Tag Archives: hp

HP TouchPad, Part Two: Hardware

Let’s be honest here: as many have said time and time again, there is no tablet market, only an iPad one. For reasons unbeknownst to myself, I (still) don’t own an iPad. It’s not that I don’t want one, it’s that an iPad is a pretty sizeable outlay1 for a product that has an unknown usage ratio. Irrespective of the reason I don’t (yet) own an iPad, I do own just one tablet; the HP TouchPad.

After what can only be described as a particularly enthralling acquisition saga, it was time to delve into the TouchPad itself, and — perhaps more importantly — its operating system, webOS.

The TouchPad is a pretty basic tablet, really. No fancy bells or whistles here. It looks almost exactly like the original iPad does, only with a few more curves at the edges instead of the bevelled edge of the iPad 1, and with a few side ornaments re-arranged.

If you’re holding it in the correct portrait orientation (home button on the bottom of the face of the device), the speakers are on the left hand side. Yeah, speakers, as in plural: the TouchPad features two speakers with Beats(TM) audio. I’m not entirely sure whether the Beats(TM) audio is a hardware thing or a software one — perhaps even a combination of both — although my suspicion leans towards the latter, due to the presence of a toggle in Sound preferences to turn Beats(TM) audio on or off. In any case, the resultant audio emanating from those tiny but stereo speakers is pleasant enough, even above-average. Like all small speakers, they lack only in any real bass; more than capable of getting the job done, certainly, but no aural pleasure device. I wouldn’t go so far as I call the sound quality of the TouchPad “tinny”, but it’s definitely nothing to write home about.

The rest of the TouchPad is pretty standard: there’s a sleep/wake switch on the top right just like the iPad, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top left, also just like the iPad. On the right side (when held in the correct portrait position as before), there’s even a volume rocker, just like the iPad. Notably absent from the TouchPad is a physical silent switch.

What’s interesting is that the side with the volume rocker has an equal-spaced slot on the bottom part of the device. Pushing the slot in pops out some little sliding tray — presumably this is the SIM card tray for the mythical 4G version of the TouchPad that never saw the light of day (officially, anyway).

Moving on to the front of the device: up the top you’ve got a truly mediocre front-facing camera (that, somewhat surprisingly, ranks in at 1.3 on the megapixel scale), something Apple didn’t think about putting in the iPad until the second version. A peanut-sized “home” button (which actually glows when you’ve got new notifications on the device, acting as a notification LED — something no iOS device has) and a 9.7-inch, 1024×768 resolution LED-backlit IPS display (pretty much identical to the display on the first iPad) round out the front of the most discontinued tablet with the shortest availability period by the company with more misdirection than not you’ve never seen.

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HP TouchPad, Part One: Acquisition

Part one of a two or three-part series on the HP TouchPad and webOS

If only HP weren’t one of the biggest names in tech. If only the right hand knew what the left hand was up to at HP. If only one of the most notable tech companies had a bit more direction, if only the tech giant had a little more vision, if only their major decisions weren’t seemingly decided by a roll of a d20 die. Maybe if they weren’t under the leadership of someone who wasn’t the best fit for the job.

If only, if only, if only.

If only HP had any idea what they were doing, then I might not have been able to experience (the really quite stellar at times) webOS.

I, of course, refer to the HP TouchPad, the second of two HP products in as many months. Only the TouchPad is a little different: it’s not insanely discounted like the MicroServers were, it’s actually discontinued, and HP were getting rid of them altogether in a never-to-be-repeated fire sale. $98 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version, and $148 for the $32GB.

My story starts on a bus, like so many do. I was reading on one particular website about how HP Australia were also going to get in on the TouchPad fire sale action – you see, by this time the sales in the US had been going swimmingly for at least a few days after HP pulled the plug, and HP Aust apparently thought it a good idea to get a slice of this pie, too.

Anyway, I was on a bus (after handing in an assignment, I believe) reading about how the sole retailer of HP TouchPads in Australia were Harvey Norman, the electronics and basically-everything-else franchise, and about how they had been told by HP Australia that they were to sell it off, starting at 2pm. I made two short phone calls to two Harvey Norman stores in my area, who, naturally, had no idea what I was going on about, nor had they received any communication from higher up about any fire sale.

I got off the bus in town, and hurriedly told a colleague that the TouchPad fire sale was about to go down. We both agree that it’s a pretty fantastic deal for the money, and after i tell him I’m heading to HN to take a look around, he urges me to buy one for him — at this time it was about 1:30, perhaps 1:40pm, and I was still vaguely skeptical that this fire sale would even happen in little old Hobart. I walk the few blocks to the nearest Harvey Norman… only to e greeted with a line about 6 or so deep (nerds, every single one of them, with a few suits for good measure). “Is this the line for the HP TouchPad?” was met with excited grins and nods, taps on noses. Bingo.

1:50pm, and a HN employee comes and confirms that they will indeed be selling the HP TouchPad at the advertised prices. Cue sigh of relief from all the nerds in the queue, yours truly included. I begin working out whether I’ve got enough cash in my bank account for two TouchPads.

1:55pm, and a HN employee comes to tell us that there’s only a few 16GB models but plenty of 32GB stock. He also confirms that there’s a limit of one per customer; good news for me as I can now probably afford the 32GB model, but not-so-great news for my colleague who might miss out. I quickly call him and deliver the news. By this time the line is easily tens of people deep; not bad for good old’ Slobart, hey?

Fifteen minutes later, and I’m out the door. $148 poorer but with a pretty big grin on my face. A small rendezvous with my colleague reveals he sprinted the few blocks to the HN store after getting my call and managed to score himself a 32GB model, just like me.

