HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

Summary: The first thing I do with a new gadget is test it for mobile blogging potential. The HP TouchPad is serving that role well using simple apps and the cloud.

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I am always trying different gadgets as part of my mobile tech blogging, and one of the criteria that determines if a particular gadget works for me is how well I can use it in my job. That means how well a device can function as a portable blogging machine. My testing of the HP TouchPad has surprised me that it fills that role nicely.

A portable blogging machine must be easy to carry most of the time. It doesn't do much good if I have to leave it in the office a lot. The best blogging system is the one I have with me. The TouchPad is such a gadget, I find it easy to take along for most outings, making it available should a writing opportunity present itself.

The Wordpress app on the TouchPad is very good compared to other versions, and those with a simple blog on the network will be happy. Our blogs on ZDNet are very complex and require a special backend to support this publishing environment. That usually means writing in the browser editor. This works on the TouchPad browser to a degree, but I find it falls short in handling the entire blogging process from writing to publishing.

I have settled on a method for blogging that utilizes the TouchPad as a writing machine only. I write articles using a text editor on the TouchPad, and then finalize them back at the desktop for publishing. This method works well, even better than I expected, and has benefits as a result.

TapNote for the TouchPad is a simple text editor that makes this system work well. It provides me with a blank screen for entry, which allows me to focus on what I want to say and not the vehicle for capturing it. This has turned into a great method for me as it allows my creativity to flow. It works equally well with the onscreen virtual keyboard and the Bluetooth keyboard I occasionally use. The TouchPad onscreen keyboard is really good, and I can do a lot of entry using it. When I have big articles planned I bring the wireless keyboard along to get busy.

TapNote can automatically sync with my Dropbox account in the cloud, and this makes the process work for me. I enter a new "note" and it instantly appears in my Dropbox storage. This makes it available on every computer and gadget I use, so my work follows me as it should. TapNote saves each note to Dropbox as a simple TXT file, making it easy to incorporate into blog posts via simple copy and paste. This system works so well that I am using it more often than I anticipated.

Once I've written an article in TapNote while on the go, I can create a Wordpress blog post at any time back in the office (or on a laptop anywhere). I bring the text into the blog editor and then edit it as usual for publishing. I have come to appreciate the extra proofreading I do on both the TouchPad and the desktop, as I catch almost all typos.

This system won't be appropriate for everyone, after all we are all different. It works marvelously for me, and I can be productive at a moment's notice almost everywhere.

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Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Browser

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14 comments
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  • Is the TouchPad a better blogging machine than the alternatives?

    If all you wanted was a blogging machine, how does the TouchPad compare to the alternatives?
    toddybottom
    • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

      @toddybottom In my experience the TouchPad browser handles blog editors better than others.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

        @JamesKendrick My experience says otherwise:

        http://lgponthemove.blogspot.com/2011/07/quick-look-hp-touchpad.html

        How about we clarify which blog editors those were...
        lgpOnTheMove
  • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

    I've been using TapNote pretty extensively for notetaking and generally like it. Have you had any problems with the cursor sometimes disappearing when trying to reposition it, though? I've been running into that problem a lot and it does have me at least keeping an eye opened for possible alternative note-taking tools.
    JeffGr
    • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

      I'm the developer of TapNote; glad to hear you are enjoying it, James!

      @JeffGr I am currently testing the disappearing cursor problem, and it seems to be a problem with the HP text editing widgets that triggers when their content gets larger than a few KB. Hopefully I will be able to fix it myself, but it might require optimizations in WebOS on the part of HP.
      One Crayon
      • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

        @One Crayon Cool! I'm glad to learn that you are already working to track down that bug. It is annoying, but your app is otherwise so good that I've been willing to put up with it so far. Glad to know that a fix could be coming down the line eventually!

        James probably hasn't experienced the synchronization with the TapNote WebOS phone client, but I've found the combination of the two apps to be a big plus. For someone with both a TouchPad and a WebOS phone, this is a particularly useful tool.
        JeffGr
  • A better hardware-software solution for mobile blogging needs

    Please, first a disclaimer: This comment is NOT an ad for Apple products. Nor is this comment a recommendation for them, as such. The only reasons I will mention them are: both James and myself are familiar with them and this knowledge will establish some "common ground" to answer my curiosity.

    Specifically, would an iPad 2 and 11" MacBook Air combo provide a better mobile environment than James's HP TouchPad and his desktop PC? (In regards to his main blog points)

    First, consider the size and weight of an iPad (with it's optional Smart Cover and MBA combo vs the HP Touchpad, mobile keyboard and tablet stand (or pretty much everything James detailed in his prior review of the iPad Travel Express bag) It would seem to me that the Apple combo would not incur either a size or weight penalty compared to the HP TouchPad plus assessory package. For the sake of argument, let's call this "weight and size" comparison a "draw". Actually, the Apple combo would win in this category if James includes his favorite Thinkpad laptop or his desktop PC. (personally, I would leave the desktop PC back home in his really nice Mobile Manor - Grin.) And, IMO, the Apple hardware provides an ergonomic advantage over the HP TouchPad and its's accessories combo.

