WebOS. The mobile OS that I and everyone else had long left for dead, including HP after they finally killed it off. Even opening WebOS up as open source didn’t help, as even that community seems to have mostly moved on. But now, it looks like somebody actually wants to find a use for the mobile-OS-that-could(n’t): LG’s bought the rights to WebOS from HP.
LG plans on using WebOS to produce its line of “smart TVs” (TVs with app/Internet functionality built-in). It still plans on keeping it open-source, however. There doesn’t seem to be any indication of whether the Palm name itself is also now owned by LG.
It’s nice to see that somebody’s found a use for WebOS, especially long after it flopped on smartphones and tablets. I’m not too sold on the idea of a smart TV, myself; for me, a TV should be just that, with such online/app functionality in an external box (like the Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, etc.) that one can swap out (or repair) without also losing the TV. I’d also be concerned about software updates/maintenance. I suppose it’s for similar reasons I never warmed in the 1990s and 2000s to CRT TVs with built-in VCRs/DVD players.
As the subject line says, I’ve finally gotten a newer laptop to replace the trusty-but-aging (and wearing out) HP Pavilion dv6-1230us I bought at an OfficeDepot three years ago this month.
The replacement? An HP Pavilion m6-1045dx (yes, HP loves its model numbering), which Engadget mentions here. While it’s being sold as a back-to-school type item, I’m sure it’ll serve me quite well. The specs include 8GB RAM, a 750GB (5400 RPM) hard drive, 15.6″ screen, an i5 processor (“i5-3210M,” running at 2.5Ghz), and a backlit keyboard. It also weighs 5.3 pounds (2.4 kg), a full pound (0.5 kg) lighter than the old model. This will make carrying this laptop on trips much easier.
The m6 is meant to be a new model in the HP series, aimed in this case at being something halfway between an ultrabook (such as the HP Envy series) and a conventional laptop (like the dv6 series). Thus, the m6 is fairly thin and light, yet still has an optical drive. It also looks a bit like a MacBook Pro from a distance, with a brushed aluminum lid and chiclet keyboard.
As for why I didn’t go with the Lenovo ultrabook, besides that the HP has better specs and was on sale at Best Buy for $100 less, I didn’t like the lengthy wait Lenovo’s website listed for receiving one of their IdeaPads (“over 4 weeks”). That said, I ended up ordering the HP off Best Buy’s website, as none of the stores in town had any left in stock.
The move from Xubuntu to Linux Mint
About the second part of the subject line, I had some problems with Xubuntu 12.04 on this laptop: namely, hard freezes when I did certain things, such as copying files from an external hard drive or importing photos into programs. Thus, I thought I’d give Linux Mint 13 Xfce (which is Ubuntu-based) a go, especially since it’d save me the trouble of having to reinstall all my favorite programs anyway. ALong with an issue with Mint’s installer apparently getting confused by some Xubuntu menu elements being left over (despite doing a clean install), Mint also had hard freezes, until I found an apparent solution to the freezing: deleting the “.thumbnails” hidden directory from the /home directory. (I also turned off a Bluetooth applet from loading, just in case that was also causing problems/since I don’t use Bluetooth.) Since then, everything seems to be working well enough. I’ll stick with Mint for now, and will report on any further Mint developments.
Yes, I have the obligatory photos of the laptop, taken on my smartphone (excuse the quality).
And for the first time, a homeshot video (on my smartphone) of the unboxing. Keep in mind I’m not an experienced camcorder (or smartphone video recorder) user, nor at unboxing videos, but thought others might like to see such anyway. And yes, I turned comments on YouTube off. While I greatly appreciate your thoughts, blog readers, there’s no need for the YouTube idiot brigade to post off-topic/offensive remarks.
To keep up the tech side of things on the blog, I thought I’d post my progress on looking for a newer laptop.
Now that Ivy Bridge-powered gear is finally being released, I’m ready to actually buy a replacement for this one (a three-year-old HP laptop that’s worked well, but I want something newer). So far, the main brands I’m considering are: Lenovo, particularly the IdeaPad line; HP; and Dell. The last one I’m more skittish about, given my negative experience with a refurbished Dell laptop several years ago (and Dell’s tech support).
The main models I’m considering, based on articles I’ve read on various tech sites (Engadget, etc.):
HP: HP plans to release in mid-June or so various Ivy Bridge updates across the line, plus redesigns to their existing models. Since the current HP laptop’s worked fine, HP’s in the running for consideration.