His grin is just as large, too.

HP MicroServer

There’s been a few phonomena sweeping the wider Australian tech community of late, and I just wanted to tell you about one that I managed to get in on.

The HP MicroServer.

Officially part of the the HP ProLiant MicroServer series, the N36L is a small box with a whole lot of potential and even more potential. Officially, it’s designed to satisfy the storage requirements of small to medium businesses by providing them with easy, expandable storage in a convenient form factor. Officially, the base configuration comes with four non-hot-swappable drive bays for 3.5″ drives, a dual-core 1.3GHz AMD Athlon II Neo processor, 1GB of ECC RAM, and a stock 250GB drive to get you started.

Unofficially, the MicroServer is the best piece of tech I’ve bought in recent memory — and as my parents, friends, and even the local postie will tell you, I buy quite a bit of tech.

It all started when I was reading a thread about it on one of my favourite forums. Forum member Brains posted up a deal a HP reseller were running that offered one of these MicroServer machines in the base config for a bit more than $200. Long story short: I put an order through with that reseller, waited a while, eventually received an email saying stock was delayed, waited a little longer only to be rewarded with another “stock delayed” email a few weeks later. By that time HP themselves were offering the original deal for the second time ($199 delivered to my door), so I requested a refund with the reseller and placed an order with HP. A few more weeks later, and the MicroServer arrived. Now the only question that remained was what the hell I was going to do with it.

Up until now I’ve been storing all my media on individual drives. Buy a drive, stick it in my PC, share it over the network, and fill it up. Rinse, repeat. This scheme worked pretty well for a while, but I knew I couldn’t keep it up forever (I was fast running out of SATA ports), plus there were many aspects of this storage system I wasn’t quite happy with. For one, my PC uses about ~200W on idle; leaving it overnight is just asking for a lecture about power bills. Downloading stuff overnight can be done by my Mac, but even that isn’t optimal.

So, what I am doing with my MicroServer? First and foremost: it’s a storage box, my very own NAS. I’ve filled it with 4x 3TB drives, maxed out the memory with 2x 4GB sticks of ECC RAM, and added in my own 500GB drive in addition to the stock 250GB that comes with it for a total of six drives.

In terms of software, it’s currently running those drives in a software RAID 5 under Ubuntu 11.04 with the help of mdadm for RAID management, giving me roughly 8.5TB of usable space after file system formats and what ever else. I’m currently serving the array across the network using SMB, and I get decent enough transfer speeds across my Gigabit network, roughly 75Mb/s stable.

But wait, there’s more!

It’s also currently serving a Deluge daemon accessible though a web user interface, running a SABNZB+ instance also accessible through a web UI for Usenet downloads, leveraged by Sick Beard, and finally, because all my media is now in the one spot, on a machine that stays on 24/7, a Plex/Nine installation so I can access stuff from my iOS devices (the dual-core seems to transcode 6mbps 1080p streams on-the-fly just fine).

Oh, and it’s also hosting a temporary Minecraft server for myself and a few friends.

All this on a machine that uses about 40W idle, even when loaded up with 6 drives and 8 times the amount of original RAM? Like I said, the HP MicroServer is one of my best tech purchases yet; it perhaps wasn’t all that cheap after all the upgrades, but still cheaper than a Drobo or similar 4-bay NAS boxes, and quite a bit more capable. I’ve heard other people that have also had success with putting Solaris on it for ZFS, FreeNAS for something a little more lightweight (but still equally as capable), and some other, slightly crazier dudes running all sorts of ESXi virtualised environments, stuffing 4x 2.5″ drives in the optical drive bay, putting RAID cards in them, and even taking a dremel to their machines in order to stuff yet another 3.5″ drive below the optical bay.

Me? I’m not quite so serious, but my little MicroServer still does everything I want it to do.

Expect a few more posts on this in the coming days, and let me know if you have any other questions. Further reading to get you started: the insanely long thread on Overclockers Australia about it.

This post part of Blogtober 2011, just a little thing of mine where I (attempt to) post something up on my blog every day in October 2011.

What I don’t like about the Dell Venue Pro

Selling off my HTC 7 Mozart and going back to my loaner Venue Pro (portrait WP7 slider) made me finally realise why I don’t like it: it has a curved screen.

The curve on the Venue Pro is convex, meaning that it’s got a very slight bulge outwards; exactly the opposite of what you really want on a display. When the iPhone 4 came out, many tech pundits harped on about how the glass on top of the display was fused to the LCD underneath, and how that made the content appear that much closer to your finger whenever you touched it.

The Venue Pro is the opposite; the horizontally-convex (that is, bulged outwards in the middle and less so at each side) display means that content feels further away from your fingertips, which makes for a weird touchscreen experience. On a display that already feels sub-par, it’s exactly what you do not want.


Heaps of posts upcoming. There’s something special coming up very, very, soon, and then there’s the big ol’ MicroServer write-up I might do, oh, and a HP TouchPad review-slash-webOS extravaganza somewhere in the middle. I wouldn’t expect the TouchPad review until early October, and the MicroServer sometime after that. Uni will get really busy really soon, and doubly so for me, procrastinator extraordinaire.

HP computers are racist

The face tracking feature of the HP web cam will not recognize or track black faces.

via YouTube – HP computers are racist.

This is pretty funny – you’d have to wonder how they’d code such software that only worked on white (that is, not-black) faces. You’d think that face detection software would work on blacks and whites, but apparently not.

UPDATE: HP responded. Here’s how to create software that is racist:

We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting.