[ale] Ultra cheap tablet discussion. Are they useful or can they be made useful?

DJ-Pfulio DJPfulio at jdpfu.com
Sun Jun 28 12:48:19 EDT 2020

I have an Amazon Fire8 7th-gen tablet.  There is a root break for it the last 16 months. Don't know about newer models.  Refurbs show up for $25 1-2 times a year.

If you don't hack it, then you are stuck in the amazon tracking, advertising, and content delivery system.  The first few days, I was really pissed. Then I learned how to remove the advertising, make Alexa only work with a key press, found f-droid (app-store) and found lots of non-Amazon, non-Google, mostly F/LOSS software for the tablet.  You can add Google's store, if you like to be tracked by google AND amazon at one time.

My public libraries have an agreement with Amazon to provide certain ebooks via the Kindle app - will all the tracking that Kindle apps do.

So, I've blocked most amazon and google and social networking from that device. Thanks to some self-hosted content systems, it doesn't give up my privacy as much and is hooked into Nextcloud, Calibre, Wallabag, DLNA, and will play local media just fine thanks to VLC. With DLNA, the network HDHR tuners and Plex are available (plex is a privacy nightmare, BTW).

The video screen is fine.
As an epub reader, using a non-Kindle app, it is fine.
BubbleUPnP, VLC and MusicPlayerFree makes the media playback fine.
OpenVPN works well to connect with self-hosted VPN or paid VPNs.

If you want to use it without hacking, I think I'd skip it.
If Amazon put a GPS chip into it, I'd not need/want a phone.

I've owned other tablets - 7 inch and 10 inch.  The 7 inch was too small for my eyesight and hands. 10 inch was a "premium tablet" at over $450 new.  It was large and heavy. I loaded up a minimal Ubuntu desktop into a chroot and used VNC on Android to connect to it. The keyboard mapping was poor.  Actually traveled for 3 weeks in Europe with just that tablet (cell phone was stolen on day 2).  There were a few hotels where I couldn't get any wifi connection. They were wired only or only had wifi in the lobby, not the rooms. That was over 10 yrs ago, but I'd take a wifi-travel router with me if I was dependent on wifi access.  For traveling, I need just a little more OS than android provides.

If you lean towards word and number games, any tablet is fine for that.

I don't really use the tablet for direct web surfing. Thanks to Wallabag, any web pages I want to read get saved on a local server, which can be synchronized to the phone/tablet with most of the crap on the page removed. Each article has an estimated time to read, so if you have 15 minutes to wait, you would look for an article or group of articles that would fill that time. Wallabag is pretty great, but not perfect.

If my fire8 died today, I'd spend $50 on a replacement in a few days after trying to fix the failed on. Within 7 days, I'd definitely have a replacement.

The Jitsi videoconf app works with tablets, but with a few limitations, BTW.

If you've never had an android tablet before, go cheap with the expectation it is a throwaway device after a year. After all, we've spent less on a dinner, right?

On 6/27/20 9:55 PM, Boris Borisov via Ale wrote:
> The Amazon's 7 inch tablet should have good hardware. It is cheap but you have to root it. There is plenty info on the web's.
>  From my experience once you put Google account on the cheapo tablet and that makes it gradually slowing down to crawling speeds.
> The more ram the better. I have an old one with single core and 1GB ram and works faster than supposedly 4 core with 512 MB. Yes I have bought all kinds of junk
> But without updates becomes obsolete.
> So much disposable hardware nowdays.
> On Sat, Jun 27, 2020, 9:04 PM Jim Kinney via Ale <ale at ale.org <mailto:ale at ale.org>> wrote:
>     I've got several. They are total junk. I've not been able to get deep enough to install anything else. Slow. Under powered. Crappy screens. Glued shut so opening will make it nearly impossible to reassemble.
>     I got an Acer with an intel cpu and installed a Linux distro. Has a stylus that takes a 4A battery. $150?? Been a while. Used that for overseas travel in the event I couldn't get back in with it. Passable.
>     On June 27, 2020 6:28:19 PM EDT, "Beddingfield, Allen via Ale" <ale at ale.org <mailto:ale at ale.org>> wrote:
>         For a couple of years now, I have been seeing these really cheap ($40 to $50) Android tablets in Wal-Mart, dollar stores, and places that normally don't even sell electronics.  Most of them are some brand no one has heard of, or a shameless re-licensing of old school brands like RCA or Polaroid.  I know they are going to be the cheapest of Chinese made junk, but how bad are they?  Would they be usable at all for basic web browsing?  I notice that most of them are running Android 5.0 or 6 .0.  Have any of you played with any of these, or investigated upgrading the OS on them?
>         Allen B. 

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