LinuxQuestions.org
Share your knowledge at the LQ Wiki.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Mobile
User Name
Password
Linux - Mobile This forum is for the discussion of all topics relating to Mobile Linux. This includes Android, Tizen, Firefox OS, Sailfish OS, Maemo, MeeGo, Ubuntu Mobile, WebOS, Open Mobile Alliance and other similar projects and products.
A reminder that LQ now has a dedicated Android sister site: AndroidQuestions.org

Notices


Reply
  Search this Thread
Old 08-14-2015, 04:12 PM   #1
273
LQ Addict
 
Registered: Dec 2011
Location: UK
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
Posts: 6,910

Rep: Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999
How good are cheap Android tablets?


I feel myself wanting to play with Android to see what it is all about.
How usable are these ~150 Android tablets that seem to be all over the place? Are some better than others? Anything to look out for or avoid? Would I be doing my Android experience a disservice by using something of that cheap a price?

I would mainly be wanting to install things like SSH client, MPD remote, VLC remote, perhaps do some web browsing and the like but don't envisage anything 3D or particularly processor intensive. I feel I should also try to reflash the OS and write an app if I can.

Any advice?

For background I was lucky enough to be given an iPad generation 1 years ago by an old employer as a prize. I don't really like the thing but I have enjoyed not liking it, if that makes sense? I've also managed to get things like VLC and an MPD remote working and at one time had a VLC remote which, since a VLC update, has stopped working.
I also, briefly, owned a Sony-Ericsson smart phone running Android which was a bad purchasing decision as it had a tiny and very bad touch screen which I couldn't use. Luckily it was a second phone. (whole long story)
Currently use a Blackberry 9900 as my day-to-day phone and hope not to have to go to non-physical keyboard any time soon and, also, have no need for "apps" beyond the SSH client I have on it.

Last edited by 273; 08-14-2015 at 04:13 PM.
 
Old 08-14-2015, 05:06 PM   #2
sgosnell
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jan 2008
Location: Baja Oklahoma
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 1,054

Rep: Reputation: 279Reputation: 279Reputation: 279
Cheap is usually cheap. To sell something cheap, the materials have to be cheap and the manufacturing process has to be quick and cheap. That doesn't mean the product has to be really expensive, like Apple products, but the rock-bottom-priced product is more likely to be hard to use and perform poorly. I can't really answer your question, because I don't have any modern tablets to compare. I have a very cheap model, but it's so old it requires a stylus to operate it, and I haven't turned it on in several years. The only tablet I have is an Asus Transformer Prime, which was rather expensive back when I bought it new several years ago, and I'm still using it. It still works fine, if a little slower than I would really like. But it gets the job done, and does what I need it to do. The keyboard is decent, and makes input orders of magnitude easier. I don't like on-screen keyboards, which is why I bought the Transformer. It also has its own battery, which charges the tablet battery and gives much longer use without recharging. There are newer models similar to it available, and I would buy one of those if I needed a new device, which I don't so far. It's almost like having a touch-screen laptop. But there are things you can do with Android that just isn't easily done on another OS. Some apps just don't exist on Linux/Windows/OSX, at least in the form they have on Android. IMO, having a good Android tablet is very desirable, if not a requirement. If you like command line, you get a standard Linux terminal, so you can do most things there you could do on Linux. But I would hesitate to buy one of the cheap low-end models. Performance will be lacking, and the user interface may be a little flaky. Spend a little more money and get something better.
 
Old 08-14-2015, 05:11 PM   #3
Timothy Miller
Moderator
 
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Arizona, USA
Distribution: Debian, Fedora & Arch mostly.
Posts: 2,546

Rep: Reputation: 693Reputation: 693Reputation: 693Reputation: 693Reputation: 693Reputation: 693
My wife has one of the NextBooks, which are some of the super cheap tablets you'll see. It's a nice device, works fine, although is lacking in space (only 8 GB onboard), and never got any major Android updates. But I wouldn't hesitate to buy a newer one with a newer version of Android if I were looking for something again.

