Controlled obsolescence ensures that your new device – can be a smartphone, tablet, video game console, or iPad – becomes near useless a few years, sometimes a year after buying. Recently, I went through my junk boxes and came across gadgets I couldn’t even recall the last time I used – 5 tablets, 3 iPhones (yes, the flagship iPhone 1 was there too), 2 iPads, 1 dead PS2, and a functional Dell Inspiron laptop I can’t recall the password. Also, I am one of those folks who develop emotional attachment on gadgets – once my devices get home, they will never leave in a garbage truck.
What could you possibly accomplish with an old and unused tablet? At first, I couldn’t figure out much, but after combing the web, I found myself using my old tablet as a wireless trackpad. The soul searching opened a pandora box, and all the remaining devices got a job to do.
I am not going to discuss each and everything you can do with an old laptop, smartphone, and tablets. For the sake of space and time, let’s look at what you can accomplish with those unused tablets lying idle in your drawers.
Free-standing security cameras
It is not surprising to come across a Google Nexus tablet or any other Android tablet from 5 years ago with an impressive 10 – 12 MP cameras. If you consider the fact that home security doesn’t require cameras with the highest resolution, you won’t hesitate to turn your old tablet into a home surveillance device. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps on the web that can help you accomplish this task. Start by downloading the IP Webcam application (which is free, by the way) or get a fully featured pro version that will cost you about $4 and follow the installation instructions. Within an hour or so, you will be able to see all the activities that are taking place in your house from any compatible browser.
Full-time live chat or video conferencing station
Still, on cameras, you can set up your old tablet with an application for the live chatting station of your choice – Google Duo, Hangouts Meet, Skype, or any other option you like – then place it in a specially designed dock on your conference room’s table or desk.
With a bunch of tablets and even smartphones, you can create a whole office-wide or house-wide video conferencing system that won’t need to be dismantled after every session. Sign each tablet into its own distinct account, the room’s name serving as the username, and chatting with folks close or far will be as easy as ABC.
A “cheap” eBook reader
I can’t see the point of buying a specialized eBook reader when you already have a functional tablet that you longer use. An android tablet makes a fantastic eBook reader that doesn’t even require a complex setup to use. Because Android is the most popular smartphone OS on the planet, you can bet most eBook reading apps are based on it. Hence, most of the excellent eBook reader apps are available on Google Play Store, most of which are freely downloadable. Your old android tablet’s processor power might not be on par with modern games but will not struggle with books. Simply download the eBook reader of your choice and set it to launch by default. Voila! You have a dedicated eBook reader without spending much.
Get some help in your kitchen
Do you find yourself taking your phone or iPad to the kitchen to read recipes while you cook? It’s both unsanitary and inelegant – regularly used phones and iPads carry a lot of germs with them. How about converting your old tablet into a dedicated recipe reading screen? It is easy, create a proper mount at a conducive location in your kitchen and download apps like AllRecipes to display your favorite recipes while you prepare your meals. You can also load it with your favorite music or videos and entertain yourself as you wash the dishes or chop onions.
Digital Photo Frame
If the screen is not cracked, the tablet can serve as a digital photo frame. Consider setting it in such a way that it can display slideshows from Flickr, Google Photos, or any other photo-sharing platform you like anywhere in your home. You can benefit from apps like Fotoo which also displays photos stored on tablets. Another way of accomplishing this is to load tons of photos on the tablet and give it to a not-so-tech-savvy loved one or significant other as a present. If the front-facing camera is still in great condition, then why not use your tablet as a mirror?
A command center in your kitchen, bedroom, or patio
Use your android tablet as a multipurpose command center anywhere in your home. How do you make one? Start by downloading a launcher that can simplify the home screen and add some easy-to-use gestures such as tapping double-tapping any empty space on the home screen to launch the voice search function. The best launchers to start with are Nova Launcher or Action Launcher. Most tablets manufactured from 2016 won’t require the help of launchers as they can respond to commands via Google Assistant.
Pass it on to your younger relative
There is a strong chance your younger relative asked you for a tablet already. And if you are tired of sharing your latest devices with those excited minds, it only makes sense to get them a device of their own. Kids don’t pay a lot of attention to the model of the device. They also don’t care whether it is new or old, anything with a flashing screen that can play video games and music videos would do. So instead of forking out hundreds of dollars to buy them a new tablet, just get one of your old tablets and pass it to them. However, you will need to make some adjustments on the device to prevent them from using it for wrong purposes.
Dedicated music player or internet radio
Smartphones come with a radio app, but most of us can’t recall when we last used it. Stand-alone radios are great, but most of them aren’t built to tune on the internet radio. And you might not be a fan of dedicated radios. Things can be a whole lot different, even easier when you convert your unused tablet into a dedicated radio or music radio. As aforementioned, Google Assistant is one of the most valuable resources on your old tablet – you can use it to control the radio or music player from anywhere in your house as long as you maintain the line of sight.
Start by creating a special station where the tablet will be held permanently, then hook it permanently to your speakers or dock it via a 3.5mm audio jack. Download Spotify or any other music streaming app you like. TuneIn can be the best radio app to start with. Utilize the internal memory by filling it with your favorite music and begin blasting them from the corner of your family room as long as you want, even longer!