Lenovo: While initially announced last winter, the IdeaPad U310 (14″) and U410 (15″) ultrabooks were once more announced several days ago. The pictures and specs (and pricing) sound right, even if the screen’s 1366×768. While I know the resolution (despite being the only one offered for most non-high end laptops) is now considered low end, I’m not up in arms about it like others online. Lenovo’s website lists the models as “coming soon,” with no availability date yet.
Dell: Dell seems to be rolling out its Ivy Bridge updates across its laptop line. While I didn’t want to leave Dell out of the running this time around, I admit I’m favoring HP or Lenovo more. Also, I’m still haunted by the negative Dell experience from 2009. (Ironically, my Dell desktop from 2007 still works well, currently as my mother’s computer.)
As noted before, my main uses will be running Linux, writing, online stuff (including updating/maintaining this blog), and general multimedia, including ripping my own DVDs.
Which model will I (or should I) go with? If anyone has any input, feel free to let me know.
The main games I’ve been playing have been “Marvel vs. Capcom 3″ and “Fable III,” though more the former in the last few days, particularly for its online game-playing options (via Xbox Live). Playing online, however, has proven to be extremely tough—either I’ve gotten rusty (from not playing the Marvel/Capcom games much since the 90s), my mediocre video game playing skills are to blame, or the online players have way more practice. That, or they’re using some turbo/cheat codes feature. I still haven’t downloaded Halo: Reach yet, but I’ll get around to it.
Speaking of downloads, I’ve also decided to give Netflix’s streaming feature a try. The Xbox 360 supports streaming Netflix, so thought it might be worth trying. I’m disappointed that Netflix’s website doesn’t seem to offer a way to see what films/TV shows are available via the streaming side without registering for it first. Maybe part of the reason why I’ve also considered just dropping Netflix altogether. Either way, there’s still RedBox/the public library for DVDs, for less than what I’m paying for Netflix’s two-DVDs-at-a-time plan now.
Microsoft has also released an update a few days ago for the Xbox, updating its dashboard with its tile-based Metro interface, per its current push at cross-platform UI unity. While I’m not a big fan of Microsoft’s GUIs, the update does have some advantages over the old one (which, only having used it for a week, I didn’t have time to get attached to unlike some disgruntled Xbox users online): Bing is now offered as a search engine, while the various items are categorized by “video,” “music,” etc. I still don’t have streaming video from my laptop set up, but I’m still doing research.
On an unrelated note to the above comes news that HP plans to open up WebOS as open-source, hoping others might take advantage of using the now-dead mobile OS. While HP should’ve considered this a lot sooner, I hope that WebOS being freely available means its best parts will be taken advantage of by other mobile OSes (Android particularly). Or even better, that WebOS itself gets a second shot at life, and at app developer support.
The online tech world still mourns (sort of) the passing of WebOS… with everyone and their brother giving their two cents on why WebOS failed. Here’s some of the aftermath of this week’s WebOS-axing announcement:
PC World has this article on the five features they hope won’t die with WebOS. Maybe some other company could buy/make use of the intellectual property rights for the various aspects of WebOS (though not use the actual OS itself)?
And finally, the expected fire sale begins: HP is now selling the 16GB TouchPad for the low price of US$99, while the 32GB model will go for US$149. Ironically, the TouchPads are now flying off the shelves, as people are snatching up the chance at a bargain-priced tablet. Still, I’m not sure how useful a tablet with a discontinued OS will be, per the need for bugfixes/security updates/etc., plus the continued lack of apps that helped kill WebOS in the first place. In my case, I still have my rooted Nook Color to read comics and ebooks on. Plus, there’s no Comixology app (and from what I recall, no comic-reader apps) for WebOS, so I’m not interested in the TouchPad, even at $100.
Looks like the fat lady’s finally sung for WebOS, after this week’s already-disastrous news about Best Buy wanting HP to take its TouchPads back: not only does HP plan to sell off its PC manufacturing side to focus on just software/services, but they’ve also decided to kill off the TouchPad (this year’s biggest tech flop) and WebOS based smartphones. While they claim to be investigating possible future uses for the OS, I’d say WebOS is now deader than Elvis in terms of a future. (Ars Technica has more on today’s HP news here.)