    Second, consider the mobile capability potential of the Apple software/hardware combo and the HP Touchpad (and optional laptop) combo. With Lion installed and using any VM software to run Windows or Linux optional apps that James might need away from Mobile Manor, I'm sure this combo could handle any mobile requirements James needed .. much more so than if the HP TouchPad and it's accessories were the only hardware used on his trips. (Of course, if James's trusty Thinkpad were taken along, this advantage is erased.)

    Also, if Lion Server were installed on the MBA, ready access to and transfer of any iPad files would be easily accomplished.

    Plus, one other Apple synergy that could be used in a mobile environment (with WiFi availability) would be a dual monitor MBA setup using the iPad 2 as the second monitor and an available iOS app. (The iPad Smart Cover would allow easy positioning of the iPad next to the MBA)

    Of course, James might be able to use a remote desktop app on his TouchPad to transfer files to and from his Desktop PC which would mitigate the need to bring along a laptop for his mobile needs. (BTW, are there VNC software apps like "Logmein" available for WebOS? )

    Finally, for those curious about any costs involved. I'm sure James could afford both an iPad and a MBA for his line of work. For the sake of discussion, let's assume cost is not a factor in this case.

    And, I understand fully the long term project study James is conducting with the HP TouchPad tablet and WebOS. My comments are not meant to sway James over to the Apple "solution". In fact, that is not even relevant towards this discussion.

    The real question is: What is the ideal mobile computing environment using current hardware and software when considerations for weight, size, ergonomics and capabilities are taken into account.

    Because of my familiarity with Apple products, I would choose the iPad/MBA combo with an optional Apple TV 2 and some necessary cables thrown in (in case I came across an HDTV somewhere that I had access to.) I would put all that into my new recently acquired Timbuk2 travel bag (with the nice ZDNet logo on it. Actually, the Timbuk2 bag is so huge, I could pack a portable printer and perhaps even some overnight "necessities" along on my trips -- Thanks, ZDNet!)
    kenosha77a
    • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

      @kenosha7777 I'm a little confused by what you are suggesting here. Are you suggesting carrying both an iPad 2 and a MacBook Air as an alternative to carrying the TouchPad and its accessories? If so, I'm not sure I see how that is a valid comparison.

      First of all, why would you need both of them to address James' mobile blogging scenario? The MBA could certainly do the job by itself. The iPad's on-screen keyboard is no better than the TouchPad's (in fact, most reviews have given HP the edge on that one), so I don't see how the iPad would be any more useful for blogging without its own portable physical keyboard. The Apple and HP Bluetooth keyboards are nearly identical, so there isn't much of a difference there.

      As for the stand, the Apple and HP covers fold over in pretty much the same way, so there isn't a clear advantage of one over the other there. I suspect James selected to carry the folding stand simply because it is likely to be more stable than using the cover as a stand. It also will work better if you want to work in portrait mode.

      As far as file transfers go, the TouchPad has really strong integration with both Box.net (it even includes a free, lifetime 50GB account) and Dropbox, which can help a lot with that. Remote Desktop is definitely one clear win for the iPad right now, though. I suspect that something like Logmein or similar will eventually show up for the TouchPad, but right now it is one of the more glaring gaps in the app catalog.

      I do suspect that the iPad would probably work generally as well as the TouchPad for the scenarios that James described, but I'm not convinced either has much of an advantage right now. I definitely don't see how a tablet+laptop portable combination would be much of an improvement, though.
      JeffGr
      • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

        @JeffGr

        I believe I can answer your initial question (Are you suggesting carrying both an iPad 2 and a MacBook Air as an alternative to carrying the TouchPad and its accessories?) by recalling some observations that James wrote in this blog article. Specifically, James wrote, ? Our blogs on ZDNet are very complex and require a special backend to support this publishing environment. And, a little later in the blog James wrote ? I write articles using a text editor on the TouchPad, and then finalize them back at the desktop for publishing.

        Obviously, James needs the power of a desktop PC to complete his mobile blogging tasks. This lead me to extrapolate that requirement to a broader perspective. Specifically, what combination of mobile gadgets would provide the absolute best possibility of addressing any task that a person (whether a professional blogger or not) might encounter on the road. And, to my way of thinking, do so in the least amount of total carrying weight.

        That is why I suggested some might conclude that the the Apple 11" MBA core i7 notebook and an iPad would form a powerful nucleus that would address those hypothetical mobile blogging needs. (Although James never mentioned it in his article, the Apple combo would provide the basis for supporting video blogs as well as text blogs. In fact, the Apple combo could provide a way to maximize the quality of any embedded videos or photos that the blogger would wish to include in his articles.

