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Which Android tablets people recommend for price and functionality?

Josh Fink 2 years ago in Browsers Tablets Phones / Android • updated by Terry (ActionTiles) (Co-Founder) 3 days ago 33 3 duplicates

I'm not necessarily looking for the cheapest tablet but one that works well and is configurable. Preferably one I can root but if it's not needed then all the better.


I think I have a relatively straightforward use case.

  • I want to mount a couple around the house and have 1 or 2 in bedrooms.
  • I would like the screen to go as dim as possible until it senses motion or it's picked up.
  • Obviously needs to run AT and I would prefer it to boot directly into it if possible.

My goal is to make it as easy as possible for someone to pick up and use or go to the wall and use. If for some reason it needs to be rebooted or updated and it's turned back on that it goes directly into AT so that I then don't need to provide tech support.


Thanks

Android

Answers

Answer
Discuss

Hi Tim,


There are so many devices that ActionTiles works fine on, that we don't have a specific recommendation. It depends on your budget and if you want or need any special features or are running other Apps on the same tablet...


  • "old" tablets can be a problem as their Android OS and/or browser version may not be compatible (pre-Android v4.4 is a problem).
  • "slow" tablets will work, but the performance may bother you. The slowest I have experienced is an iPad Generation 2 and it's not great. My Amazon Fire 7" tablet is quite reasonable though. Keep in mind that you can build and configure your Panels on a PC or Mac or fast tablet if the table you use to view the Panel is relatively slow. Configuration is where you'd like some extra speed so you can do this building and tailoring easily!
  • "bigger" and/or higher-resolution screens are only necessary if you'd like to display a lot of Tiles in bigger sizes. But their may be rooms where you even use an old 5" phone with just a few Tiles ... I have an Amazon Fire Phone with 6 visible 1-inch Tiles on it's main page, and scroll down to another 6 less used ones.
  • "front (user) facing camera" is useful as there are some Apps that will wake a tablet when it detects motion in front of the camera, thus letting the screen fade or be shut off when not in use.
  • and... Personally I prefer a tablet that is known to be "rootable" or have "custom ROMs" available, so that I could install the most custom options I desire, if necessary.

You'll probably find a lot of advice for this question within the SmartThings Community or Facebook SmartThings Users Group!

Duplicates 3

Anyone? Would love some feedback...

I'm leaning towards rooting a Kindle Fire. Not sure on a 7" or 8"
  • HD or no HD (does it matter?).
  • It will solely be used for AT.
+1

Hi Josh,


Eventually more customers will pitch in, though, for now, you'll find more responses on the SmartThings Community Forum.


Kindle Fire is a popular choice, with minimal drawbacks consider its price:


  1. Without a front-facing camera, utilities that "wake tablet on motion" aren't available. Correction: Fire has a front & back camera! Yay!
  2. It's pretty low resolution (low def) which is just fine unless you have "lots" of Tiles or you want to see the best detail in video feeds. If you have lots of Tiles, then choosing a smaller Tile size uses smaller fonts and those become hard to read on lower resolution screens. With Fully browser, you can set a zoom-out level, which is still legible on high-definition tablet, but isn't quite as nice on a low def.
  3. The 8" means ... more room for more Tiles and/or your Tiles can be bigger and easier to read (both closeup and from a distance).

Thanks Terry...

Looking on the Amazon website, it shows that the regular 7" Fire does have a front facing camera. Same as it shows for the 8 HD. Is that incorrect?

Doh! .. You're right!


(I just don't like looking at myself in a tablet camera, so I've never turned it on 😳).

can anyone suggest a higher resolution android tablet for those that do have a litany of tiles? It seems like Actiontiles shows far fewer tiles than SmartTiles given the same amount of space.  Thanks!

+1
  • Be sure to try out different Tile size options under Panel Settings.
  • If you a using Fully or Firefox, you can further adjust the scaling of Tiles and fonts.
  • But... Yup, big tablets are nice to have and I think there will be some recommendations from the other Customers (and see the SmartThings Community too...).

Anyone here with an amazon fire 7" or 8"? im thinking is the best price/size/functionality  thanks a lot!!

 

Be aware that none of the recent FireOS builds are rootable with the 8" model

@paul b , sorry.. are you saying that the 8" model can't be rootable to install another os? I only want to use a panel for action tiles..


