cheap small device (but with keyboard) specifically for surfing Web - recommendations?

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Happy Camper

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Congrats on your purchase!

While you probably already know, I thought I would mention it.

The Android (and iOS) apps for Netflix and Amazon prime video will allow you to download a limited number of episodes or movies. So when you're by free wifi you can download those and watch later if you don't want to use your data plan.

You might also want to consider getting a microsSD card for extra storage at some point. One of the perks of Android.
 

Happy Camper

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Hi Morgana, I was curious on how your purchase has worked out for your planned use.

There was a lot of great input, so I was thinking a follow-up might help inform those in a similar situation. Or maybe it's too soon still.
 

Morgana

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Sure, here goes -- It's working out pretty well overall ...

I did not realize how spoiled I was with the Macbook keyboard, but since I'm not trying to use this for high-volume (or any) productivity that's really not the end of the world.

It's a slight learning curve to put Android to such heavy use (though my phone is Android so it's not that big of a stretch) -- just the usual 101 things where muscle memory kicks in and you have to re-learn it.

Since my purpose in getting this was to have something completely separate from my main system (it's on free WiFi, while my Mac is working off my phone hotspot), to use only for free anonymous stuff, I made up a separate Gmail address just to use for tablet-related things and that was enough to get me into the Google Play Store, which is almost essential to get the tablet to function. Nice that they don't make you give a credit card unless you actually want to buy something.

It's mildly annoying to have to put a Chinese wall between paid/sign-in activities and free/anonymous activities, but if I ever get into an income bracket where I don't have to occasionally do mildly annoying things, I'll let you know ...

Since I'm not using this at sign-in sites (and that rules out e.g. Amazon) I have to work a little harder to find free shows but there does seem to be stuff out there.

Still trying to figure out how to stop videos from opening in the YouTube app instead of the browser (makes it impossible to navigate or bookmark). I THINK if I just disable YouTube app it will be OK. Weird how some YouTube products will flip you to the app and others will stay in the browser.

Haven't got AdBlocker or the like yet, so I am seeing a lot more ads, especially on this forum (not a complaint, just a reality check), than I did on the Macbook where I had it fully tweaked. (Of course my forum settings are already set to minimize ads.)

Have been having weird problem with the Macbook eating tons more data than expected even though I'm using it in such a restricted way. (I've used the phone as a hotspot before and it wasn't like this.) I'm guessing it's some background function that I haven't been able to pinpoint, though I've sure been looking and experimenting and setting all the preferences I can find. Fancy bandwidth-gobbling website features suddenly seem more annoying than impressive! I can't imagine any way this issue could be connected to the tablet, though; it must be something going on on the Mac. So the tablet hasn't started paying for itself yet but if I can get this problem sorted, it will in 2-3 months).

It does take up a fair amount of space having two devices set up at once, even though I got the smallest keyboard I could find. If someone else wanted to do this, it might be worth seeing if you could get by with just the virtual keyboard on the tablet.

One that probably won't affect most people but fwiw: I wasted two hours on level-1 tech support at Logitech only to find out you can't make diacritical marks the way I'm used to -- still, you can use the Unicode combinations (like you would on a Windows machine) or you can turn off the external keyboard and do it just like you'd do on a phone or tablet, press-hold the key until the diacritical mark options show up.

I think a lot of it comes down to just gradually building up new habits. It does seem workable (or will be if I can get the MacBook problem sorted).
 

Happy Camper

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I'm a little confused how the MacBook data usage ties to the tablet. The are a number of ways to restrict data usage.

For movies and shows you can get a number of decent free streaming apps. I might try to list those on another thread.

Did you get a separate keyboard or a keyboard case? I prefer separate when I have the option in most situations.

They've you can use the save, star, or share options. I have two phones on different emails that I do this with. I'll share a video with text or email to the other phone. Since you have email set up with the tablet, you can save and bookmark your videos. And email the links to your main email. They just won't be automatically shared with your other devices.

