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Fun With Tablets

Discussion in 'Pete's Computer Corner' started by pete, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Before Christmas, I had 3 tablets at home:

    Original iPad (wife)
    iPad 3 (me)
    Microsoft Surface 2 RT (daughter)

    I've been studying for computer certifications for a long while. I use a test simulation app on my iPad. Unfortunately, the developers have decided to create a new pricing structure. The app, when I bought it, was $15ish. It's now $290ish for one year. That's a little outlandish. So, I did some Googling and found that there's another app out there that does about the same thing -- it has a bit different look and feel -- for $15. The only problem: it's only available for Android. I don't have a machine that runs Android.

    I found that there's a highly-recommended Android simulator out there called BlueStacks. I downloaded it and fired it up. It works ... but I have gobs of empty space on my screen that I have to use my trackpad or trackball to navigate. It's tiring and time consuming. If I had a touch screen laptop, it'd be OK.

    I then decided to search for an inexpensive name-brand Android tablet. Because I have the iPad 3 (9.7"), I decided I'd take a chance on getting a 7" or 8" tablet. Here are some things I learned:

    * If you want to get a Kindle Fire, make sure the app you want is in the Amazon store. If it's not, the app may require you to root your tablet (not for beginners) or it might just not work. That's because the Kindle uses the Amazon OS, which isn't 100% stock Android.
    * My app was on the Amazon store and I knew use Kindles were on sale on Amazon. By the time I got there, though, the only Kindles left were in "fair" condition.
    * You really, really need to check the resolution of the tablet before you buy it. I wanted at least 720p, because lower resolutions really don't look good. So, unless the item said "720p" or "1024x768" or higher, I didn't bother.
    * I also knew that not all Android tablets supported newer versions of the Android OS. The app I needed required OS 4.0 or higher. I then looked at the manual updating procedure for Android. Erm. Let's get something 100% compatible with Google Play, so updates are automagic. Yah. It's that bad. The updates require you to have a computer to do the update, if your tablet's not 100% Google Play compatible.

    I thus settled on the 100% Google Play compatible, Android 4.4.4 OS (will upgrade to 5.0 when Android 5.0 doesn't suck anymore), Google Nexus 7 2012 (made by ASUS). It has a better than 720p resolution (1280x800), 32gb of storage, and I got a used one for under $100. There's a new tablet from the same manufacturer with almost the same specs (16gb, only), so I know the Nexus 7's processor still has some good life left. Hey, the Nexus 7 2012 also won a bunch of awards and is highly recommended.

    I do kinda wish I waited a bit longer to get one. The 2013 version of the Nexus 7 is miles better (faster, better screen, etc.). Unfortunately, at the time, it was $60 more for a 16gb version. The2013 16gb versions are now selling for around $100, too. Post-Christmas sales and all that.

    I do have one major complaint about the Nexus vs the iPads or the Surface: the glass is very prone to fingerprints and surface scratches. IIRC, the iPad and Surface use some really high-end glass. Well, the iPad and Surface are a lot more expensive. They're also a couple inches larger. *Sigh*

    I had one minor complaint, that was fixed in the 2013 version: I have MAC security turned on for my wireless network. That means I need the MAC address before I can connect a device to my network. You can't find out the MAC address on the Nexus 7 2012 unless it's already connected to a network. That means that I had to turn off my Wifi security, add the tablet, then turn back on security.

    The Nexus 7 is a 7" tablet. That's not a terrible size, but I think that an 8" tablet would be a closer approximation to a paperback's size. Unfortunately, you're going to pay $100 more for a decent 8"+ tablet. I wanted to stay under $100.

    I could complain about the Android OS vs. iOS, but I really don't care: I bought the tablet for one app and that app runs just fine. I have to press one button and tap two things to get to the app. That's really not a problem.
  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    Suzy uses an iPad Air 2 IIRC. I use a Kindle HDX. Verizon tried to give us a free Nexus something this year if we'd add it to our account; we just didn't need it. Still, a Nexus is cheaper than that fricken app at most cell fone service provider stores.

    Suzy loves her iPad but never backs it up. So after she lost *everything* and was forced to reboot, I have been backing it up regularly for her.

    I can't get prime on my Kindle because it's in Suzy's name as the primary and I'm a secondary user of the account. (You can have family members all one one account.) If I put my Kindle in Suzy's name (because who the flock cares) then I lose all my books, magizines, etc. I bought an Amazon FireStick and in my name I get no free Prime titles. So that I did re register in Suzy's name. Did I mention that reading the small print sucks?