Yes, that's correct. Anything at or above version 5.3.2.1. of Fire OS cannot be rooted. The Fully browser works very well with full screen and motion detection but whether you need to root for that I'm not sure.

I don't think you need root for Fully premium features.

Thanks ! Is available in the amazon App Store? 💪🏼

You can download the APK directly from developer's website. Amazon App Store is very sparse.


http://www.ozerov.de/fully-kiosk-browser/

Answer
Discuss

Hi Tim,


There are so many devices that ActionTiles works fine on, that we don't have a specific recommendation. It depends on your budget and if you want or need any special features or are running other Apps on the same tablet...


  • "old" tablets can be a problem as their Android OS and/or browser version may not be compatible (pre-Android v4.4 is a problem).
  • "slow" tablets will work, but the performance may bother you. The slowest I have experienced is an iPad Generation 2 and it's not great. My Amazon Fire 7" tablet is quite reasonable though. Keep in mind that you can build and configure your Panels on a PC or Mac or fast tablet if the table you use to view the Panel is relatively slow. Configuration is where you'd like some extra speed so you can do this building and tailoring easily!
  • "bigger" and/or higher-resolution screens are only necessary if you'd like to display a lot of Tiles in bigger sizes. But their may be rooms where you even use an old 5" phone with just a few Tiles ... I have an Amazon Fire Phone with 6 visible 1-inch Tiles on it's main page, and scroll down to another 6 less used ones.
  • "front (user) facing camera" is useful as there are some Apps that will wake a tablet when it detects motion in front of the camera, thus letting the screen fade or be shut off when not in use.
  • and... Personally I prefer a tablet that is known to be "rootable" or have "custom ROMs" available, so that I could install the most custom options I desire, if necessary.

You'll probably find a lot of advice for this question within the SmartThings Community or Facebook SmartThings Users Group!

+1

Thank you for your help

Tim

+1

Buy a galaxy tab 8.4 pro smT-320.. I use it as my main tablet and it works perfectly for actiontiles. Got a real good used.second one on ebay for $85. It is rooted with remix operating system and exposed stay awake module to keep screen from hibernating.

+1

I'm using a Amazon Fire 7 tablet (got it for £40 with no ads during a sale), no root, no third party apps, default browser.


All it does is display an actiontiles panel in fullscreen and the screen never goes to sleep while charging (Settings > device options. tap `serial number` at the bottom lots of times to enable developer options, then enable 'stay awake')


Very happy with it (it's been on constantly for months with no issues).

+1

For the last 5 months I'm using 2 Blackberry Playbook tablets which I had bought almost 5-6 years ago and were sitting idle for many years.

I'm using these tablets installed on my wall on first and second floors,  only for Acitontiles , and while they may be slow (2-3 seconds delay, when I press on a tile), they do give me a good view of the current lights/ locks status.

Last Black Friday I have bought also Kindle 7" tablet which I'm mostly using for tests, but now with the fact that the new OS version, letting it serve also as an Alexa station (while connected to the power supply, w/o need to press any button), I consider installing it as well serving as an extension to my Google Home / Alexa voice command units  managing my home automation.

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/4/4/17197730/amazon-fire-7-hd-8-tablets-hands-free-alexa-new-feature

I struggle with deciding on what tablet to use.  I've had an ipad air 2 for a while but wanted to try a fire tablet in order to use things like Fully, motion detection, LanAnnouncer, etc (unavailable for the ipads unless jailbroken maybe?).  I tried using a Fire 7 with fire os, Fire 7 with custom ROM, and a Fire 8 with fire os.  But I find myself coming back to the ipad for the speed, but then get frustrated at the lack of customization.  I understand most people will say that Fire tablets are fine for ActionTiles, but I also have multiple app shortcuts to Harmony, Spotify, Honeywell, etc.  Those tablets take way too long switching between apps, and still seem sluggish overall.  I have not tried a Fire 10 to see if they are any faster.  I also can't afford to put an ipad air in 3-4 locations around the house...

I feel you. The Android tablets I've used just aren't as fast as an iPad. 

I'm in the same boat.  I have a fire tablet and it may do most of the things I want with Fully I want a tablet that is a bit faster and I can at least root it so I can really lock it down to just the console as needed.  I have an iPad2 and its just painfully slow to do anything on and any other iPad is just too expensive.

