Author Topic: Tablet recommendations  (Read 14598 times)

FastStache

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Tablet recommendations
« on: October 01, 2013, 09:44:41 PM »
I'm looking to purchase a tablet for a stay at home mom. It might be used while the baby is napping after nursing and it's tough to stay awake during those times.

Requirements
decent camera/camcorder
8" screen
web surfing capability
Wifi only - no 3g/4g etc.
basic word processing/excel
decent resolution - doesn't need to be next gen
Headphone plug or capability for wireless earphones

Max budget is 150, but if I can beat this I'll be more than happy to.

Kira

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2013, 07:50:57 AM »
I had a 7" Nexus that I got at Staples for $180 ($200 plus $20 off coupon) and I found it plenty fast for anything I tried to do with it. I didn't specifically try to do word processing but I am sure it would have handled Google Docs just fine. I did do a video call with it once and the camera was great. You might be able to get a used one on eBay for $150. If you want a bigger screen there is also a 10" version but that is more expensive. I found the 7" size great for stuffing in my purse - but be careful, that's how I lost mine. :)

There are a lot of competitor tablets out there that are cheap, but you get what you pay for. I haven't seen consistently good reviews on Coby or the other cheap brands.

bogart

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 08:14:13 AM »
I also have a Nexus 7 (first gen, they are now on round 2) and I love it.  I did even put a remote desktop app on it allowing me to connect with my regular computer and access all the programs that has (like Excel and Word), but I have to say, I cannot work effectively on the Nexus -- I can make a few changes to a file on the fly if I need to, but that's about it.  I did look into whether ANY tablet would replace a laptop when my work "owed" me a new laptop (replacement schedule) a few months back and in the end decided the answer was no -- that for the price, the tablets that got close were too expensive and not small/portable enough to improve on the laptop functionality.

I don't use the camera on my Nexus at all.  Can't comment on that.  I can say it's pretty sturdy; I've dropped it 4 times, including on the sidewalk running for a bus, and it has survived.

Long story short it is sturdy and readily portable, GREAT for consumption (accessing things on the web, pdfs, and ebooks -- I have a Kindle app), good for communication (gmail; I do have an add-on real bluetooth keyboard I bought at Newegg.com for about $25), and pretty lousy for creation or even editing of real documents.  But my general sense is that this is true of tablets across the board.

Sparafusile

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2013, 08:16:38 AM »
Came in to say Nexus 7 and facepunch anybody saying iPad. I guess I'm not needed here.

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2013, 08:53:52 AM »
A good alternate to the first-gen Nexus 7 if you're down with shopping at Wally World would be the Hisense Sero 7 Pro, which is basically a Nexus 7 with a few feature additions missing from it combined with a slightly cheaper display, memory throughput and build quality that sells for $130 new.

Have a few reviews:
http://www.androidcentral.com/hisense-sero-7-pro-review
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/06/review-the-hisense-sero-7-pro-is-a-nexus-7-clone-for-50-less/
http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/hisense-sero-7-pro/4505-3126_7-35771034.html
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2424041,00.asp

You're also simply not going to get a great camera/camcorder out of a fixed lens digital camera slapped onto a tablet.

Edit: You're also not really going to be able to be productive and do "work" on a tablet. These things are designed to be media consumption devices, not desktop replacements. There's office suite apps available for Android, but it's a poor substitute for a keyboard and a desktop operating system.

As for the 8+" screen size, that's a relatively uncommon form factor size in the cheap end of tablet computing that's mostly going to be filled with the absolutely flimsy Coby-grade electronics on the market that are built for sale at your local Walgreens on an endcap next to the As Seen On TV display. Either be willing to step down to seven inches, or consider doubling the budget.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 09:08:32 AM by I.P. Daley »

jrhampt

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2013, 09:24:45 AM »
I was reading a thread on Bogleheads yesterday and saw a recommendation for the Android tablet Nextbook 8 which is selling at Wal-Mart for $99.  I would also check groupon goods for sales - I recently got a refurbished 10 inch tablet for $85, and it's been fine so far.  I picked up a case/keyboard for it on Amazon for $12, and I like having the keyboard option in addition to the touch screen.

fiveoh

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2013, 12:50:59 PM »
Surface RT.  I picked a refurb up on ebay for $199 with the touch cover.  It has the full Microsoft office suite(minus outlook but they are supposedly adding that).  The touch cover makes it a LOT easier to type on.  I know that's $50 over your budget but it is worth it.  :)  The office suite alone usually costs 100+

Spork

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2013, 01:34:22 PM »
I guess I am always the contrarian.  Sorry for that.

