2011 may go down in the history books as the year of the Android tablet… but for Liliputing it was clearly the year when people tried to pick up cheap HP TouchPad tablets running webOS software and hack them to run Google Android.

When I decided to take a look at the articles that have generated the most traffic over the last 12 months, I expected to find a few TouchPad posts at the top of the charts. But I was surprised to find that 7 of the top 10 posts were about the HP TouchPad.

So rather than just present you with a top ten list, I figured I’d group together some of the top articles of the year.

HP TouchPad 

This summer HP introduced its first tablet running webOS. The TouchPad hit the streets in July for $499 and up. In August HP canceled the tablet due to sluggish sales and marked down the price to $99. That’s when the TouchPad became an instant hit with bargain hunters — many of them wondering if they could install Android on the tablet so that it could run more third party apps than webOS offered.

The answer turned out to be yes, but not right away.

Here are some of the top HP TouchPad-related posts from 2011:

Kindle Fire and NOOK Tablet

The TouchPad may have been the first $500 tablet to drop to $100 in less than two months, but it’s not the only cheap tablet to hit the market this year. Even though the Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet and Kindle Fire have only been available since November, some of the hottest topics of the year have been articles about tweaking these two low-cost tablets to get a little more out of them.

BlackBerry PlayBook

The Kindle Fire and NOOK Tablet may be grabbing a lot of headlines, but Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook has also been getting a lot of attention since RIM started selling the tablet at deep discounts during the holiday season.

An awful lot of people have stopped by Liliputing recently to check out these two articles:

Netbooks, notebooks, and software

We won’t see netbooks with Intel’s next-generation Intel’s next-generation Atom chips until early 2012, so there hasn’t been much news on the netbook front this year. But AMD’s C-series and E-series Fusion processors have managed to keep things a little interesting.

We also got our first taste of Windows 8 in 2011. Here are a few of the articles that have garnered a lot of attention.

There’s another article from earlier this year that got a lot of attention… and then sort of fizzled out. In January we reported on a new tablet that would cost $99, feature stylus input, and a two-color display. It would be designed for taking notes. People seemed very interested in the NoteSlate.

Unfortunately it turns out that the “company” behind the NoteSlate had little more than drawings. There’s still a chance that they could turn their vision into reality one day, but the NoteSlate shown in the concept images probably won’t ever see the light of day.

Google 

Like many technology websites, an awful lot of our traffic comes from people searching for things on Google. That means that the articles listed above aren’t necessarily the ones that regular readers found the most interesting. They’re the ones that ranked highest in Google search results, were linked most often from other websites, and resonated with at least some readers.

But I’d be very curious to know what you think are some of the top stories of the year.

One story I haven’t really talked about here is the roller coaster ride that Liliputing went on for much of 2011 in our relationship to Google. Earlier this year Google rolled out a series of changes to its search algorithm to weed out websites with what the algorithm determined to be “low quality content.”

Liliputing was one of the sites that got caught in the crossfire, and while I’d like to think that this was only because of a bug in the algorithm, I spent an awful lot of time trying to improve the user experience, flesh out old posts that might not have had much content, and delete older posts such as daily deals posts that were so old that they were clearly no longer relevant.

I’m very happy with some of the changes we’ve made. For instance, you can now view photo galleries without having to open up a new page for every picture. Theoretically this reduces the number of page views we get, but I think it makes for a much better user experience.

We’ve also recently widened our content column so that we can fit more text on a page and larger pictures. I also increased the font size to make text easier to read.

By August, our search traffic started to recover. I’d like to think it’s because of changes we made, but I think it’s really just due to changes in Google’s algorithm.

Our recovery also started in the month that the HP TouchPad was heavily discounted and the wild ride into the world of low-cost, high quality tablets started.

December, 2011 has actually been our best month ever, so we’ve clearly survived Panda and found new ways to resonate not only with visitors Google sends our way, but also with a community of people who keep coming back to find the latest news about mobile devices.

