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Checkpoint: HP TouchPad & Ice Cream Sandwich Edition

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I wasn’t sure what to write about today until I picked up my brother’s HP TouchPad that I recently installed Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) on. It’s amazing what competent software could do. If I had known this was the potential for the HP TouchPad, I would have picked one up at $100 last year.

Maybe not because it would sit unused once I got my iPad 3, but that’s not the point. Ice Cream Sandwich (CyanogenMod 9) — even in its early state — is a night and day difference from Gingerbread (CyanogenMod 7) which was also a night and day difference compared to WebOS. Just under six months after HP left it for dead, this device is finally living up to its hardware potential.

I cannot get over how incredibly smooth the experience is compared to CM7 and WebOS. The default web browsing experience is much better now with the inclusion of tabs and truly smooth zooming. There are a handful of issues including the lack of working Adobe Flash, but I’m sure it’ll be rectified in a few short weeks.

I haven’t gone in and tried out all the apps yet because of the lack of hardware acceleration and horrendous power management. Stepping out of the core web browsing experience quickly reminds me that this is still early.

As for ICS itself? It’s easily Google’s prettiest release yet. The default live wallpapers are subtle yet elegant and the icons and font are pleasing to the eye. However, most important of all, the little touches and redesigns in the menus make OS more user friendly and enjoyable to use.

The truly amazing thing to come out of this is the fact that the HP TouchPad has become one of the earliest Android 4.0 tablets available. It may not be an official release like with the Motorola Xoom, but I’ll take it.

Playing Batman: Arkham City has been been a mixed experience for me. I like the changes that were made since Batman: Arkham Asylum, but at the same time I’m looking at the map and sighing. Far too many distractions. More impressions in my review later one.

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