In-vehicle movie player
Those cars with inbuilt monitors at the back of their front seats are fancy, right? The cost of putting them there, however, can be too high for some us, or simply unnecessary. However, if you have a few unused tablets (you need just two of them) at home, you can replicate this experience by hiring a professional to glue them in your car and offer entertainment to your loved ones who always sit at the back.
As you would expect, there are accessories that can help you accomplish the task. Bestek’s universal mount, for instance, lets you clamp a tablet or iPad on the backside of the headrest for about $6; no extra equipment is needed. There is plenty of similar accessories on the market.
Households with several family members may have a hard time communicating important information verbally. Why not return your old tablet to life by turning it into the family notice board?
Use a few Velcro strips to tie your tablet on a wall somewhere in the family room or kitchen, or any other place the household members frequent most. Encourage everyone to leave reminders and notes there. The Noteboard app (costs about $2) lets you leave cute sticky notes in multiple colors. You can get a bit fancy with the Cozi app, which provides your family with a full-on calendar. The best part is that any family member can set reminders, shopping lists, events, post photos, leave notes remotely from their own smartphones.
Arcade gaming system
Hard to believe it, but my old 2014 Google Nexus tablet is the most used device in my house. That’s because my 5-year-old son, who plays a lot of Fortnite, spends hours on it. Tablets (and some smartphones) from as far back as 2014 have Snapdragon 208, 210 and 212, and Qualcomm 205 processors, which are still powerful enough to support most of the games you would find on Google Play Store today.
Better yet, you can turn your old tablet into a retro gaming machine, fully fitted with hammerable buttons and an old-school joystick. There are a lot of kits out there that help can help you accomplish this task – Kindle Fire HD (about $11) and Zeon Tech Arcadie (about $10, for iOS only) allows you to slot your tablet after which you can download old flames like Blasteroids, Pong, and Alien Invaders and play them from your cave.
A dedicated GPS for hiking, bicycle, or car
An old tablet can make a cheap alternative to those expensive GPS trackers when it is combined with a charger and the right holder. Most tablets with GPS don’t require a data connection, so it is one of a small number of features that will work perfectly without a Wi-Fi connection or the presence of a SIM card. Granted, the power of your tablet’s GPS tracker will not be as perfect as those specially designed GPS trackers, but will still work well enough to ensure that you don’t spend money on a new unit.
Prepare your tablet for the task by clearing all unneeded apps and files. Then proceed to install one of two of the best navigation applications on iOS and Android. Finish by downloading whichever map areas of your interest so that you can navigate it offline. All you need to do from here is to attach your tablet on your bicycle’s mount, waterproof hiking case, or car holder and embark on your adventurer.
This idea comes with a few hurdles. The device will still guzzle a lot of power than it previously did, especially if it is equipment with high-accuracy GPS. It will have limits as well. For these reasons, don’t depend on your tablet as your ultimate navigation, especially when navigating wildernesses that you’ve never been before.
A live window through which you can peek into the world
If you can’t have the greatest views of the scenic landscape or lake located close to your home, consider turning your old tablet into a live window through which you can view live feeds of exciting locales from across the world.
Start by grabbing yourself the EarthCam Webcam app from Google Play Store. It will give you access to a long list of live streaming cameras situated in different exciting places around the world. Proceed to create a permanent station for your tablet on the office’s desk or somewhere in the family room or kitchen. If you get immersed in it, you might want to upgrade the app to over 170 live cameras for about $5.
Connect your tablet to your laptop as a second monitor
Did you know you can boost your productivity by connecting an extra screen on your laptop? If you are an architect, for instance, you may want to view the plan of a building on one screen and the 3D representation of your design on another screen. Whichever needs you may have, you don’t need to buy a new monitor if you have an old tablet you no longer use. It isn’t even complicated (no hacking, no jailbreaking), all you need is one of the many iOS or Android apps designed to pair your tablet with your laptop and reflect the activities of the laptop the tablet.
Start by putting your tablet in a stand or case so that you can have an easy time orienting the laptop vertically. Now proceed to Google Play Store or iOS and download one of these apps:
This is the most popular tablet-laptop pairing app out there. It pairs the two via a Wi-Fi or USB. If you choose to use Wi-Fi, you will be asked to install it either on either device. Follow the instructions and use the tablet as a second screen.
Use this app if you would only want to use the USB connection to establish your tablet as the second monitor. You will be required to install TwomonUSB on your Windows laptop (OSX is not supported, although some users claim to have used it on their OSX).
Splashtop doesn’t disappoint in converting your tablet into a second monitor but can turn you off with their subscription model. If you find the features to be worth it, such as turning your tablet into a highly responsive graphics tab, you won’t hesitate to subscribe.
Just because you no longer use your old tablet computers doesn’t mean they are useless. Just like smartphones, tablets come with immense processing power, fairly durable batteries, powerful cameras, and other useful features like GPS, Google maps, and media players, all of which can be used for other purposes. There is no single ultimate list of what you can do with your old tablet; your imagination is the limit.
Leave us a comment below and let us know how do you use your old tablet. Have a good one, we hope to see you on our next post. Have a good one.