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HP gives away TouchPads for free

Hewlett Packard might be struggling to meet demand for its discontinued but ultra-cheap TouchPad tablets, but that's not stopping it giving a bunch away in a Real Steel-themed competition.

Even when it restricts sales to just its own staff, HP is having trouble meeting demand for the webOS-powered TouchPad tablet. To be fair, at £89 for the 16GB model, it is possibly the greatest bargain of 2011 - and with work progressing to port Android to the device, demand has never been higher.

With the company closing down its webOS hardware division to concentrate on enterprise-grade software, however, the devices are becoming thin on the ground. A final production run was confirmed, but appears to be earmarked for the company's own employees with little chance of the devices making it to UK retail channels.

For those still eager to get there hands on one, there is another option: HP has confirmed that it will be giving away 20 TouchPads in a competition, with five of the devices signed by Hugh Jackman.

It might seem odd for the company to be giving away its most rapid-selling item - even given the massive loss HP is believed to be making on each device it sells at the £89 mark - but there's method to its madness: the contest is tied in to Jackman's latest film, Real Steel - also known as Rock-Em Sock-Em Robots The Movie - which was heavily sponsored by HP. Sadly, the tablets used in the film - set in 2020 - will likely never appear, thanks to the webOS division's closure.

As a result, the contest has likely been planned for some time - and, hopefully, HP has been putting a few of the tablets to one side in advance. It's the higher-end 32GB model on offer - one of the "few remaining," HP claims in its competition blurb - and all a would-be winner has to do is 'Like' the company's page on Facebook to stand a chance of winning.

With almost 740,000 'Likes' at the time of writing, we estimate that there's currently a one in 37,000 chance of actually winning one of the tablets - dropping to one in 148,000 if you're after one of the Jackman-signed versions - and falling. To be fair, that's likely to be a higher probability than waiting for a retail refresh that may or may not ever arrive.

The Facebook page you'll need to 'Like' in order to win is over here - and, should you choose to enter, good luck. Also, make sure you're in the US, as HP has confirmed the competition isn't open to international entrants.