Android tablet

So you woke up Christmas morning and were greeted by a shiny new Android tablet under the tree.  After charging it up a little while trying on that sweater you also got, you finally have some time to sit down and play with your new toy -- only to find yourself completely lost, facing things like hardware issues, missing the Android Market, and little to no instuctions included with your gift.

You're not alone -- our inbox has nearly collapsed with questions from folks just like you, in the same predicament. We're going to lay it all out right here. Well, not right here, more like after the break.  You knew where I was going. Read on.

Craplets, caveat emptor, and all that jazz

We have to start here.  I know it doesn't help much if you already have your Android tablet, but we have to address the influx of very low end hardware carrying the badge of our little green friend.

Because Android is free for anyone to build and drop on their devices (yes, even you could download, compile it and slap on compatible hardware), it means there are a lot of crap tablets -- craplets -- out there.  That's not saying they are all bad, you just have to know what to look for.  Read any and all reviews, use some common sense, and try to find something that has some decent specs. These really are the minimums you should be looking for

  • A processor running at 800 MHz or higher
  • 512 megabytes of RAM
  • Android 2.1.1 or higher
  • A minimum of 8 GB storage, ideally an SD card slot for expandable storage

That's not to say that nothing else will work, but you'll be much happier if you pick up something close to the above.  Want some recommendations?  Besides the obvious choice of the Galaxy Tab, look at the Viewsonic Gtab, one of the new Archos tablets, or the Nook Color (if you're not afraid to hack it up).

The Android Market

Google's applications that run on Android -- we're talking Gmail, the Android Market and the like -- are not free and open source.  They are subject to whatever rules Google uses to determine which manufacturers can include them, and which can't.  Using them without Google's consent is out and out stealing.

But we understand that everyone wants Gmail and the Android Market on their tablet -- and we can't really blame anyone for that. If Google's core apps aren't installed on your new tablet, you'll have to find a way to get them on there yourself.  If you're comfortable enough to root and move a few files around, it's probably pretty easy.  Find the right version of Gapps for your screen size and Android version, and use trial and error to get them in place.

Be sure you have a way to restore your unit to factory settings -- notice we said trial and error.  Errors sometimes mean wiping and starting all over again.  Often, a quick trip into the forums will find someone else trying to do the exact same thing.  Forums are the lifeblood of Android modification.  Use them well, and often.  Just don't blame us if the Google Gestapo comes knocking on your door.

Hardware issues

Sometimes, these things just aren't going to work.  Looping boot sequences, units that won't turn on, and systems freezing and crashing can be frustrating -- especially if you haven't done anything to cause it.  As above, your first stop should be the forums.  A lot of times, there are easy fixes that have been figured out after talking with tech support.  Knowledge is power after all.

If you can't find someone that worked through a similar issue, the next logical step is tech support from the manufacturer.  We can't cover every tablet maker here, but we can provide a bit of info for the manufacturers of the tablets we're hearing about the most.

Everything else

Have questions about setting up WiFi?  Or how about managing your multimedia?  All your general Android questions are easily answered in the forums.  Start right here, register and introduce yourself, then by all means ASK QUESTIONS.  We're a big happy family here, and you'll find the help you need to enjoy your new tablet.  I'll see ya there!

 
There are 13 comments

ARich91 says:

I got an Archos 101 for Christmas.
It's not perfect, but I gotta say I'm glad I got it. The media capabilities are nice, especially with hdmi out. Much simpler to just connect it to my tv and start than getting out my laptop and charger, and worrying about the fans not wanting to start (which is weird)

aHTCfart says:

SMH. Apple releases their Ipad and now everyone has to release one. These Tablets/Ipads are pointless. Especially when you have a phone that does the SAME THING/MORE. Who wanna be seen out in public with a big block in their hand looking like a big douche. Lol seriously though You'd be better off with a mini laptop that does more/cost the same.

I see where the "droid" term came from with all these people buying stuff like this.

popezaphod says:

I have barely touched my laptop since I got my GTablet. I'd rather use a nice, fast tablet than squint at my phone or try and balance a laptop on my lap.

debsawyer says:

I purchased the NextBook from HSN and it is a piece of crap. I put it back in the box the same day to send it back. This so called Android tablet or e-book reader stressed me out big time. It's not touchable and the keyboard does not work correctly at all. Every key I press a certain letter something else comes up. The wireless looses signal. This one was not worth $50 dollars but has a $200 price tag. I guess I will have to wait to see what CES has to offer but I am not paying for junk anymore.

Jjpp23 says:

HSN? REALLY?

Go Android! says:

Hey the Evo was on HSN!

The Nextbook was not worth the $200 purchased from HSN. After numerous attempts to get this crab to work with the assistance of E-Fun Support, I'm resigned that I purchased a table that is worthless. Can't download games (phone line does not support application). Can only connect to the internet.

This tablet P18 was supposed to be fully loaded, but when I tried use the Office Suite, a pop-up said I needed to upgrade at a cost. I'd already paid too much for this P18 that does not work.

Tech support personnel is nice, but they can't get this thing to work.

DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY

rogeratm says:

I got a Samsung Tablet and am very happy with it. I carry it everywhere and have completely stopped using my Netbook and cut way down on the use of my laptop.

With the external keyboard, I could probably eliminate most uses for my laptop (it is also my work computer) at home. Obviously, I still need the laptop for serious work such as photo editing and desktop publishing.

I am already using the Tab for PowerPoint shows and am very happy with that.

petaf says:

I have an ipad, and a Galaxy Tab. My ipad is gathering dust. Must sell it. I find the GTab much easier to carry around and I love it. There are a ton of apps on the ipad that are still not optimized for it, and it's just too big and heavy to lug around imho.

How can i check for the software upgrade on my tmobile galaxy tab.can some one help

Das_Negros says:

Reeived a Viewsonic G Tablet for Christmas....not to my liking after it booted up....I went to droidpirate.com...Mod the hell outta it and took off the CrapNCrap and the thing is AMAZING....Added android market and all the apps needed and the thing flys. AWESOME TABLET NOW ! ! ! !

Hey there I have a nexus 7, I need help. Every time I attempt to upload a music file to any music related website I instantly get "no app can perform this action" yet I can upload pictures to the same site.
What app do I need?

willor says:

Hello please help. My Samsung tab2 7.0 tablet (not a phone) began a two minute long beeping at 7:26 a.m. every day and cannot be stopped. I have done three factory resets, turned off all sounds everywhere I can find, but yet it beeps.