10 ingenious uses for a super cheap tablet

By Jos ยท 14 replies
Jan 10, 2017
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  1. Whether you're shopping for an Apple or Android tablet, you know the top-tier models could set you back $500 or more. If you're looking for a name brand but are willing to consider less than the latest and greatest, there are deals to be found. You can often get last year's model in the $200 range, and if you're patient you can find sales cutting prices down to the $100 range.

    But if you're willing to consider a tablet that isn't from Apple, Samsung, or Sony, you can find prices that dip a lot lower. Amazon's basic 7" 8GB Fire retails for only $50 — and on Cyber Monday this year, it dropped to $28. But you don't have to wait for a shopping holiday to get a deal like that; we've seen off-brand Android tablets with similar specs to the Fire go for around $30 in recent months.

    Even at those bargain prices, a low-end tablet can handle a lot. If you want a tablet for watching Netflix, reading books, surfing the web, checking email, and other basic tasks, a cheap slate may be the perfect answer. Or if you already have one collecting dust, these are some ideas to put it to better use.

    Completely Customizable Clock

    You can spend a lot on a high-tech alarm clock, but you'll never find a clock more customizable than a tablet. Get a stand to prop it up by your bedside and install your favorite alarm clock app. Most apps will let you set up the display just the way you like it and choose exactly how you want to wake up. As a plus, once you're up, it's a good way to check the morning headlines or review your schedule for the day while you're getting ready to go. Similarly, you could repurpose a tablet as a wall or desk clock — the ability to customize your tablet clock makes it perfect for any location.

    Dedicated Desktop Anything

    Perhaps you like to keep a paper copy of your calendar open on your desk. Maybe you like to have a radio at hand while you work. Either of these can be replaced by a tablet on your desk running your favorite calendar or music app. And if you'd rather see the latest weather or the top social network posts, you can do that, too. Whatever you want, a basic tablet loaded with the right app can show it to you at a glance.

    Small Second Monitor

    A tablet — especially a budget one — won't sport a huge screen, but armed with an app like AirDisplay or iDisplay it can still make up for a convenient second (or third) screen.

    Digital Photo Frame

    Instead of filling a photo album, toss all of your pictures into your favorite gallery app and display them individually or as a slideshow. Alternately, you could use it to display digital versions of the kids' art for a modern take on the traditional family fridge gallery.

    Family Message Center

    Do you still keep a notepad and pen on the kitchen counter, by the phone, or in some other central space to use as a place for the family to keep notes? You can replace pen and paper with a tablet, stylus, and note-taking app — you can even mount it to the fridge just like you would a notepad, to keep that old-school message board experience.

    Digital Cookbook

    We're done with paper cookbooks and you will be, too when you have a dedicated tablet in the kitchen. The right app — we like Paprika — will let you store your own recipes alongside recipes you find on the web for an easy-to-use digital cookbook. Just be sure to keep a stylus at hand so you aren't reaching for your tablet with grimy hands.

    Dedicated Video Phone

    Sure, you can do video calls from your computer, but using a tablet lets you make video calls while keeping your computer free for anything else. All you have to do is install Skype or Google Hangouts and you'll be ready for your next call!

    Home Security Camera

    A tablet has everything you need for a decent security cam: a camera and WiFi. Install an app like IP Webcam and you'll be able to watch or record video from your tablet. While it requires a little more setup than a Smart home camera, it's hard to beat using a cheap tablet in place of a $100 Dropcam.

    High Tech TV Remote

    What kind of remote you'll have depends on the kind of tablet. Some higher-end Android devices include IR Blasters which, when paired with a remote app like AnyMote, can turn them into customizable universal remote controls.

    Unfortunately, you won't find this feature on a bargain basement tablet; but that doesn't mean you're out of entertainment options. Your tablet can be a dedicated device to control (and cast online content to) your Chromecast or Roku using their respective apps. And just having a tablet TV companion is great, letting you look up actors on IMDB or find out when the next season of Game of Thrones will be online.

