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One of the things we take for granted on desktop PCs and notebooks is the power of multimedia plugins such as Adobe Flash Player. This useful browser plugin is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, not to mention Android, and allows users to enjoy such web-based treats as YouTube, various TV and movie streaming services, all manner of online games, and even the browser-based Facebook interface.
There are plenty of reasons to have Flash Player on mobile devices, which is why users of the webOS platform have been waiting feverishly over the past few months for news of a plugin that will allow them to add Flash Player to their phones and tablets. The webOS Flash Player release has finally been unveiled by Adobe, but this version is separate to the one that can now be found running videos on the HP Touchpad. So how do you install it and take advantage of the multimedia thrills that it offers?
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Why the Delay?
While webOS was originally launched (by Palm) in January 2009, it has taken several years for the media plugin to become available for the platform. In that time, a lot of things have changed, and webOS is up to version 3.0 as of July 2011 with the release of the HP Touchpad, although the Pre and Pixi phones are running version 2.x.
Adobe announced in early 2010 that the player would be available in late 2010 and the final date was a little later than this. No formal reason was given for the delays.
No doubt HP’s acquisition of Palm and the webOS platform was a contributing factor, but it’s fair to say that having decent Flash support early on could have saved the platform from an ignominious buy-out…
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Using Flash Player for webOS on the HP Touchpad
As alluded to above, the Adobe Flash Player for webOS tablets – of which the HP Touchpad is first – is already here, and sits as a native app on the new slate device.
What this means is that you should be able to launch the browser on your HP Touchpad and enjoy a Hulu or YouTube video, visit Last.fm or Pandora and enjoy some music or open Facebook and spend a few minutes playing browser-based games, all thanks to Flash.
You don't need to look for it on your Touchpad, as it will automatically be invoked when you visit websites that require it. However from time to time you will be made aware of Adobe Flash thanks to the occasional updates that will need to be applied to your tablet for its continued use.
Note, however, that you may not receive the expected level of performance from Flash Player on your webOS tablet; Flash on mobile devices can tend to be a little jerky, especially when compared to Android Honeycomb devices, thanks to the slightly slower CPU. The HP Touchpad has a 1.2 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which is more comparable to a smartphone CPU than the Motorola Xoom's Nvidia Tegra 2 1 GHz dual-core processor.
However, as long as the device has a stable Internet connection and minimal multitasking applications, Flash Player should run without any issues, enabling you to enjoy rich media content on your webOS slate!
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Drawbacks with Flash Player for webOS
It could be due to the length of time that it took to release, or it might be due to a general inability to perform as expected on a mobile phone, but as far as webOS and Adobe Flash Player are concerned, you should stick to the HP Touchpad.
There are several other webOS devices out there, mobile phones with variations on the Pre and Pixi name. For these devices, no easy method of installing the Flash Player has been established as yet; the existing process can be accurately described as “lengthy.” Happily for mobile users, however, there are versions of the plugin for both webOS 1.x and 2.x and each version has a different method of installing the software.
Additionally, you will find that the performance hit felt by a webOS phone will potentially result in you taking advantage of the ability to disable it when not being used. Given that Android phones handle Flash Player with such ease it seems odd that webOS devices don’t appear to have as stable a product.
Fortunately, this hasn’t transferred to the HP Touchpad!
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Why Flash Player is Still Relevant
There are many commentators and users who feel that installing Adobe Flash Player on any mobile device is ignoring the fact that it is a buggy piece of software full of vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited.
However, this depends purely on the circumstances and the media being viewed with the Flash Player. There are certainly many websites out there offering Flash content, from YouTube to Last.fm, and with splash adverts on many websites and blogs it doesn’t look as though Flash is going anywhere soon.
With HTML5 around the corner – most major browsers will be supporting this new standard from 2011 – there remains a shadow hanging over Flash. In the meantime, however, while websites continue to feature Flash-based content then Adobe’s media container will remain a popular choice for any platform that it is made available on.
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Author's own experience.
Image credit: HP Touchpad, http://h41112.www4.hp.com/promo/webos/uk/en/tablet/touchpad.html