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HP TouchPads sold running Android by mistake

HP TouchPads have been sold running Android, their owners claim. Videos of the Frankenslates have hit the Web.

Someone in the supply chain's been testing Android on HP TouchPads, as it seems several tablets have been shipped with a build of Google's operating system instead of HP's abandoned webOS software, Reddit users claimed.

The tablets appear to be fully functional running on Android 2.2.1, with Wi-Fi and sound confirmed working, and the Neocore graphics benchmark running smoothly.

The most likely culprit here is Qualcomm, which manufactures the 1.2GHz processor found inside the TouchPad. Before it was discontinued, the TouchPad was the only device on the market powered by one of these chips, so using it as a test device seems pretty rational.

Further evidence that Qualcomm may be behind this comes in the form of the boot screen on these specific TouchPads. The logo that flashes up is that of the Qualcomm Innovation Center (Quic). This suggests these modified TouchPads may have been development devices that somehow slipped out into retail, although when queried by Engadget, Qualcomm refused to comment.

The people who have ended up with these tablets have been uploading videos of their Android-clad TouchPads. One of these people is selling their device on eBay so it can be put to better use by developers. At the time of writing, the auction price was at $685 (around £420), which is actually more than the TouchPad originally cost before its price was slashed to £90.

This may seem like a lot of money, but it could turn out to be a bargain. The developer community at HacknMod has placed a bounty on a TouchPad Android port that at time of writing amounts to $2,150 (around £1,300). This breaks down into individual rewards for specific tasks, such as Wi-Fi, audio and the camera, but with all of these seemingly working anyway, someone could make a tidy profit from this auction.

This also comes as good news to anyone who purchased a TouchPad while they were on sale in the hope of an eventual Android port. Suffice to say, they may be getting one sooner than they expected. Did you buy a TouchPad for this reason? Are you one of the lucky ones who received one of these modified tablets? We'd like to hear your thoughts on this latest twist in the webOS saga, so post them in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.