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Things to do with a $99 HP TouchPadIt almost doesn't matter what tablet you buy. Here's why.
You may be one of the lucky hundreds of thousands who scored an HP TouchPad for $99. Or you may be one of the tech snobs sneering at those who did. ThereÃ¯Â¿Â½s no denying the TouchPad fire sale made it one of the hottest tech products on earth for a while, but are those who bought one savvy or stupid? IÃ¯Â¿Â½m B.C. with the Top 5 Things to Do with an HP TouchPad, aka, why any tablet is fine for most of what youÃ¯Â¿Â½ll do with it. File this one under reality check. #5 Use it as E-reader. The Touchpad comes with the Kindle app preinstalled and the Kindle store ainÃ¯Â¿Â½t going away. Even if you use the TouchPad for no other purpose you got it for $15 less than the cheapest Kindle. There is some risk that the Kindle platform will evolve and the WebOS based TouchPad will be left behind, but again: $99. #4 Use it as a photo viewer. The TouchPad does a particularly good job of harvesting all your online photos, from Facebook to PhotoBucket, Snapfish and others. And it beats the hell out of making people squint at your smarpthone screen or the back of digital camera. #3 Car media player. You can spend the $2 grand to get rear seat entertainment system for your car, or let our little $99 friend or just about any tablet take over. The TouchPad will always support standard MPEG4 and H.264 video formats along with the major audio formats. Now, only an iPad will get you access to the iTunes store, but there are enough other ways to get download and streaming video on a non-iOS tablet, and anythingÃ¯Â¿Â½s better than the few DVDÃ¯Â¿Â½s in the back seat pouch that your kids are sick of anyway. #2 E-mail. Its agnostic, works on any device that has an email client and the TouchPad has one baked in just like any tablet. And itÃ¯Â¿Â½s not going to stop working because you missed an OS update or need an app nobodyÃ¯Â¿Â½s developing for your platform. 74% of respondents in a recent Google survey cited email as a main use of their tablet. Before we get to #1, letÃ¯Â¿Â½s give the iPad its due. If you want to buy and tablet and not have to explain yourself, itÃ¯Â¿Â½s gonna be an iPad. A recent survey showed 95% of people looking for a tablet are considering an iPad. The nest nearest one was the 10% considering a TouchPad and itÃ¯Â¿Â½s not even made any more! The Blackberry Playbook? Forget it, fewer than 4% care. And if the iPad retains those sort of numbers, the TouchPad wonÃ¯Â¿Â½t be the last of its competitors liquidating at fire sale prices. OK, the #1 thing you can do with your fire sale TouchPad and not care what anyone else thinks is hit the web. In fact, if the TouchPad had nothing BUT a good web browser it could still do everything else on this list. And it does have a good one, one that actually shows you Flash based web sites without weird broken stuff on the screen like an iPad. So whether you found one of HPÃ¯Â¿Â½s $99 unicorns or are considering some no-name tablet thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s good & cheap, take heart that you will get a lot of out of it even without a bunch apps and OS updates. Orphans are beautiful, too! Check up for the latest tablets reviews, best street prices - and even news of who might be having a blowout sale next - at CNET.com, then just click on tablets. IÃ¯Â¿Â½m Brian Cooley, thanks for watching.