All I have to say is to make sure a tablet is really what you want.  I have one (that I got for free).  For me it is the "I am too lazy to get out of my chair to look up an actor on IMDB while the TV is on" box.  It really has very little function other than that.  I don't particularly care for the interface.

I absolutely prefer a tactile box with a real keyboard.   Most people disagree with me... just check and make sure you're not one of them.  It was the "word processor" that made me worry.  I would absolutely abhor using a tablet to actually type more than 3 or 4 words.

twbird18

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2013, 03:40:03 PM »
I would second the RT - it's runs much more like a laptop with all the great features of a tablet.  The second gen comes out soon & I would expect you could buy a refurbished or used for under $150 after that happens. 

Petari

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2013, 04:14:23 PM »
The Surface RT is an interesting choice. I don't own one, but here are my thoughts:

* Full Word and Excel, potentially very handy if you work with non-trivial documents
* I was underwhelmed by the Touch Cover (this is hugely an opinion thing though) but found the Type Cover surprisingly good (this is like 15 minutes of store use though, try this yourself before buying if at all possible
* Downside of the covers: there's no rigid hinge, so balancing the thing on your lap when trying to use a cover to type might not work too well. It's fine if you have a surface (tee hee) when you want to do serious typing, but it is something to keep in mind
* Refurbs seem quite plentiful on eBay right now, which makes this one of the cheapest 10" tablets (since there's nothing like the Nexus 7 pushing down price in the 10" space)
* App selection won't be huge, so if you want all the latest games and whatever productivity apps you might find it lacking. You're well covered for web browsing and Office though.
* You could plug a full keyboard, mouse, and monitor into it. Depending on the number of computers in your house this might be useful or maybe not at all.

If it's what you need, I think it would be very important to try this one before you buy to make sure it's what you're looking for.

gimp

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2013, 05:30:35 PM »
Dell just announced an 8-inch android tablet for $180. That's $30 above your budget, unfortunately, but fits the other specs.

As others have said, the idea of doing real work on a tablet is an empty promise that made a lot of people have a lot of buyer's remorse.

Alternative that gives you a real keyboard: A Chromebook.

My personal alternative is a raspberry pi and a motorola atrix/bionic lapdock that together with some wires, adapters, sd card, wifi module, and hackery, make a $135 netbook with a 10-11" screen. But I wouldn't recommend that to anyone...

jpap

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2013, 05:35:54 PM »
I'll second the nextbook 8.  For $99 at walmart, it works just fine for light browsing and email.

StarryC

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2013, 05:49:22 PM »
It might be used while the baby is napping after nursing and it's tough to stay awake during those times.

Sleep when the baby sleeps, no need for a tablet? 

But, I really like my 7" Kindle Fire (non HD).  It doesn't meet your requirements (no excel, no camera).  It is not a "work" tool, and my guess is no 8" tablet is really going to be capable of handling much of an excel spreadsheet. 

NickNam

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2013, 11:41:53 PM »
The Nook HD+ would be well suited for your needs except no camera. It has a 9 inch 1080p screen, cheap ($149 for new) directly from Barnes and Nobles, access to Google play do download games and apps. Overall an excellent value for the money though not exactly what you're looking for. You can find an even cheaper deal if you look around.

As said above, do you really NEED a tablet? Not really but it's mightly nice to have one! :D

arebelspy

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2013, 10:36:48 AM »
Not a single vote for iPad, huh?

I'll toss it out there then.

I wouldn't go without an iPad.  I'd go without a computer before I went without an iPad.

And I wouldn't own any other tablet.  (And I have, and didn't care for them.  I can't stand Android, FWIW.)

All of this is, essentially, personal preference.
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jrhampt

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2013, 10:41:04 AM »
I guess I'm willing to pony up $85 for a tablet, but I'm not spending over $500 on one.  Maybe someday when I'm rich like you ;-)

gimp

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2013, 10:42:05 AM »
Not a single vote for iPad, huh?

I'll toss it out there then.

I wouldn't go without an iPad.  I'd go without a computer before I went without an iPad.

And I wouldn't own any other tablet.  (And I have, and didn't care for them.  I can't stand Android, FWIW.)

All of this is, essentially, personal preference.

Hey, if we're going fancy, I'd say Nexus 10. Ipads are... well, polished, but very expensive.

But the main issue is that it's at least three-four times more than the allotted budget.

iamlindoro

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2013, 10:42:47 AM »
In defense of the iPad, I far prefer it to the android tablets I've owned and worked with, and agree that in the end, it is a matter of personal preference *functionality-wise*.  That is to say, if all tablets were free, people should use the one which worked most intuitively to them, which had the apps which worked best for their needs, and whose total ecosystem was most compatible with their lives.