The best pad I have is latest iPad Generation (not pro) and it's super responsive and smooth. I also have a Galaxy Tab ($159) and it's just not the same feel. I don't understand how tablets can be that slow to were web apps lag... I mean it's 2018.

Discuss

On the Galaxy Tab, it is worth experimenting with a non-Chromium engine browser, such as Firefox, Opera, or several others. They may be faster, but may have other drawbacks though...

Answered: Discussion Open

Hi Cory,

One advantage of being a "web-app" is that any device with a "modern" browser can be used; though we know that Android below v4.4 and iOS below v10 are likely to have major issues. We might get this to Android ~v4.3 and iOS ~v9.3; but optimizing future versions of ActionTiles puts old OS versions at risk.

Windows and Linux are somewhat less risky, as their browsers are more distinct from their operating systems.

As for particular hardware, I'll leave it to the customer community here to make any particular recommendations. We don't want to put ourselves on the line for any hardware we haven't personally tested.


Based on high-level analytics, we note that a few top choices make up 70% of Tablets, and the other 30% are 1% or lower each; i.e., at least 30 or even 100 random brands and models of tablets.

Top Choices in Use

  1. Amazon Fire: We recommend HD8 at least, except for secondary locations with less complex Panels where an HD7 is sufficient if you want to save money. Amazon Fire have the best price-performance-features ratio, despite the various limitations and annoyances / workarounds.
  2. Apple iPad (sizes unknown): I think these are less flexible than Amazon fire, frankly, but if you're an Apple fan, they can't be beat, and performance of newer models is great. Older models are less performant, but we love "upcycling" old hardware as much as feasible. Beware that compatibility with iOS 9 may become an issue.
  3. Windows RT
  4. Nexus 7 / 9
  5. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1

TaylorTech vlogger recently reviewed a $69, 10-inch tablet and found the performance to be reasonable as demonstrated in video. Click through the video for links to retail options.


Why aren't there more choices? The "tablet market" dried up a few years ago. Consumers switched to large smartphones ("phablets") or touch-screen laptops / convertibles, including Chromebooks and Windows Surface.

So less brand-name competition means higher prices on the surviving brands (or limitations such as on Amazon Fire); and just a random selection of no-name options.


...Terry.

Thanks Terry. I guess I was hoping for more of a commercial option that would be more reliable than a consumer tablet. 

what about my second question? Can tiles be locked with a pin code so I could use this to deactivate my alarm?

What about my second question? Can tiles be locked with a pin code so I could use this to deactivate my alarm?

We prefer to only have one question per Topic, Cory - otherwise, the tangents could be endless and hard to follow.


Short answer is absolutely:  Look in Panel Builder - Settings - Security to active PIN Protection on a per Panel basis, and then turn it on for the SHM Tile(s) on your Panels (Tile Settings - Security).


Alternatively, use a lock screen password on your Tablet(s).

Hi Cory,


I have four ipads on the walls and boy oh boy what a mistake that was..

I am a hard core apple user (lately it's changing but...) and I didn't want to use android devices also didn't want to put $800 Ipads on the walls.. So i bought used old gen ipads... 

stay away from ipads guys:))

Anyway, while I was researching I found a youtube video. Someone actually used a touchscreen with computer attached to it. (I quickly looked for the video to put it here but I couldn't find it).

For this house it's kind of too late but the next house, for sure I am going for that idea.

Single dedicated computer with a couple of touch screens, wired through the walls.

Opt for Samsung Galaxy Tab A. I recently purchased it and here's my review:


The Good The Samsung Galaxy Tab A is affordably priced and offers many premium app perks for free. Its microSD slot accommodates cards up to 128GB.

The Bad The plastic construction feels cheap, and the single speaker provides weak audio. The text often appears pixelated.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Galaxy Tab A is a simple tablet worth picking up for its low price, and its valuable extras sweeten the deal even more. 

What size? What's the prevailing price these days?

I can say that our basic analytics indicate the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1" is among the top tablets running ActionTiles. I think I paid about $200 for a refurbished one on Amazon (Warehouse Deals) - the "S-Pen" model, for the heck of it. It's a bit bulky to use as an "in bed" reading tablet, and I don't like that the Android "buttons" (list, home, and back) are physical instead of virtual; but otherwise satisfied and I think it runs ActionTiles fine.