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 08-14-2015 at 05:15 PM.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 08-14-2015, 05:26 PM   #4
273
LQ Addict
 
Registered: Dec 2011
Location: UK
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
Posts: 6,910

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999
I do have a couple of cheap laptops (broke the screen on the small one and an loath to have it repaired as I think it's faulty by design, but that may not be relevant) so I don't need this as a general-purpose device -- I would be buying the tablet to learn about Android and, as mentioned, to use as a remote-control and that kind of thing. I did look at things like Sphero, for example.
I don't like tablets, particularly, but I do understand that they're useful and I do want to explore Android.
sgosnell I take the point about cheap, see the comment about the laptop above, but I also don't know what "cheap" is in this market. I was blown away that I could buy a laptop with a 500GB harddrive and 6GB of RAM for ~250 (the one I type this on) it may even be a rip-off but it's doing the job.
 
Old 08-14-2015, 05:31 PM   #5
273
LQ Addict
 
Registered: Dec 2011
Location: UK
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
Posts: 6,910

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
My wife has one of the NextBooks, which are some of the super cheap tablets you'll see. It's a nice device, works fine, although is lacking in space (only 8 GB onboard), and never got any major Android updates. But I wouldn't hesitate to buy a newer one with a newer version of Android if I were looking for something again.
Thank you -- that's just the kind of thing I am looking at. Did you play with it at all, install CyanogenMod or anything? I am tempted because they do look pretty decent for the money.
 
Old 08-14-2015, 07:25 PM   #6
syg00
LQ Veteran
 
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Australia
Distribution: Lots ...
Posts: 15,992

Rep: Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218Reputation: 2218
Ahhh - stole my thunder.
I have one of the original (not cheap) ASUS T100 Transformers. Was okay for its time. However, updates stopped coming. So it was time to learn about custom ROMs. As it happens, that unit was popular enough for a dev to both porting Cyanogenmod to it. Took all weekend (and 2 "brick" episodes), but I got it to work eventually.
You may not be so lucky with the (really) cheap units - I've seen several threads here to indicate the same.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 08-14-2015, 08:05 PM   #7
metaschima
Senior Member
 
Registered: Dec 2013
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 1,982

Rep: Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491
I recently bought my first tablet, an IRULU X1 for $100. Yeah, you've probably never heard of it. I bought it off Amazon after comparing reviews. It's actually quite powerful and has plenty of built-in storage. I'd say it is definitely worth it for the price. It hasn't broken yet, but it does have a 1 year warranty. Unless your iPad lasts 5-6 years and the IRULU lasts only 1, then I'd say the iPad is a colossal waste of money, but not if you're a fanboy of course.

Plenty of other cheap tablets. Do make sure to compare battery life. The IRULU X1 has a 5500 mAh battery, which is not bad at all. Other tablets may have weaker batteries, and will last a lot less. You definitely must use a battery saving app if you want reasonable battery life.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 08-14-2015, 08:09 PM   #8
Timothy Miller
Moderator
 
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Arizona, USA
Distribution: Debian, Fedora & Arch mostly.
Posts: 2,546

Rep: Reputation: 693Reputation: 693Reputation: 693Reputation: 693Reputation: 693Reputation: 693
Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
Thank you -- that's just the kind of thing I am looking at. Did you play with it at all, install CyanogenMod or anything? I am tempted because they do look pretty decent for the money.
I didn't bother, it's my wife's, not mine, and it works just fine as is, so she continues to use it with the original Android OS. Only thing I did was put a 32GB micro-sd in it so she had some room and root it, but never taken advantage of it being rooted.

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 08-14-2015 at 09:01 PM.
 
Old 08-15-2015, 05:36 AM   #9
273
LQ Addict
 
Registered: Dec 2011
Location: UK
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
Posts: 6,910

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by metaschima View Post
Do make sure to compare battery life. The IRULU X1 has a 5500 mAh battery, which is not bad at all. Other tablets may have weaker batteries, and will last a lot less. You definitely must use a battery saving app if you want reasonable battery life.
Good point, thanks. While I don't envisage using it away from a source of charge for very long if I decide I like using it you never know. Also, it is a pain to have to keep charging something just to play with it.
 
Old 08-15-2015, 06:19 AM   #10
fatmac
Senior Member
 
Registered: Sep 2011
Location: Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants Border, UK
Distribution: AntiX
Posts: 1,984

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
I had a Motorolo 10", it was quite expensive & heavy/robust, but I couldn't get on with it, as it kept 'reading' my finger pointing wrongly, same when I tried someone elses 7".
(So I dont like tablets, they just don't work properly for me.)
 