    Tablet Stands and Mounts on a Budget

    You've probably noticed that most of these uses require you to have a stand or wall-mount for your tablet. And while these aren't break-the-bank expensive, when you're spending $35 to $50 on a tablet, spending $10 to $50 for a stand or mount seems ridiculous. However, there are some budget-friendly ways to put your tablet where you want it.

    A $2 business card holder tablet stand: A sturdy metal business card holder makes a great tablet stand. No, really! As-is, a business card holder will typically only work for tablets in landscape mode — tipping over when you put it in portrait — but all you need is a pair of pliers to adjust it to hold your tablet in portrait, too.

    A $3 plate hanger wall mount: These hooks designed to mount decorative dishware on the walls can be repurposed to work with your tablet. It won't win any points for style, but it's certainly effective.

    A $12 Sugru wall mount: DIYers in the audience already know what Sugru is, but for the rest of you it's a moldable silicone. Out of the package, Sugru is just like clay that you can stick to things and shape however you'd like, but after it's been left to cure 24 hours, it's tough stuff. For tablets, you can stick it on the wall and shape it into mounting hooks, no drilling required. (And if you’re looking for something different, Sugru also has a great hack for an adjustable tablet stand.)

    Can you think of any fun, creative uses that we left out? Let us know in the comments.

    Elizabeth Harper is a contributing writer at dealnews. Republished with permission.

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  2. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    #1 Web Browsing
    #2 Porn Browsing
    #3 storage of porn.
    #4 Cheat codes for Xbox One
    #5 remote control for Xbox One.
    JamesSWD likes this.
  3. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,046   +680

    No offense... but these are some pretty weak uses for a tablet.
    Misagt likes this.
  4. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    Have you ever tried to use a super cheap tablet? lol
  5. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,046   +680

    I wouldn't use it as an alarm clock or hang it on my fridge if that's what you're asking.
  6. Panda218

    Panda218 TS Evangelist Posts: 465   +217

    Save the money and don't buy one!
    Verencius and petert like this.
  7. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    Tablets? Do people still use them?
  8. fktech

    fktech TS Addict Posts: 223   +60

    Door stop.
    Fishing weight.

    TiVo box manager is my only productive use!
  9. Teko03

    Teko03 TS Evangelist Posts: 415   +186

    Not cheap, but when I got a Surface Pro 4...I retired my Surface RT to the kitchen counter. It displays weather via the Weather Channel app & when it's time for cooking I launch OneNote as I store all of my saved recipes to a "Cookbook" notebook.
  10. m-tec

    m-tec TS Enthusiast Posts: 35

    Cheap tablets often have hdmi, so can be linked to a tv to play most apps. Mine is also magnetic, so it will stick to the fridge by itself!
  11. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    No, not what I asked at all. lol

    If you are burdened with a cheap tablet then you'll know they are terribly slow and practically pointless. Some of the real cheap off brands anyways... This article is just telling you several uses before you toss it in the trash. lol

    Or for an example... and listed in this article, is setting it up as a security camera. I know someone who had a few old android phones, slow and crappy out of date. Well, he installed a camera app that allows you to connect them to your network and access them from anywhere. Setting up recording could be a little more tricky, but better than throwing them away if you want a cheap surveillance system. It's IP Webcam.

    People say dont buy them in the first place... well, too late and you cant help what gifts people buy for you during the holidays.
  12. Magic Rat

    Magic Rat TS Rookie

    Daily. Wouldn't do without it. Of course I'm on a fixed income of $140 a month, the rest goes for medical care and lodging. The state would take the $140 if they thought they could get away with it.
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  13. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    Outch! The state would steal our sugar from our coffee if they could, but they can't so they tax it to the hilt instead
  14. tragicallyhip

    tragicallyhip TS Booster Posts: 91   +13

    A wireless keyboard/mouse combo for a media pc or htpc
  15. AncientYouth

    AncientYouth TS Rookie Posts: 19   +12

    Classic filler article and been done many times before

    Good luck with the alarm clock app when it leaves a huge digital screen burn on the screen

    How about a paperweight?

    Really bad frisbee?

    Serving tray?

    Anything that being rectangular and rigid requires

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