But I think the list of top posts for the year might not be quite as dominated by the HP TouchPad, BlackBerry PlayBook, Amazon Kindle Fire, and NOOK Tablet if we’d had stronger traffic in the middle of the year when we were writing more about other tablets, netbooks, notebooks.

Liliputing has always been a website about affordable portable technology — and tips and tricks to make cheap gadgets even more useful. That’s as true today while we’re writing about the Kindle Fire as it was 4 years ago when we started tweaking the Eee PC 701.

I look forward to seeing what portable technology 2012 brings.

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9 replies on “Liliputing 2011 year in review”

  1. I really like the tablet form and hope that 2012 brings better tablets.  I hope that Microsoft’s tablet isn’t a dud and I hope Google really does bring out some kind of Nexus tablet.

    The convenience of being always on and long battery life really made a difference to me vs laptops/netbooks.

    Also, what happened to Google Chromebooks.  Did they do well?  I haven’t heard about them for a while.

    1. All signs point to no. I don’t have solid numbers, but from what I’ve heard, Acer and Samsung may have sold thousands, or at best tens of thousands.

      That could change as Google and its hardware partners push the platform for business and education, but I don’t think Chromebooks have had much commercial success yet.

      Right now there’s really nothing they offer other than fast boot that you can’t get from a Windows, Linux, or OS X laptop running the Chrome web browser.

  2. After 2 and a half or 3 years of frequent visits to the site, my interest strayed from netbooks to other areas for a year or so, and I didn’t have much interest in android or tablets at first.  But that all changed when I bought a Nook Tablet and found out just how convenient and versatile this format is. It’s been fun sideloading apps and buying Kindle ebooks, etc, and I was just about to start rooting it using DeanGibson’s procedure when I saw your article on Snowball-mod. Makes me wish I had two nooks so I could do it both ways and compare them… and I’m still regretting not buying an HP Touchpad (non-buyer’s remorse 🙂  

    Best wishes for a great new year at Liliputing !

    1. Thanks Doug!

      I’ll let you in on a little secret. I was a bit worried by the growth of the tablet space. When they started hitting the streets I wasn’t sold on their utility. They don’t do much that you can’t do with a netbook or a smartphone.

      But there are certainly some things that are more pleasant on a device with a larger display, such as watching movies, playing games, or reading. 

      As prices have continued to fall and the hacker community has gotten to work on making cheap devices feel like expensive ones, the tablet space has started to feel just as exciting to me today as the netbook space did back in 2007/2008. 

      I’ll be curious to see what the next few years bring to the mobile computing space. I know there will be a strong push for ultrabooks, but I think it will take a pretty steep price drop before that area really heats up.

      The wearable computing space is also finally starting to look viable with the first honest-to-goodness watch-computers starting to appear. 

  3. Hope to see some innovative netbook designs. These non-Windows tablets haven’t provided much usefulness to me even for just media consumption and internet browsing.

    1. I got to say I regret getting the Touchpad even at $99. WebOS and Android just didn’t do it for me.  Also, the time spent getting it up and running made it a lot more expensive unless you find that stuff fun.

      I’m probably going to get a netbook next year. Hopefully, ones with stand out features come out.

  4. Biggest tragedy of the year: Nokia abandons its open source roots by abandoning Meego (which was really good, in fact …. made me chose a N9 instead of a Galaxy SII), and then sells out to become a Microsoft OEM.

    RIP Nokia

  5. Fyi, Possible Typo in first section.  Original cost of HP Touchpad.
    Thanks for all your info.  I read everyday. This site is the reason I bought my touchpads and began “tinkering” with Android custom rom installs.  Now I have a rooted and customized Evo 4G, Touchpads and just yesterday a B&N Nook.

    1. Thanks for sticking around! (And for finding that typo. 🙂

      I’ve probably had more fun tinkering with gadgets this year than I have since 2007 and 2008 when I first started playing with netbooks. Clearly I’m not the only one intrigued by the possibilities of low cost portable gadgets. 

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