As long-time readers of this blog know, I was fairly enthusiastic about WebOS as an operating system at first, and still view it as a nicely designed, slick looking OS. It was also my first “real” smartphone, and the first I signed a contract for (I was using prepaid Virgin Mobile dumbphones beforehand). I was enthusiastic about the first-generation Palm Pre I bought, and though I had some doubts even then about whether I should go with WebOS over the then-burgeoning Android, at the time (October 2009) I didn’t think Android was polished enough, so I went with the Pre.
Since then, having a smartphone was one of the best purchasing decisions I’ve made, as it’s made many things in my life a lot easier (bus schedule information; an aid on my trips out of town; a portable electronic calendar/notebook; etc.). For that much (and the pleasantness of WebOS), I’ll be grateful. However, the flaws of the Pre soon became too big to ignore—the awful hardware for one, and the lack of support for the OS for another (aka few apps; there’s a reason WebOS has a strong homebrew community). Also not helping were the various other stumbles for WebOS and Palm since late 2009 (the lousy advertising campaign; the sale of Palm to HP, who also stumbled on handling WebOS; etc.), or the explosive growth in Android’s popularity since then. (And yes, my “WebOS shall live on” comments in that last link are quite ironic in retrospect.)
Several months ago, I finally had enough with the phone, and decided to look into an Android phone (Android having greatly improved since late 2009). After some deliberation (and deciding not to wait until August, when my Sprint contract would let me buy a newer phone), I decided to jump to Sprint’s prepaid subsidiary, Virgin Mobile, and bought an Android-based LG Optimus V. Thanks to Android, the phone’s been even more useful than even the Pre was, not to mention the amount of money saved by going back to prepaid. Thus, I haven’t looked back at WebOS since…
And now today’s news; guess I jumped ship just in time. So long, WebOS… it was (for awhile) fun.
PS: HP’s also looking to spin off their PC manufacturing division, just as I’m considering buying a new laptop in 2012. Given I’m not sure if buying another HP laptop during such a transition period’s a good idea, I might be looking at other laptop brands—Lenovo? Acer? Even Dell (after my refurbished laptop experiences)? We’ll see…
I assume WebOS will be available as a bootable or virtual option on HP machines. Given WebOS’ anemic market share among smartphones (and the unusual nature of this plan), not sure how much of a boost it’ll give WebOS, and we still have yet to see the TouchPad released. I’d also like to know if this version of WebOS will be available for previous HP owners (such as myself, who owns a 1.5-year-old HP laptop). Either way, this should be interesting…
Two new smartphones were announced, the Veer and the Pre 3. The Veer, like the short-lived Microsoft Kin, is a smallish-sized slider phone, replacing the Pixi. Meanwhile, the Pre 3 replaces the previous Pre models, but from the specs given, it just seems like a stepped-up-specs-wise version of the Pre 2. From the descriptions alone, I don’t think either phone will sway me from going to Android for my next smartphone.
The biggest announcement, however, is the TouchPad, a 10-inch tablet that’s similar to Apple’s own iPad, but runs WebOS. While it looks impressive, the main issues in my opinion will be: getting developers on board to write apps for WebOS (given how few apps WebOS has versus Android or iOS); being well-made; being able to stand out from the crowd; and the TouchPad’s price. By the time the TouchPad comes out this summer, it’ll be in the midst of the iPad 2 and a pile of Android tablets presumably running Honeycomb (Android 3.0, the first version dedicated to running on tablets). As for the price, it’ll have to be the same as or less than the entry-level wifi iPad (US$499), unless they want to go the same route as the Motorola Xoom ($800?!).
I wish HP luck with the TouchPad, as I still like WebOS despite the market share (and previous hardware) flaws. And yes, “HP,” not “Palm”; apparently as of this announcement, the Palm brand is officially dead. To think they were a major name in the 90s (with the PDA and all), and now merely absorbed into being a part of HP…
As a Palm Pre owner who enjoys his phone’s WebOS operating system, I’ve been wary over news of Palm’s possible death (and being resigned to choosing from a phone in the future running Android, which is OK but still doesn’t feel as nice as WebOS), comes today’s surprising news: Hewlett-Packard (makers of my laptop) are buying Palm, wanting to get into the smartphone market and possibly use WebOS for future uses (probably some tablet):
I’m glad to see my Pre won’t become another tech also-ran, and that WebOS will have a future. Hopefully, HP’s money and marketing/name brand muscle will boost WebOS’ presence on the market, and that I’ll get to see a better-hardware version of the Pre/Pixi come down the pike before long.