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    This yearly purchase crap for software is irritating me to no end. Microsoft started it with Office, then Adobe added it for all of their graphic and internet stuff.

    I see it as nothing more than a blatant grab for additional profits on their part. I have always kept stuff upgraded in the past, but paying for the upgrade in advance (which hopefully is what the purchase plan is doing for you) just doesn't float my boat at all.

    On top of that, almost all of the decent graphic arts packages for the Macintosh system have moved to the subscription model, or have been discontinued altogether - Canvas, I'm looking at you.

    I did an extensive art project for a commercial board game in Canvas, but all of the work is for nought, since a) no other program can read the files (other than a collapsed format PICT), and b) the other program I was using was also discontinued (Fireworks, a wonderful internet graphics program). So, now I'm sitting on about 160 deck plan images of warships from the Spanish American War that can no longer be resized or otherwise used other than tracing guides for Illustrator - which is now part of the Adobe subscription package and thus priced out of reach for a program that will hardly see any use once the project is finished, and is also a program that I have never been able to get to work without a decent manual.

    (That's another thing. The printed manual from the manufacturer is now a thing of the past. Unlike most folks, I like to read my introduction to the software in a printed form, not on some web site or in some other lame computer help system. (Books can go anywhere, require no battery power, and never hang up.) But, no more manuals. Bummer…)

    I've been hit particularly hard by software failures over the past six to eight months.

    First, two packages on the iOS that I have been using in one system or another for over twelve years (Pocket Money and MPG) have been abandoned by the software company that the programmer founded; the company still sells them but has not fixed them in over a year following the death of the founder.

    The alternatives are Quicken in the mobiie format, and something called Road Trip. However, the olde programs worked together, while the replacements do not, doubling the entry process for every tank of gas.

    Then, Apple has cancelled the support for the excellent, easy to use graphic format database for the iOS and the OS X (Bento), this after I heavily relied on the program for tracking for things like inventory, band book, mailing lists and so forth. There's an alternative, but it involves a complicated conversion process, something that I don't have time for right now. (The old program still works, but the interconnection between the iOS and the OS X system is now broken completely.)

    Well, what are you going to do? With a company like Microsoft (a rock in the world of software firms, comparatively speaking) moving to the screw the customer model), it may be that it's time to rely on the Apple equivalent (Pages and Numbers - both pretty good programs), but with substantial differences overall from the Microsoft equivalents. And then, what do you do when Apple decides to pull another Bento? Or, they again abandon something like Hypercard?

    I do miss the old way of Microsoft's software operations.
  4. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I call that a failure of Canvas, more than anything. If Canvas can't export or import file types that the rest of the world uses, like PSD or JPEG or similar, it's an app I'd skip and buy something better. Heck, the totally free Photoshop alternative, Gimp, supports PSD and about a dozen others. And Gimp is available on Mac, Linux, and Windows.

    I mentioned before that there's no particular reason to update anything if it no longer does what you want. If you happen to buy a new Mac and it doesn't support the OS that Canvas or whatever requires, I'm willing to bet you that you can create a Mac virtual machine with VM Ware Fusion that will run the OS version you need. (Of course, let's not be too ridiculous and say you want to run MacOS 8 or System Software 7 from the 1990s. :D )

    I did some brief Googling. Canvas does support EPS (encapsulated postscript) which Photoshop supports and GIMP supports with a plugin, so you can try exporting your files and see what happens.

    FWIW, Canvas does not appear to be on a subscription model, but the Mac version has been discontinued. There are rumors of its return, tho.

    I don't mean to stop you on a good rant, especially as it's non-alto-clarinet-related, but iOS has only been around since 2007. The first iPad was introduced in 2010.

    Bento functionality was rolled into Filemaker Pro. It looks like the last MacOS that was recommended for Bento was 10.7. Hey, I'd try it in 10.10 and see what happens. It's only been a year-ish. You can also try downgrading your iOS or even jailbreaking the device.


