Picked up a new budget Android tablet

Discussion in 'The Counter' started by haertig, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. haertig

    haertig Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    I picked up a Kindle Fire HD8 during Amazon's "Prime Days" this week. It runs Amazon's own OS, which is derived from Android. The Amazon OS is a locked down version of Android. This particular tablet is fairly new and has not been hacked/rooted yet, so you can't install standard Android on it (yet). But that day will come. You can install apps from Google's App Store on it, although Amazon tries to prevent you from doing that. But the process is simple, or so I've read, but I haven't tried it yet.

    I was not expecting much at all from a $49 tablet - Amazon's sale price. Actually, I bought their package deal that included the tablet, a case, and a screen protector (two screen protectors actually came in the package, not one). That bundle was $72 total. After ordering on impulse I started reading the reviews. I always read the negative reviews and ignore the 4 and 5 star reviews. While waiting the two days for this tablet to be delivered I was really bummed. I was prepared for this thing to continuously drop WiFi, throw ads at me while I was trying to do simple tasks, have absolutely nothing in the App Store, take 30 seconds to a minute to load webpages, massive slowdowns if you leave the thing turned on which would necessitate frequent reboots, and all kinds of other horrid stuff I found in the reviews. I actually considered sending the thing back, unopened, once it got here.

    But you know what? None of those bad things happened with my new tablet. I am very impressed by this thing. It is solidly built. Quite fast. Holds it's WiFi connection just fine. Webpages load as quickly as my main computer. Plays videos nicely. Is very responsive to my input and commands. This thing is definitely a keeper for a cost of less than taking my family out to dinner. The case that came with the bundle is very nicely engineered. I haven't tried taking any pictures or videos with it yet. Reports (those wonderful reviews!) say the camera is not so good. But I don't really care. If I want to take pro-quality photos, I'll grab our high end Nikon DSLR. I've always wondered about the photographic judgement of people who use a tablet/cellphone as their primary camera. Great for snapshots for sure, but raving about the things as if they were some kind of high end photography option? ( iPhones do take fairly nice pictures for a cellphone though, I'll admit.)

    I bought the 16Gb model of the tablet, then added a 64Gb microSD card (that was only $11.99 on sale).

    After playing with this tablet for two days, I will say that I would buy another one in a heartbeat for the full $79 price. If you have specialized needs, or plan to use a tablet for work rather than just play (play = videos, emails, web surfing, etc.) then this Fire HD8 might not be for you. I can't evaluate it in the work context. Similar to my comments on tablet/cellphones vs. real cameras, if I want to do serious work, I'll use a real computer. This tablet is for play, and it's fun!

    If you're in the market for a budget tablet for play, I recommend this thing. Mind you, I've only had it for two days, so I'm no expert with it yet. An iPad Mini4 (similar in size to the Fire HD8) will set you back $399. Is an iPad better? No question about it. But it's 8x the price. Not worth it to me for a play toy. Maybe if you need to use it for work though.

    Here's the Fire HD8 that was $49 a few days ago:


    Here's the bundle I bought for $72:


    The microSD card:

    phideaux and HatRon56 like this.
  2. Steve912

    Steve912 Active Member

    Aug 11, 2015
    I picked a Kindle Fire at a local pawn shop...didn't like how tight a hold Amazon had on it...and it's wifi reception was terrible, and no GPS. Took it back after week and got a good one--a Samsung Tab E. Plays well with Play Store, non-neutered, has GPS, and gets wifi signal without any problems.

  3. circlehawk

    circlehawk Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    I'm reading this on a kindle hd8 right now. Unfortunately, I've had it a while which means that I paid a lot more for it back then. :no:
    I only use it for surfing the interwebs away from my main computer and have never had a problem with it. WiFi reception has never been a problem with it either so I'll call it a win.
  4. haertig

    haertig Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    I just installed the Google Play App Store so I could get all of the normal Android apps that are missing from the default Amazon App Store. Google Play works perfectly normal on a Kindle Fire. This installation is a simple process, if your Kindle Fire is running the newer 5.x.x.x version of Fire OS. If your Fire runs an older version, 4.x.x.x or older, then you cannot install Google Play.

