the Pre3 is on the way. They are heavily marketing webOS and the new devices and have even talked about using webOS on full computers. 

I bought the TouchPad on the early launch day, July 1st and love it! I had a chance to use one at HP's booth at ISTE11 and loved it. Having been a webOS user for the last 2 years, using the TouchPad required almost no learning curve. It’s a little thicker and heavier than the iPad2, but not noticeable to me (I’ve used an iPad2 before and held one at the Best Buy store and compared them). It’s black and nice and shiny, which shows finger prints, but HP includes a nice cloth to wipe off the fingerprints that every touchscreen device gets. Currently there is only a WiFi version, but 3G versions are planned. You can also tether the TouchPad to your smartphone. The suggested retail price is 16GB for $499.99 and 32GB for $599.99, but most retailers are offering deals or lower prices. If you already own a webOS phone, you can get a $50 rebate when you purchase a TouchPad.

webOS is really easy to use and very intuitive, using cards (like windows or tabs) to do true multi-tasking. Setting up the device was a breeze, especially since it connected to my Palm (now HP) profile where my Pre+ data and settings was synced to and automatically brought in my apps and connections. The profile can be used on more than one device so a school could set up one profile to keep all of the devices set up the same.

webOS and the TouchPad have some very cool features that make them very easy to use and very useful.

  • Technical Specs for the TouchPad:
    • webOS 3.0
    • 16GB or 32GB built in storage
    • 1.6 lbs, 0.54” thick x 9.45” long x 7.48” wide
    • Display - 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768 LCD capacitive touch (same as iPad2) - excellent viewing, even in sunlight
    • 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor paired with 1GB of RAM
    • 8-9 hours of battery life (continuous use - used mine on and off for three days without charging)
    • Micro USB port (for syncing files in USB drive mode or music using HP Play) and charging through the included charger (the Touchstone is a must-have accessory)
    • Front facing camera for video calls and video conferencing
    • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n radio, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR compatibility, a light sensor, accelerometer, compass, and gyro
    • Stereo speakers, headphone jack, power button, home button (can use gesture to get to home also), and volume buttons.
  • Virtual on-screen keyboard - easy to use, three sizes, and has a number row always visible.
  • There are thousands of apps for webOS and you can use the smartphone apps on the TouchPad. More apps come out every day. I can do everything I need to do. Amazon Kindle, QuickOffice, Facebook, Spaz (Twitter - similar to Tweetdeck), calendar, email, memos, Acrobat reader, Maps (Bing), Music, HP Movie Store, HP Play Music app, TapNote, Angry Birds, Pandora, Evernote, and much more.
  • Web browser supports Flash - and it works great. A huge number of website still use Flash and the browser lets you view these sites (unlike the iPad and iOS). This is important to me because many of the educational sites I use and virtual labs are Flash based. It’s also cool to watch YouTube videos on the YouTube page just like on your computer. It also allows you to watch Discovery Education Streaming videos right in your browser.
  • Google works - all of the Google applications I use work great in the browser including Docs, Blogger and Google+. No need for any special apps.
  • True Multi-tasking - webOS allows true multi-tasking using cards for each app (Iike a window). It’s extremely simple to view all open apps and select one or even close it using simple gestures. Apps run in the background just like on your PC. This makes it very easy to get work done and jump from app to app.

  • Synergy - syncs and brings together all your contacts from your email systems and even Facebook as well as your calendars.
  • - 50GB of free storage on
  • Messaging - natively supports Google Talk, AIM, Skype audio and video calls, Yahoo! Messenger and future third-party apps. TouchPad owners who also have a webOS smartphone can send and receive text messages from the application as well.
  • QuickOffice - view and edit office documents using QuickOffice. Links directly to Dropbox also.
  • Accessories
    • case with cover that folds as a support (similar to the iPads)
    • Touchstone charger - very cool - wireless charging - simply set your TouchPad (or webOS phone) on the Touchstone and it starts charging using inductive charging technology. It also automatically displays different things based on your selection, such as a clock or your agenda. I have it set as a clock on my desk


    • Wireless keyboard - connect via Bluetooth to the TouchPad. Set your TouchPad on the TouchStone charger and use the keyboard or bring the keyboard with you.
  • Email - allows multiple accounts, including Gmail and Exchange, and you can view all your inboxes together or separately.
  • Print wirelessly to compatible HP Printers
  • Large developer base and homebrew community. HP embraces “jailbreaking” which isn’t actually needed - and homebrew developers.
  • Notifications - notifications are unobtrusive and appear at the top of the screen. They do not interrupt what you are doing. Email, Facebook notifications, Twitter, and many other apps use the notification system.