    The subscription model has a couple benefits: first, you're going to get the latest update available. Second, if you only use a product rarely or you have a date that you have to do a project -- as an example, my company's finance folks only use a particular app every six months -- you can save a lot of cash. However, I use my test simulator every day at work. A lot of people are annoyed that the company that made my app has gone to this subscription model. It's also pretty sneaky: their app became the standard and then they start to charge megabucks.
  5. "Before Christmas, I had 3 tablets at home:"

    Just keep taking the tablets and it will clear up in a few days.:emoji_relaxed:

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    The systems I was referring to were the Newton system (found on MessagePads and eMates) and the Palm system (found on Palm devices). Hardy Macia, the now dead and then wacky right winger programmer of the programs in question, was a close personal friend of mine, despite his Ayn Randian tendencies. It was a shame that he had to die so hard and painfully, and an even bigger shame that his legacy was dumped in the trash by his family.

    Being an Apple person from way back (I used to be the go-to guy on AOL for the Newton devices, hosting a weekly "talk show" called Nothin' But Newton for two or three years, hosting AOL get togethers at the MacWorld Expo in Boston for three times, and getting "insider" information from the Apple folks and developers - being connected had its benefits), I came on board with the Mac (after some experience with the Apple ][ machines and the Lisa) and haven't used PCs any more than absolutely necessary.

    (Plus, well after my association with AOL was finished, I got a massive overtime award from the government for the time that I worked without compensation. I don't know why I was chosen, but the money was nice at the time, and got me a quarter under the Social Security system, so I was pleased.)

    Bento still works on both machines (but is unsupported). However, the problem is with the connectivity between the two, which is broken forevermore. I would update practice records, vocalists who learnt tunes and the last date rehearsed, and so forth, all at the rehearsal as it happened. Without the interconnectivity, you'd have to take notes, and then sit down with the computer.

    I have Filemaker, but it only goes one way, from the Mac to the client program on the iOS. That's pretty much the reverse of what I want to do. And, Filemaker is a bit of overkill for what I want to do - just like Illustrator is for the illustration purposes.

    And, my major in college was in computer science, but I've long ago given up on keeping up with all of the alternatives like virtual installations and spending loads of time on programming and the like. (When I was on top of the game, all we had were mainframes, with minis just starting to come on line.) With my retirement and my affliction (which is getting worse by the month; my powers of speech are pretty much eliminated at this point), I might have more time to devote to such matters again, but starting over, even in something like Supercard, has a big learning curve at a relatively late point in my life. And, all of it without printed manuals.

    We'll see...
  7. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    And another addition to the tablet family. An HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet. It was about $80, with free shipping, and it had a few extras: $25 credit at the Microsoft Store and a year subscription to Office 365. It was part of a Valentine's Day gift to my wife. She's been complaining that her original iPad is crashtastic. I also could use a "pocket" device for my Windows stuff, so if she didn't like it, I'd use it :).

    The difference between the Surface and the HP is that the Surface runs Windows RT. That means it can only run programs from the Windows store. The HP has a real install of Windows 8.1 and it can run any Windows app. Well, within reason. It has only about 16gb of free hard drive space (expandable with a mini memory card, like the ones for cameras) and a whopping 1gb of RAM. My wife likes it. I'm sorta non-committal. The Surface and the HP have essentially the same problem: they don't really have an "integrated" touch "experience." I like my iPad the most and the Nexus a distant second.

    My opinion is that if you want a really good tablet, pick up an iPad that's a couple years old. The first generation iPad Air 16gb is trending on eBay just under $300. The iPad mini, a 7.9" tablet, is trending at about $165. Both of these are less than a 2013 Nexus 7 or 10, at $200 and $400, respectively.

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Due to my rapidly developing case of ALS (which (by the by) has turned out to be the cause for all of my problems with my airway(s) when blowing on a horn or a wind synth controller), I was issued one of the newest iPads by the speech therapist at the local DVA clinic.

    An aside:

    The whole process with all of this is much expedited over the way it was when I worked for the then-Veterans Administration, back in the early 1970s. From the date of diagnosis to the date of the 100% rating, there was a total of five work days. Once the rating was accomplished, I was deluged with future clinic appointments for everything from assistive devices for walking ("Are you sure you don't want a motorized scooter yet?"), to - ahem - less desirable things like a feeding tube ("No, not yet, thank you"), the iPad, a $70,000 (that's not a misprint) allowance for adaptive housing, to be included in 'my' new home (which will be my wife's new home, but never mind), and all sorts of odds and ends.