    Here's how to install Google Play for those that don't know:


    If your Kindle Fire is running an older version of Fire OS, 4.x.x.x or older, you can't install Google Play (unless you've rooted your device - then maybe you can), but you CAN install individual apps manually (without needing to root your device). It's just a bit more difficult to find and download those apps your want without the benefit of the Google Play interface. It would be easiest to go to the Google Play website on your computer (not your Kindle Fire), browse and find what you want, note the name of the app, then manually download it from "APK Mirror" http://www.apkmirror.com/ and install it manually via a process called "sideloading" - which basically means "click on the filename to run it". In order to "click on the file" you will need a "file manager" program. The newer Kindle Fires have such an app, and it's named "Docs". I don't think the older Fires have this, maybe they do, but if not you can always install "ES File Explorer" which is a file manager app that IS in the Amazon App Store.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  5. circlehawk

    circlehawk Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks for info. :). I'd like to put the play store on another kindle fire that I use in the workshop (I've got two). There's an engine scanning app that I can get there that I would like to try.

    The fact that they try to limit you to their app store is the biggest nuisance with the fire tablets. :mad:
  6. haertig

    haertig Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    After you have downloaded the 4 APK files that make up the Google Play app and you go to install them, if your "install" button doesn't work, you may need to reboot your Kindle. I did. And that linked article above mentions it also.
    circlehawk likes this.
  7. haertig

    haertig Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    I found some cool library apps (for when you don't want to buy a Kindle book, just borrow one for free). You can download both eBooks and Audiobooks. There are two apps I found for this. The first is "Overdrive" and it is available in the Amazon app store as well as from Google Play. The other is "Libby" which is only in Google Play. Libby is the simpler, quicker, newer option. With Overdrive, it appears that you download borrowed books in either Kindle or ePub format, then read that download in your separate Kindle app or your Barnes and Noble Nook app (for ePubs). Libby has a built in reader and audio player, so you deal with your media directly within the Libby app (but it can also download Kindle format if you'd rather use your Kindle app for reading).

    These are pretty cool apps. I did some test downloads from the two libraries I'm a member of, and it was simple to set up. I was using Libby for my testing. Overdrive is a more complex app. I don't know what all it adds over Libby, but apparently I don't need it. With Libby (maybe with Overdrive too) you can download a sample of an eBook or audiobook to see if you like it. With these eBooks and audiobooks online, each library has a limited number of copies that can be checked out, just like in the physical library. If they're all checked out, you can put yourself on a wait list. And you can renew your check-outs too, just like a physical library. By downloading a sample first - you can do that anytime, even if all of the full copies are checked out - you can find out if it's worthwhile putting yourself on a the wait list for an eBook/audiobook that is currently checked out. The Libby app tells you how many copies of a particular item the library has available for check-out. For several popular books I tested, my library seemed to have around ten copies available of each. For many that were all checked out, I simply clicked to change to the other library I'm a member of, and often times found the book I was looking for available there. It's just a one click operation to change libraries, and you can have many libraries if you're lucky enough to be a member of several.

    This ability to grab especially audiobooks from the comfort of your own home or anywhere you have an internet connection will be a great asset for car roadtrips. If you start an audiobook and find you don't like it, simply download a different one in seconds. That's much easier than going to the physical library to check out a box full of CD's for an audiobook. And then find after you've driven miles down the road that you don't like the book that you picked.
    HatRon56 likes this.
  8. haertig

    haertig Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    I also have this Kindle Fire syncing with my personal cloud. Most people would use a commercial service like DropBox for that, but I host my own cloud from my home (I use free software called "NextCloud"). I do my own cloud just because I'm a geek, that's why.

    Pretty neat - I take a picture with the tablet, and that picture is automatically uploaded to the cloud and synced with my computers back at home (as soon as the tablet obtains a WiFi connection, that is). Or if I want to put some file from my home computer onto the tablet, I just drag/drop it into my computer's cloud sync folder and then it automatically appears on the tablet. No pulling out a USB cable to attach the tablet to my computer for file transfer.

    I'm also setting up OpenVPN on the tablet so it can connect to my home computer network from afar. That gives me full access to everything at home. I haven't done the OpenVPN setup yet, but I've done it before with iPads and both Windows and Linux computers, so I don't expect any problems setting it up on Android (or "FireOS", as Amazon calls it).
  9. BlakeHanson

    BlakeHanson Well-Known Member

    May 31, 2015
    I love my Kindle Fire but I need to 'root' it.
    I was fine until Amazon downloaded Alexa onto it :quote:for:quote: me into the system memory using up 1.65 GB of the precious 16 GB it only has.
    I wouldn't click the "I AGREE" box and let it install......and you guessed it, I can't delete/remove it. The check box is conveniently missing:mad:.
    I left them a nasty post on their help forum after they informed me that it couldn't be removed, about something called a "KSG" that could remove it:eek:.
    I'd like to use a more peaceful means to get rid of it.
  10. haertig

    haertig Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    I tried Alexa. Kinda neat, not only does she speak the result, but it pops up on your screen too, so you can read it if you had trouble hearing.

    Only, she didn't know the answer to the first question I asked!

  11. Pinstriper

    Pinstriper Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2011
    I have an iPad Pro 12.9, which I use for sheet music. The screen is slightly larger than a page, and by cropping margins I can blow things up an additional 10% or so. This is in addition to correcting and cleaning up many scans of scans of scans that each took the image smaller so that often our paper charts were 75% of original size, on paper, and with lots of noise, smears, etc. My eyes are too old for that, and the screen goes way brighter than any lamp can. And with 300 pieces in our book, I was hauling an extra 10# + to every gig or rehearsal.

    So I was able to justify a grand.

    But I needed a backup - in case the batteries fail, etc. or to give someone covering my part if I couldn't make the gig. And carrying the paper would defeat the whole purpose.

    So I picked up a 12" Android tablet for $170. RCA. Yeah, that RCA. They make tablets. Who knew ?

    The screen isn't as nice. Resolutions is not on par with Apple. And the aspect ratio is taller and thinner so the page appears stretched. And it's slower than my top of the line Apple. And it doesn't go as bright. And the software available for editing and touching up is not as good.

    But it works. Good enough as a backup. And it's a perfectly cromulent general purpose tablet. Youtube. Netflix. MLB. Amazon Video. Tapatalk. Email. Chrome browser. Maps. The full Android Play store.

    It also came with a keyboard and turns into a laptop like a Surface. Some day I'll find where I stashed it.

    Battery life is good - better than the Apple, even. Has a micro-SD slot and a usb port for externals, or thumb drives etc.

    Again, it was under 2 bills. If you want a large screen tablet and don't want to spend a lot, worth taking a chance on.
  12. haertig

    haertig Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    After using this tablet and it's default web browser - "Silk" - for a while, I have a whole new appreciation for what the internet is like. Well, "appreciation" is not the word I'd use. With no ad blockers, no javascript blockers, no anything, I'm seeing the web "as it was meant to be". And it is absolutely wretched! Just about every web page is just crawling with ads. Videos in your face, scroll and scroll through mounds of junk just to read a line or two of an article, then scroll through more junk to find the next line. Over and over. It's sickening. How can anybody actually use the internet like this?!

    So I will be installing Firefox, or Chrome, or some other Android-compatible browser that supports extensions that will block all this crap. I guess I've been in my own little world for a decade or more, with my locked down computers, happily existing behind my various "blockers". I have now seen the Internet in it's raw form, and it is hideous! Now I understand why they had to invent broadband. So all the ads could download. I'm surprised that a hand did not jump out of the browser, grab the family jewels, and yell "CLICK ME, BUY ME!"

    Lynx, anyone?
    FLA2760 and buzzsaw like this.
  13. TxCajun

    TxCajun Administrator Staff Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2004
    Ha! Some browser came with my Dell Android but ive never used it much. I use chrome and it's worked pretty well. At least mostly, pages don't look like the backdrop for a game show. :)
  14. FLA2760

    FLA2760 Active Member

    Aug 22, 2005
    Just bought a Lenovo Tab 4 10 from Amazon for $179.00 it's running Android Nougat out of the box. I was waiting for the Plus version with 4 gb ram and 64gb of storage but my Samsung Galaxy Tab gave up the ghost. So far so good.
  15. FLA2760

    FLA2760 Active Member

    Aug 22, 2005