Earlier this year, I repaired and updated my HP TouchPad with the latest firmware I could find. I have used it regularly since for numerous tasks and even tried to shoe horn it into other tasks to see if it would improve my workflow. Was all that effort worth it? Did I really need to take the time to fix and update a device long past it’s end of life date? Here is what I can tell you about its usage.
Issues with the HP TouchPad
It’s old and a bit slow, really but it has a fantastic screen, especially since it is 7 years old. My expectations are not real high for its reliability but overall, it has surprised me. Every so often, the thing will lock up and shut down but I haven’t been able to determine the cause, just random fluke.
Updating The HP TouchPad
Unfortunately this process isn’t automatic but, it isn’t exactly difficult. Really, if you have done this much to your HP TouchPad, this shouldn’t be that much of an issue. The latest firmware can be downloaded from here, which is the same source for firmware I used earlier this year. To install the update, it required a reboot into the bootloader and install it from there. There were no issues installing the update.
Unfortunately, this is an older version, LineageOS 11 which is still Android version 4.4.4. It doesn’t appear to be a problem for the applications I am using.
There are several basic applications I use on a regular basis. They work great and I use them reliably on a near daily basis. Outside of the vanilla LineageOS applications, these are what I have installed to enhance the capabilities of this Tablet.
For the media player controls over my main machine. I use this often to start and stop media I use for helping in Home Education as well as a remote control over the living room computer so I can stop the Netflix. Great for those Saturday mornings when the kids need to take a break from relaxing and knock out some chores. Also, very conveniently, copying text to the clipboard on the computer or the tablet will allow me to share its contents back and forth. So, I can copy a URL from the computer and paste it into the browser, sit and read the page on the couch as if I were curled up with a good book.
Only synchronizing the “Default Folder” as I don’t take pictures with this so the “Camera” folder which I don’t use on this common share. The primary purpose is to quickly share something with the tablet, like a PDF or a screenshot from my Linux machine for convenient portability.
My new favorite file manager on Android. It is reminiscent of the “Midnight Commander” file manager from times
Fennec F-Droid Web Browser
This is a build of Firefox for Android that works very nicely
A fine little application to view PDFs. Probably the most used application on this tablet as I do reference a lot of PDFs
For viewing “office documents” that are not PDFs. I have used it for the open formats as well as the proprietary office formats of which we are all so familiar.
To so much for writing messages as reading messages. I don’t really enjoy the touch screen keyboard as compared to the real thing but I’ll use it in a pinch.
All of these applications are available through F-Droid. Updates are convenient enough but you will have to approve the permissions of the updates of each application individually.
I primarily use this tablet as a document viewing device: PDFs, Office Documents and images. I also use it for casual web browsing, as a second screen for displaying a reference when I am away from my Cubicle. I have a very convenient inductive charger for the tablet called the HP Touchstone Charger that allows me to just set the tablet in it, with the case and it will just charge. No fiddling with the Micro USB cable to get the thing to charge. It is an incredibly convenient accessory for this tablet. I can’t help but wonder if there are other tablets so nicely designed. It really is as if HP really thought through the design of this tablet very well.
This 7 year old tablet is still a fantastic piece of hardware. I still think that if this machine were to be running a full fledged Linux Desktop, it would be much more useful and possibly run more efficiently. I am a bit concerned that I cannot find a well functioning, more modern version of Android which is why I am increasingly more interested in a more open Linux OS for it.
For as long as this device lasts, I will continue to get squeeze every penny of use out of it. When it does finally give up, I will miss it as it has been an incredibly useful tool that has made daily life just a bit easier.