    (I've spent many hours dealing with the now Department of Veterans' Affairs over the last forty years, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. This most recent treatment, albeit for a condition that almost demands it if it is service connected, is just conformation of the way that they continue to do their job. There are bad apples everywhere - as an example, the Biloxi DVA MC director was removed during the current investigation - and everyone has to deal with the occasional cranky clerk (who very likely has just spent a whole day dealing with equally cranky and hard of hearing older veterans), but, by and large, they are first rate dedicated employees who are a) badly underpaid; the reason that I bailed out back in 1975, and b) hugely overworked.)

    Returning to the tablet topic:

    While my wife has one of the older iPads, this new one has the Touch ID system (the fingerprint sensor that unlocks the device, and authorizes payment through a debit or credit card), and incorporates Apple Pay, both features that are of great utility to someone with my problems. More importantly, using a speech communication feature (Verbally+, also provided by the DVA), I can deal with routine responses in about ten seconds, from need to respond, through the turn on and unlocking of the device, to the start of the application, to the selection and spoken delivery of the response - very efficient.

    Ordering food in a fast food drive up lane had been impossible until I got this Verbally+ system. Now, I have "pre-loaded" up a whole series of usual orders for Checkers, Steak 'n' Shake, Dairy Queen, and I just hit the button for the specific "order" and point the speakers of the iPad at the order box. Haven't had a botched order since.

    Longer piece of interaction through conversation take a bit more time, of course. I did maintenance and a repair estimate on one of our cars yesterday. I typed out the request prior to visiting the dealership, and in dealing with a service representative who I had dealt with before, the entire transaction (initial contact, one brief additional question after the car was in the bay, and the followup questions and answers after the work was completed (including time with the unprepared cashier) took me a total of 145 seconds, all in.

    (The total is ultra accurate because I took the trouble to track it on my "stop-period stop watch" watch provided many years ago by my son, who used to manage their Western Hemisphere operations. Besides being a great bassoon player (he is getting my faggot, a clarinet and a sax next week to get started in music again), he has been quite a source of pride for starting out with so little and ending up accomplishing so much. He's also a wizard hockey player in the bargain...)

    (When I got home yesterday, I worked up and gave my wife a copy of the questions that the service rep and the cashier asked me, and (as she ran through the verbiage, we timed how it would have went if it were done entirely by voice. The simulation returned a total time (for "call and response", in music terms) of 40 seconds. That extra 100 seconds difference between the two was the time needed to do the "typing" and "selecting" of previously formatted responses in the application. Not the same as conversation during a coffee klatch with your friends, but considering the obstacles overcome, acceptable enough.)

    Although I doubt that I'll stick around long enough to pull a Stephen Hawking, it gives me the same facility that he has for speech communication, albeit with a better mode of delivery, and one suited to manual use. Not bad for a piece of technology that you can hold in your hand, runs all day on a single charge, and can be used to access this website (albeit with the troublesome wireless design of the interface) or play a game of Candy Crush (or to write and proofread an extensive article on the torpedo technology in use at the time of the Spanish American War, all over my own internet account).

    The government being as cheap as they are (and they are VERY cheap - I had to deal with government procurement practices for forty years, and it was like pulling teeth just to use more than one sheet of copy paper, never mind getting a new, US prison system manufactured ballpoint pen), it is amazing that they opted for the iPad over the cheaper Android alternatives.
  9. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the touch ID thing. I don't have it on my iPad 3, but on my work-provided iPhone 5S. I can sometimes kiss my thumb off the button and it works perfectly. Other times I could clean the button and my thumb with a Billo pad and try without any luck.

    You can get USB fingerprint readers for both Macs and PCs. I had one built into my (very old) Toshiba laptop. I'd love to have a that on my current work desktops, as I have probably about 20 passwords for all my work stuff. LastPass helps -- it's a nifty password manager -- but it only works after I've logged in.

    While I could easily take a shot at Android, I'm not. The iPad has been around longer than Android and has a lot more apps. Combine that with a fairly rugged design in comparison to other Android devices, it's a good buy. I'd assume that there is some PC software out there that could do the same functions as any iPad application, but Windows 8.1 is really just not that good as a touch operating system and nowhere near as intuitive. Hey, one of the arguments I used to use to convince management to buy Macs is that they may be a little more expensive up front, but they're intuitive enough so people aren't going to be calling the helpdesk to ask how to copy a folder or something.
  10. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator


    As mentioned, I have an iPad 3. It's a great little tablet, but it's probably no longer going to be supported when Apple comes out with iOS 10, which should be between June and September 2016. Additionally, in the past couple months, three heavyweight tablets were introduced: the Apple iPad Pro (12.2"), the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, and the Microsoft Surface Book. New releases always mean that the previous generation hardware is going to be a lot cheaper. So, I did a bit of price research and found I could probably get a mid-range Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for under $600US. I also knew that a friend of mine had a Surface Pro 3 and I asked to borrow it. He let me have it for the weekend. It's also the highest-end Surface Pro 3: Intel Core i7, 256gb SSD, 8gb RAM. That makes it on-par with the mid-range version of the Surface Pro 4. It also has a fully-updated install of Windows 10 and the stylus pen. Nice specs.