If you don't already have one, I suggest you get a touch stylus. It makes things faster and more convenient it ways you wouldn't think of. Also take advantage of voice to text when possible. Download and try Gboard keyboard if the standard keyboard isn't cutting it.
 

Morgana

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Like I said, I'm not implying that the Macbook data issue is connected to the tablet -- though I would not rule it out, because I am not a computer expert and not everything works the way that seems "obvious" to me. I am familiar with most of the obvious steps to limit data (and as I mentioned, have used them before), so that is going to be a harder nut to crack. As mentioned I have already been experimenting and keeping track; once I've got a better sense of it I'll check in with an expert. This issue is relevant to anyone who might want to try this route (minimize rather than totally block use of phone data), whether or not it's directly connected to the tablet, and that's why I mentioned it.

As mentioned, I know that there are free streaming sites that don't require a sign-in or sharing of personal info; I've queued up several to try when I have time. As mentioned I did get a separate keyboard for the tablet. The keyboard can be configured to accommodate up to three devices. But equipment that would enable me to share would not be helpful because as mentioned the whole point is to keep this device isolated from the others.

Trying to minimize costs (in fact, that was the whole purpose for doing this), so I probably won't be getting more equipment to go with this soon. I was thinking I'd need a mouse but I'm getting around fine with the touch screen.

Hope this info is helpful, as you suggested, to someone who might want to try this in the future.
 

Willy

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I'm a bit late to the party, & it's kinda moot since you've already bought something, but I'll chip in anyway cuz somebody else could be in your original situation. For the last decade I've been using used Dell business class latitude tablets bought off Ebay. They're generally Milspec rated & dirt cheap. The really nice thing about them is that they're built to be serviced & upgraded to some extent, being a breeze to disassemble. Right now I'm using a Latitude 5285 w. keyboard that I picked up for $155.00 USD on Ebay. I wasn't too thrilled with the battery life, so picked a new 1 off Amazon.ca for $67.19 CDN & swapped it out. It now gets insane battery life & I'm contemplating migrating the OS to my 1 TB NVME SSD & swapping out the 256 GB 1 that's presently in there.
While business laptops/tablets might not be all that *sexy* they're generally built like tanks & are cheap to service/upgrade. Often enough they can even have some remaining warranty &, as I found with a Latitude laptop with 1(!!!) stuck pixel in the top left corner I bought from a student a number of years ago (still had over a year of warranty left), they'll send a repair guy to YOU to fix problems within a week. I was visiting my parents at the time & buddy showed up with a brand new lcd screen, swapped out the old 1, tested it.. & left! ..Willy.
 

FredW

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"...there are relatively easy instructions out there to convert it to a generic Android tablet."
I didn't convert the 8" Fire tablet I bought four years ago to generic Android, but I *did* do some simple mods that I found YouTube videos for that lets me use Google Play to get Google's apps. In other words, I still have the single home screen; but by organizing menu items into folders I'm able to use the small real estate to make all my apps available from the home screen, and overall I've been happy with the tablet considering its ~$50 cost.

I don't use it too much, but I found that the screen is large enough to be able (with glasses) to read my songs for ukulele lyrics and chords pages while balancing the tablet on my knee and playing, and my wife uses YouTube on it for meditation and exercise videos.

Regarding Android updates: I've found that my older phones that have Android 4.4.4 are really getting hard to use -- the apps that work are slow and many new apps won't run, i.e., aren't available. But a phone I have that has Android 8 still does pretty well, so I don't worry much about having the latest version.
 
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KarlH

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Not recommended: Any sort of Android tablet like that Samsung recommended above. I'd bet decent money that these won't even be on the market in the next year or two, and the mfg's record for supporting system/security updates is poor. Amazon owns the low-end of the tablet market, and Apple owns the mid- to high-end.

At least when it comes to phones, Samsung has cleaned up their act quite a bit. But I agree with you that for a long time Android vendors were really bad about that.
 
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