  • Just Type - just type on the main screen and it will search your apps, contacts, web history and Google for what you are looking for. You can even start an email or open othe apps from it.
  • Beats Audio - the TouchPad has Beats Audio which is a very impressive audio system. The built-in stereo speakers are excellent, but it sounds even better on your headphones.
  • Entertainment - TV shows, movies, and more through Hulu, HBO on the Go and more.
  • Connect to your webOS smartphone - the TouchPad can connect to your Veer or Pre3 (or other webOS smartphones) and you can access your text messages and even make phone calls on your TouchPad. Leave your phone on your charger and just use the TouchPad.
  • Touch to Share - just touch the Veer or Pre3 to the Touchpad and transfer what you were doing from one device to the other. For instance,  you are looking up directions or information on your TouchPad and then want to head out the door and leave the TouchPad at home. Just touch the phone to the TouchPad and transfer the website over to the phone.
  • Butler Service - free 90-day HP webOS Butler Service to help you setup and use your device.

Educational Use:
webOS is easy to use and allows multitasking. The browser supports Flash and works great with Google and other web apps. The TouchPad is sturdy and well built. There are tons of apps. Updates are done over the air so you don’t need to plug it into a computer. It Works Like Nothing Else. I really is a great device for education.

Best Resource for Everything webOS: - resources, reviews, tips, community forum, and much more.

Conclusion - I love webOS and think it is truly the best mobile operating system around. The TouchPad is pretty awesome and allows me to do everything I need to do with a computer, whether work, school, or fun. I highly recommend it as a tablet and I highly recommend checking out the Veer and Pre3 as smartphones. (I wrote this article in Google Docs and then posted it on Blogger all from my TouchPad).

Check out this in-depth review of the TouchPad for more:

Check out this series of articles about a person who is only using a TouchPad for everything (since his house was burglerized and his laptop and TV were stolen).

Related Articles:
7 Ways the TouchPad burns the iPad
Most used Apps on my Palm Pre+ and What I use them for
Educational Apps for webOS
HP Announces three new webOS devices
Analysis of webOS vs. iOS (iPhone)
HP Buys Palm - What could that mean for education?
Review of Palm Pre+ and Pixi+

(Disclaimer - I did NOT receive any compensation from HP for this review).


HP cancelled the TouchPad within a couple of months of launch and put it on a fire sale. Those of us that purchased it at full price ($499 - $599) were able to get a refund for the difference. The 32GB version was on sale for $149 and the 16GB at $99. (They have also cancelled the Veer and Pre3 smart phones and are open-sourcing webOS).

Purchasers who already owned a Palm webOS phone also got a $50 rebate and $50 in free apps, so my 32GB TouchPad only had an effective cost of $50. Not bad for a pretty awesome device.

There are not a lot of apps for the TouchPad, but it can run webOS phone apps, which there were a few thousand of, has a browser that can view Flash, and has some great apps available.

It can do everything I want it to. RSS Reader, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Kindle app, office files with QuickOffice, web browsing, access all my Google apps, listen to music, and more. The Splashtop Remote Desktop app allows me to connect to my computer using my TouchPad and anything I could do on my computer, I can do on the TouchPad. This easily makes up for the lack of apps. I was watching Netflix on my TouchPad today and there is no app. I was using Splashtop Remote to access it on my computer.

I've also installed Preware, which is rooting or jailbraking, but encouraged by HP/Palm, not restricted. With Preware, I've installed a bunch of homebrew apps and patches that have made the TouchPad even better by optimizing the OS and speeding up the processor (to 1.5 GHz). It also has a save and restore app so that if HP ever shuts down the Synergy system, webOS users are all set.

I've used it in meetings and at conferences to take notes, access the internet and much more. I read books, watch movies, surf the web, access social networking, check my email, stay organized with my Google Tasks and Google Calendar (which are kept in sync with my Google account and on my Android smartphone), play some very cool games (including Angry Birds) and much more.

So, even though the device was cancelled, there is very little app support, and HP is not doing much with the software (besides open sourcing it), it is a great device. webOS is awesome and still has the best multi-tasking and notifications (better than Android or iOS5) and between the available apps, web browser and Splashtop remote, it does everything I need it to do.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Differentiating Using 21st Century Tools

Differentiating Using 21st Century Tools is a site created by an educator that has resources and information for using technology and new tools for differentiating in the classroom.

There are some great ideas for using tools like Google apps, blogs, wiki's and more in the classroom as well as information on differentiating and how to differentiate teaching and learning in the classroom. 

This is a great resource for all educators.

Related Articles:

Curiosity - from Discovery Education

Curiosity is a new site from Discovery Education that I really like. There is a show that goes along with it, but I haven't had a chance to view it yet.

The site has a huge amount of information and resources on a large variety of topics. You can search by topic or keyword for information. You can also submit a question about something you are curious about and then the answer, with links and other resources, will be posted (or something pretty darn close). They will email you when your question is answered. Many of the answers are from Discovery Education resources, but many are not. It's a great site for teachers to use to find out things, or let your students use it to discover new things and ask questions. Let them ask what every they are interested in and then have them do a project on it.

Related Articles

Top 10 Resources from Discovery Education - all free

Training Resources for Discovery Education tools and apps

Google for Education resources from ISTE11


Google has some awesome, free resources for educators to use. I use iGoogle, Blogger, Google Sites, Google Docs, Calendar, Gmail, and much more as an educator and with my students. Google had a big presence at ISTE11 and there were some great presentations and resources on using Google Apps in Education. This site has a list of the presentations and links to the resources. If you use Google or are thinking about it, this is a great place to start.

Google Apps for Education at ISTE11

Related Articles:
Google for Educators
iGoogle as an organizational tool for Educators
Google Apps for Education - Guide to Going Google
Google Calendar
Google Mobile Apps

We Are Teachers - great resource for educators

We Are Teachers is a great site for educators that has links, resources, tips, ideas, contests, grants, and much more for educators.

The site includes a community forum to discuss educational ideas, topics, and issues with other educators, as well as share resources. There is also a blog with some great tips and resources, lesson plans, classroom management tips and much more.

Check it out and share it with your colleagues.

CTEduOnline - career and technical education resources

CTEduOnline is a site that provides information and resources for career and technical education. It has links, videos, apps, and much more, including examples of 21st century teaching and learning strategies.

There are some good ideas on the site for all teachers to add to their toolbox.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Slidestaxx - create amazing social media slideshows


Slidestaxx is a free service I recently learned about from my PLN on Twitter. Slidestaxx lets you take media from multiple sources and turn them into a slideshow that you can share on Slidestaxx, a website, or your blog. You can add pictures, videos, links and more. You can annotate each element also.

There are examples on the site to show you some ideas. It is a really fun, powerful way to create presentations.

Related Articles:

Knovio - create online presentations easilly

Smilebox Slideshow - free software to create slideshows of your photos

Present me - easy way to record and share presentations

Desmos - create media rich educational content online

PhotoPeach - easily create and share photo slideshows

Prezi - the zooming presentation editor

Popplet - online presentation, mindmapping, and bulletin board

FileStork - request files from anyone using Dropbox

Dropbox is one of those services (free) I use all the time. I have my important files backed up to Dropbox and synced between my home computer and school computer. I can also access these files from any web browser and my smartphone and tablet. I was using a service ( in the past to have students send files to my Dropbox, but it shut down. Now there is a new one.

FileStork is a free service that allows you to request files from people right into your Dropbox. This is a great way to collect work from students or files from colleagues.

It is easy to use. You simply send a request to someone via email, or set up a standing link that users can use. They click on the link (emailed or standing) and then upload their files. The files are then available to you in your Dropbox. You can even limit what kinds of files you will allow them to upload.

If you use Dropbox, FileStork is a great service to use. If you don't use Dropbox, check it out!

Related Articles:

AirDropper - request a file from anyone - into your Dropbox

Apps that work with Dropbox

DROPitTOme - receive files to your inbox

Cloud File Storage, Sync, Backup

HP's Cloud Computing Digital Hub hosted by Tech&Learning

HP Cloud Computing header v2

Tech&Learning, a great, free, resource for educators, hosts HP's Cloud Computing Digital Hub. This site has free resources, eBooks, and other information about cloud-based infrastructures in K-12 Education.

The resources include planning guides, how-to's and tips, what the cloud is and how it can benefit education, case studies and how cloud computing can transform education and save money at the same time. There is even a way to experience the cloud through an interactive demo.

It is well worth the read.

Knovio - create online presentations easily

Knovio is a new service that allows you to easily create online presentations. It is currently in private beta, but you can request access from their main page. It is free to use and lets you turn PowerPoint slides into video presentations in your browser with no hardware or video software needed. All you need is a webcam and microphone.

Knovio is very easy to use. It takes 3 steps to create and share your presentation online. First, you create and then upload your PowerPoint presentation to the site. Then you record the video of you doing the presentation with the slides, and then you share the finished product.

Related Articles:

Present me - easy way to record and share presentations

Desmos - create media rich educational content online

PhotoPeach - easily create and share photo slideshows

Prezi - the zooming presentation editor

Google Docs viewer supports viewing ZIP and RAR files

Google Docs viewer is a handy tool that lets you view different files directly in your browser, including email attachments and online documents. Earlier this year the Google Docs viewer added even more file formats that it can handle. Instead of downloading a file to your computer to view it, you can simply view it in your browser. This is especially handy when you just want to view a file and not have it sitting on your hard drive.

Google Docs Viewer can now also view the contents of a ZIP or RAR file. You can view the files that are inside the ZIP or RAR archive and even download individual files.

This is a very handy feature that I have already used a few times.


Google Tutor - Viewing ZIP and RAR Files Using Google Docs


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