    But ... it's not for me.

    The #1 thing I do with my tablet is read stuff. That could be spending time on Reddit or here, reading a book, or just doing random web browsing. The Surface Pro 3 weighs 1.76lbs (800 grams). The Surface Pro 4 weighs only slightly less at 1.73lbs (786 grams). My iPad 3 weighs 1.46lbs (662 grams). You'd think that the .3lb wouldn't make too much of a difference. It definitely does. After an hour, I find that I'm resting my arms on stuff. There's also no way I could hold and navigate the Surface with just one hand. To add more insult to this, an Apple iPad Air 2 weighs .96lbs (437 grams). Yes, the Surface Pro's got a screen that's a lot bigger (12.2" vs. 9.7"), but ... I think I'd sacrifice the bigger screen for the weight, especially because the iPad Air 2 has a better screen than the Surface Pro 3. (The one on the Surface Pro 4 is definitely better, though: 276ppi vs. the iPad Air 2's 217ppi)

    Now, if I needed ONE device, I'd take the Surface Pro 3 over the iPad air, but I don't need one device. I've got a nicely-powered desktop at both home and at work and I have decent laptops at home and at work to use when I need to. The only thing I dislike about the laptops I have is the lack of a touchscreen, which is something I found I used all the time on the Surface -- up to the point I was trying to do touchscreen gestures on my non-touch laptop. The touchscreen makes clicking and scrolling an awful lot easier.

    Speaking of scrolling and clicking, Windows 10 is a far better touch experience than Windows 8.1. If you've got a touchscreen and haven't gotten your free update to Windows 10, definitely do it!

    I really, really wanted to like Surface Pro 3 more. I like the screen size. I like that it's a 100% Windows program compatible machine. I like the stylus pen. I like the upgraded chicklet backlit type cover. I just don't like the weight. I also felt it get very hot -- which my iPad does when I have lots of plants and zombies on the screen in Plants vs. Zombies 2 -- and it'd just randomly get hot, start up the fan, and drain about a 1/4 of the battery, which might be because I didn't bother tweaking any of the power settings. Hey, if Microsoft can chop a pound off this thing, it'd be perfect. Even a 1/2 pound would make me go and buy one for $600. Hey, if I had the high-end Surface Book, I could even install BlueStacks and run Android on it. In both weight and functionality, I think the Surface Pro 3 competes quite well with the iPad Pro and MacBook Air, but as just a tablet that you want to do tablet stuff on, I think the iPad Air 2 is better, especially when you can get a used one for $200 less than the Surface Pro 3.

    I think my bottom line is that you really have to think about what you're going to do with your computer before you go out and buy one.
  11. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I actually went in a slightly different direction. I got a used Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. Why? Well, because I found one really, really cheap. Factory refurb, too, with a replaced screen. No scratches.

    The Y2Pro -- (There's also a Yoga 2. Vastly different specs. The word "Pro" is important.) -- is the laptop that can be used in laptop mode, tent mode, tablet mode, and stand mode. In short, it's a "convertible." The one I got was the highest-end model: I7 processor, 8gb RAM, and 256gb SSD. And, of course, the kicker: 13.3" 4K QHD screen. The one drawback is the weight: 3.1lbs. However, I played around with another 13.3" laptop and found that if I put it into "stand mode," where the screen and keyboard are facing opposite directions, it's actually quite comfortable to lay the keyboard end on my lap. Also, oddly, in full tablet mode, it's still not that bad to hold with two hands. I think it's probably how the weight's distributed.

    One of the reasons, in this case, one of the reasons to buy an older laptop is because most of or all of the problems have been fixed: screen flicker? BIOS update, driver update, and change a couple settings. "Yellow" tint problem (which mine doesn't have)? Another software update. Also, Windows 10's been updated a lot and it works a lot better for tablets, now. One final reason, too: Lenovo switched to a lower-power version of the processor for the new top-end Yoga 3 Pro (Intel M5Y71 vs. Intel I7). My I7's about 20% faster. The Y3Pro does have a better hinge for the display, though.