Old 08-15-2015, 06:21 AM   #11
273
LQ Addict
 
Registered: Dec 2011
Location: UK
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
Posts: 6,910

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999Reputation: 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatmac View Post
I had a Motorolo 10", it was quite expensive & heavy/robust, but I couldn't get on with it, as it kept 'reading' my finger pointing wrongly, same when I tried someone elses 7".
(So I dont like tablets, they just don't work properly for me.)
This is why I want to buy a cheap one. I can't see me liking it enough to use day-to-day instead of my laptop[s] (you never know though) but I do want to play with Android and there are a few apps I can see myself using long-term (as I did with my iPad).
 
Old 08-15-2015, 06:11 PM   #12
JaseP
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jun 2002
Location: Eastern PA, USA
Distribution: K/Ubuntu 12.04/14.04, Scientific Linux 6.3/6.4, Android-x86, Pretty much all distros at one point...
Posts: 1,799

Rep: Reputation: 157Reputation: 157
My recommendation is that you pick up a refurb that has 1) Gorilla glass & 2) is considered hackable (unlocked bootloader, easily rootable).

If you don't get Gorilla glass, it's likely to break within a year. I bought 2 cheap tablets, years ago. The screens on both broke within 6 mos. each (short drops, onto carpet, shattered digitizers). I ponied up the money for an Acer A500 (wifi version) as a replacement (when it was considered new). Four+ years later, I'm still using that tablet.
 
Old 08-21-2015, 09:46 PM   #13
metaschima
Senior Member
 
Registered: Dec 2013
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 1,982

Rep: Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491
It is a good idea to buy a case for it in case you drop it. I don't know about glass versus plastic screen. I'm thinking the glass screen will probably break easier. I have a smartphone with a glass screen and I did buy a cheap case for it.

I cannot recommend the silicone cases, because silicone is a good insulator and may cause the device to overheat.
 
Old 08-28-2015, 11:02 PM   #14
metaschima
Senior Member
 
Registered: Dec 2013
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 1,982

Rep: Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491Reputation: 491
Close call with my tablet. It just suddenly shut down and would not boot. Luckily a factory reset fixed it. I guess something got corrupted and bricked the device ? So hard to diagnose these things.
 
Old 08-31-2015, 03:24 PM   #15
Ihatewindows522
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2014
Location: Fort Wayne
Distribution: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
Posts: 616
Blog Entries: 2

Rep: Reputation: 166Reputation: 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaseP View Post
My recommendation is that you pick up a refurb that has 1) Gorilla glass & 2) is considered hackable (unlocked bootloader, easily rootable).

If you don't get Gorilla glass, it's likely to break within a year. I bought 2 cheap tablets, years ago. The screens on both broke within 6 mos. each (short drops, onto carpet, shattered digitizers). I ponied up the money for an Acer A500 (wifi version) as a replacement (when it was considered new). Four+ years later, I'm still using that tablet.
That was part of what I was going to say, but the other part is that you want to get updates for a while. You also DO NOT WANT a custom UI, especially Samsung's TouchWiz. They are just extra bloat that you are forced to use and that slow down performance.

My recommendation would be to get a Nexus 7. It will give you a quad core processor, nVIDIA graphics, nice sharp screen, good battery life, and has a very large community base for custom ROMs (and Ubuntu Touch). The only problem I can see is that it has no SD card slot.

You can go much cheaper, especially if you look on eBay.

From experience, I can say that these tablets are very usable (have a Galaxy Tab 2 myself). Coming from an iOS device, Android gives you lots more freedom in what you can do (such as download and upload things from the browser). You can also explore the root filesystem and SD card. External hard drives can also be plugged in, and some devices can even recognize ext4.

Something else worth noting about Android is that speed and battery life greatly improve from version to version. For example I had a 1st gen Moto g with Android 4.4. The battery on that lasted all day quite easily. On my new 2nd gen Moto e with Android 5.1 (pretty much same specs otherwise) gets several days on battery. Even given I don't get many long phone calls, that's quite good.
 
  


Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
LXer: Preview: Office for Android tablets is like Office for iPad, but on Android LXer Syndicated Linux News 0 11-27-2014 11:41 AM
LXer: September's best Android tablets LXer Syndicated Linux News 0 09-05-2014 09:00 AM
LinDroid replacement of Android for Tablets? Xeratul Debian 1 12-26-2012 07:00 AM
Sony to launch Android tablets Jeebizz Linux - News 0 04-26-2011 10:15 AM
About Android tablets and their App Stores blahblalblah General 2 02-25-2011 01:38 AM

LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Mobile

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:58 PM.

Main Menu
Advertisement
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration