|Root Hacking the HP Touchpad Tablet PC|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 06 September 2011|
Page 1 of 2
Root Hacking the HP Touchpad Tablet PC
After HP discontinued the Touchpad and its other WebOS devices, they decided to sell out their remaining inventory at fire sale prices: $99 for the 16GB model and $149 for the 32GB model. The available units sold out within days; in fact, response was so strong that HP says they'll make one last production run of the Touchpad in October. If you were lucky enough to get a Touchpad, there are some simple things you can do to dramatically improve its performance, and Benchmark Reviews will explore them in this guide.
Since tablet computers are aimed at the consumer market, you won't find any of the tweaking options you'd expect to see in, say, a motherboard BIOS for a desktop PC. In fact most manufacturers go to some degree of trouble to lock you out of the internals of the machine, with the Apple iPad being the poster child for corporate control. To begin messing with the internals of a tablet, you must first "root" it: that is, gain "root access" to the system so that you can perform operations that are normally disabled or restricted.
The difficulty of this process varies. The iPad is the most difficult to root: there's no defined mechanism to do so, and Apple diligently works to disable the various mechanisms hackers find and exploit to root (or, in iPad parlance, "jailbreak") iPads and iPhones. Virtually every software update for the iPad and iPhone contains code to close another jailbreaking mechanism.
Android tablets are much easier to root: there are a number of "one-click" rooting tools that you simply download, install, and run to gain full root access.
But the HP Touchpad is the easiest tablet to root. You don't need to download or install anything; it can all be done directly, and quite simply.
There are several reasons you might want to root your tablet. The most common one is so you can install software other than what's available in the vendor's "application store". All tablet vendors have a supported "store" where you can buy vendor-approved applications: the Android Market for Android devices; Apple's App Store for the iPhone, iPod, and iPad, and the HP App Catalog for the HP Touchpad:
And that's our motivation for doing this. Since the Touchpad is a discontinued product, there are few applications for it in the HP App Catalog, and it's unlikely there will be many additions. Once you gain full control of the Touchpad, you'll be able to install other applications not in the App Catalog, such as software that disables some performance-robbing features, a hacked kernel that overclocks the processor, and so on. Of course all software must still be specifically written for the Touchpad: you won't be able to run iOS or Android applications.
And the Touchpad does need help. Despite having the fastest processor of any tablet (a dual-core ARM-based CPU running at 1.2GHz) and twice the memory of an iPad 2, the stock Touchpad is, well, sluggish: programs can take 5-10 seconds to launch, and the UI often lags fractionally behind your gestures, and animations can be slow and jerky. The iPad 2, with a slower CPU and half the memory, has a silky-smooth and ultra-responsive user interface, and programs launch instantly.
You can't make the Touchpad quite as slick and smooth as an iPad, but you can make it much better than stock. Let's get started!
Turning On Developer Mode
Our first step is enabling Developer Mode. Developer Mode is the Touchpad equivalent of "rooting" other platforms: it gives you full access to the system.
Step 1: Open the "Device Info" application under the launcher's "Settings" tab:
Step 2: Tap the menu (at the upper left) and select "Custom Application":
Step 3: You'll be prompted to enter the "Custom Application Code". Enter ##3386633#
As soon as you enter the last "#", you'll be taken to a screen where you can turn on Developer Mode, and optionally put a password on it. Just touch the blue button at the upper right of the screen to enable it.
With Developer Mode enabled, our options expand. The first thing to do is to install Preware, an application similar to HP's own HP App Catalog, except that it gives you access to lots of user-written software, instead of just things approved by HP. Caveat: As always, you should exercise judgement and discretion when installing software from unknown sources!