    The display is gorgeous. When you open it up to see the screen and keyboard, it's gorgeous. When it's closed ... average. They didn't have the one in the orange case available. Really nice backlit keyboard, too. I'm not overly fond of the trackpad, but it works.

    I've got about a week or so left to see if there's anything wrong with it and ship it back, if need be. I'm pretty happy, so far. Only one thing almost gave me a heart attack: it froze, once, and didn't turn off after holding in the power button for 10 seconds. Lenovo's standard is 64 seconds.
  12. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    So, let's go forward a couple years!

    First, I still have the Yoga and I still think it's one of the nicest laptops I've ever owned or used. It's still overpowered for most software, so I can't think of a good reason not to recommend someone buy one, other than I wish you luck finding a refurb: most places are sold out or are asking over $1000. The 3s sell for less. The new model is the Yoga 920, which starts at slightly under $1200.


    So, I got some $ for Christmas that I'm not going to use for medical bills. So, let's buy a tablet!

    I bought a refurb Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet (16gb/special offers/marine blue). The thing, itself, is $45, which is stupid cheap. I tend not to care about cases, so I bought a tempered glass screen protector for $13. the protector is "Amazon's Choice," which is generally the best trade-off between quality and price.

    I haven't actually gotten it into my grubby little hands, yet, but just about everyone puts the Fire HD 8 on their list of "best tablet" because of the price. At the very least, I'm going to use it for reading in low-light. At the very most, it's got a nice feature set and may be an "everyday carry" for me.
  13. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    I use my Kindle Fire anytime I am away from my desktop. I first bought one as I worked for Amazon. Falling in love with it, I've had three. It ... just ... works. But my best online experience is with my desktop. YMMV.
  14. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I've mentioned that I've swapped my wife's various iPads with my own, when she reported problems. The interesting thing is that I've found it incredibly difficult to make them crash, provided I'm not running 15 apps at once, which she occasionally does. Her work iPad Air 2? No real problem with that. An older iPad 4? Yah. I can see a problem.

    Anyhow, still waiting with baited breath for the Fire. Supposed to be here before 8!
  15. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Got it. Eventually. Ordered on the Friday before New Year's and it came in Thursday. That's the first time Prime shipping let me down.

    Pretty. Blue case is nice.
    Shiny. It's got a decent display that's pretty crisp.
    Supposed to be "With special offers." That's advertising on your lock screen, which I have on my Kindle Keyboard. My Fire doesn't have ads! Extra $20 discount. I'll take that as recompense for the slow shipping. Thanks, Amazon!

    A little slow.
    You can't install a real browser. It comes with Amazon's Silk browser, which does the job. However, you can only download apps from the Amazon app store, not Google Play. I might try one of the online guides on how to get the Google Play store on this.
    A tad heavy.
    Some inconsistency with apps. Some have an X in the right hand top corner to close, some don't.

    I was pretty well aware of the cons before I got the thing, except for the lack of additional browsers. I thought I saw one on the Amazon store. I was wrong. I also thought it'd be a little bigger: the LCD is 7" tall and about 4.5" wide. If you include the bezel (the black border), it's 8.4" x 5", which are the dimensions stated on the Amazon website. I guess they took the average and rounded up to get 8.

    The refurb Fire HD 8 has been bumped back up to $70. So, I was probably one of the last to get the $45 deal. Sorry. The brand spankin' new Fire HD 8s are only $80 -- although Amazon's doing a 2 for $100 special, ATM -- so there's no reason not to spend the extra $10, unless your budget is really tight. Or do the 2 for $100 special and sell one, which is probably a better deal.

    FWIW, I bought and installed the tempered glass cover. I cover up my cameras with sticky note tabs. They don't stick very well on this one and it's my only machine with a cover. I guess that shows you that the cover's working.

    Anyhow, I took it with me to read a magazine at lunch. I've got the same app on my iPads, so I know how it works (Zinio for Libraries/RBdigital). Works about the same on both. Poorly :p.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
    Gandalfe likes this.
  16. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Fire HD 8 is back on sale for $60. The 10.1" one is $120.
    Gandalfe likes this.
  17. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    On sale again, for 11 more hours.
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