        To be fair to James, I also suggested that he bring along his "trusty" Thinkpad to assist in these tasks but if he did that, the Apple combo would still provide a overall weight advantage and, with the possibility of a dual monitor setup, offer additional synergy benefits that the Thinkpad and TouchPad combo might not provide.

        Also, left out in my original post was the very real possibility that the mobile blogger would have access to a smartphone. In that case, I suggest that Apple's iPhone might enhance the overall Apple mobile ecosystem than a ThinkPad (or any other choice of notebook), a TouchPad tablet and an Android smartphone. (James does like his Android products)

        One must note that current smartphones and tablets have the capability to record video that a notebook alone does not. I have found video recordings a great benefit during my travels with my iPad 2.

        Again, taking into consideration the overall mobile package size, weight and total hardware and software capability, I feel the Apple products could provide an extremely attractive solution to any mobile endeavor. (Again, an Apple MBA, iPad 2, Apple TV, iPhone 4, a mobile printer and all the power cables, adapters and chargers could fit rather well in most of James's carryall day bags. I know these would all fit in my Timbuk2 travel bag with ease.)
        kenosha77a
      • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

        @JeffGr

        I think you miss the point about doing the desktop editing later. He's not bringing a desktop with him as part of his mobile solution.

        He is simply measuring the HP Touchpad not the Touchpad plus another full-OS computing solution. The fair comparison would be to compare HP Touchpad to Ipad 2. He can use the MacBook Air or desktop or anything else to complete his work elsewhere with either tablet.

        As for the use adding a smartphone to the mix, the real advantage of it in a mobile blogging context is the ability to tether so that the tablet, with the full screen and keyboard (in this scenario), has access to the Internet without needing a wifi spot or paying for an extra data plan. I think the iPhone would be a very poor choice for this as I have not seen an advertised tethering option with it like other phones.

        Your post does come off as an Apple commercial even with the disclaimer that you don't intend it to. You chose to add Apple products to the mix (MacBook Air) that don't address the point of the article and you bring up a smartphone that seems to lack the most important thing necessary for the solution when there are a lot of other options out there with the option.
        bmacfarland
  • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

    Sorry to destroy your article James, but this is yet another reason why using a netbook to blog beats a slate!

    With a slate, I'm busted if I don't have the app to work with my particular blog. No such problem with a netbook, as I can tap into any browser to get full text editing functionality. I also don't need to carry/purchase a separate keyboard/stand - less weight and expense!

    When I need to insert a photo, I can zap it over to my netbook from my smartphone using BT, open up Paint or Office Picture Manager to edit the image, and then insert it into my post as I type. Can't do that with a slate!

    Yikes, I can even stream video or internet radio with a netbook while blogging, keeping me entertained while I work.

    I've enjoyed countless creative and productive sessions sitting in my local Starbucks creating entire blog posts from scratch with multiple photos, using nothing but my netbook and smartphone, and without carrying a gear bag at all! Even better, I actually get my work done, without having to "finish off" the task later.

    When the emphasis is mobility, two devices beats four. When the emphasis is productivity, netbooks trump slates.

    http://lgponthemove.blogspot.com/2011/07/tech-tips-13-reasons-why-netbooks-trump.html
    lgpOnTheMove
    • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

      @lgpOnTheMove

      I think you make some great points about netbooks, but there are some advantages to slates as well. Netbooks might be overall a better blogging solution, but I'd rather watch a movie on a slate. Also the slate's instant-on feature is very handy when you need to look up something.

      I think this article is a intended to show that if you are in the slate camp and not the netbook camp (perhaps for a reason like you like to watch video on slates), the TouchPad is a very capable blogging device as well.
      bmacfarland
  • The HP TouchPad is an electric napkin?

    I've read this article a couple times now and it still sounds to me like James doesn't actually blog using the HP TouchPad. Rather he types up a text file on the HP TouchPad and then blogs back on his desktop PC using the text he typed up on the HP TouchPad.

    Sort of like jotting notes on the back of a napkin at lunch and then using Powerpoint to make a presentation back at the office.
    scotty1024
    • RE: HP TouchPad as portable blogging machine

      @scotty1024

      What is the definition of "blogging?" Is it writing the article or posting it? I think most of the work is in the writing as the posting usually takes a minute.

      He mentioned that if ZDNet used a more common blogging backend like Wordpress instead of a customized solution he could use the TouchPad for everything. Let's not blame the TouchPad for the design and programming decisions of ZDNet's backend software.

      It's not like jotting notes on the back of a napkin and then using Powerpoint to make the presentation. The making of the Powerpoint presentation requires rewriting all the notes into full English and creating slides with formatting.

      It's more like composing an email in a place with no Internet connection, saving it as a draft, and then hitting send when you get an Internet connection. If someone were to ask you what you were doing while you were composing that email wouldn't you still respond, "I'm emailing a friend?" I think we just stumbled upon the definition of "blogging."
      bmacfarland