That said, I would not recommend an iPad purchase to a mustachian.  They are a luxury (expensive) option and are only an acceptable purchase through the lens of mustachianism when you are debt free and have more income than you can possibly spend on non-luxury items-- which is precious few people.  I make my living doing iOS development right now, and derive several passive income streams from iOS apps of my own.  It is a tool and nothing more, and an essential part of my business.  The fact that I also happen to like it compared to other tablets is immaterial.

arebelspy

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2013, 10:45:10 AM »
But the main issue is that it's at least three-four times more than the allotted budget.

You all don't have Craigslist?

The fact that I also happen to like it compared to other tablets is immaterial.

I'd argue that's the most important thing in choosing one (needing one for work/development aside).

A tablet you're "meh" on using sits around and is a waste of money, even if it is half the cost of the one you are excited to us and use daily.
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iamlindoro

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2013, 10:46:57 AM »
The fact that I also happen to like it compared to other tablets is immaterial.

I'd argue that's the most important thing in choosing one (needing one for work/development aside).

A tablet you're "meh" on using sits around and is a waste of money, even if it is half the cost of the one you are excited to us and use daily.

I was really only referring to my own situation-- I like the iPad, but own it because it it is a source of income and essential to that income.  For *me*, if I did not have the income, I wouldn't have a tablet.

FunkyStickman

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2013, 10:57:14 AM »
I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" that I picked up on sale for $170, it's quite nice. Doesn't have the best camera, but everything else on it is pretty great. Now that the Tab 3's are out, they should go down in price.

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2013, 07:17:25 PM »
I've found that the Barnes and Noble Nook HD+ is quite a decent tablet.  I got it on a kinda shady sale, it was supposed to be $149 and come with a 50$ gift card, but it rang up as 99$ and you were supposed to buy the 50$ gift card to make it 149$.  Fine print worked in my favor.  Immediately exchanged the 50$ gift card to amazon gift card(might as well be cash) so basically 49.99.

It's quick, great image quality, sound quality isn't horrible but could use a little bit of a boost.  No camera but I would feel awkward taking pictures with a tablet.  Fits in my Army uniform cargo pocket.  Also has an expansion slot for Micro SD, which was a huge buying factor for me, which is why I wouldn't buy a nexus 7 or Ipad, or Kindle.  16gb on board, 64gb SD card. 

Would I pay full 149 price for it? Hard to say, at my current juncture, no.  But I have found I have little need or use for a tablet currently.  When I go back to school next year, it will be worth it though.

Just my .02$

DocCyane

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2013, 08:32:57 PM »
Another vote for the iPad! But obviously not if your price point is $150. I doubt you could get a second gen for that, and 5th gen is coming out in a few weeks.

Hardware is important, but for me it's about the software. Having so many apps to choose from in the App Store is wonderful and knowing they're been vetted by Apple gives me more confidence.

If it's just for someone to play on the Internet and get email, agreed -- get whatever is cheap. If you want a more productive device, I recommend the iPad. And as for cost, having this iPad has allowed me to delay the purchase of a new computer. Something to consider.

Sent from my iPad.

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2013, 09:01:41 AM »
Having so many apps to choose from in the App Store is wonderful and knowing they're been vetted by Apple gives me more confidence.

This is one of the main reasons I don't like the current trend of computing.  I've been around a while.  There was a time way in the past where there were multiple computer platforms: windows, apple, 20+ unixes... None of them worked together.  It was a royal pain.  Some smart folks at NCSA invented this webby thing... and there was an explosion.  Suddenly the platform didn't matter.  Suddenly there was a ubiquitous similar platform.    ...and then apps came along and started appifying everything.  Suddenly instead of one bit of well looked over software, you have thousands of apps written by varying levels of professional programmers.

Now instead of a common app that can (for example) play an mp3 stream.... you have one that can play radio station X and another that can play radio station Y.  And each has to be separately developed and compiled for various platforms.

Mega

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2013, 10:29:38 AM »
Essentially, tablets are great for viewing information. Full fat computers with keyboards are better for entering information. Get the right device for your needs.


The typing speed on a tablet is essentially "hunt & peck" speed... one finger at a time. And you better have tiny & accurate fingers, because it is a pain to go back and correct what you wrote.

I have used both an iPad (v1, was gift from work) and Android. I much prefer Android as it is much more user controllable / customizable. YMMV.

The newer tablets are MUCH lighter than the older ones... which is why it may be worth getting a newer one. Your wrists will begin to hurt after extended use.

sleepyguy

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #25 on: October 04, 2013, 12:19:04 PM »
Asus Memo HD 7 ($160 can't be beat).  Fantastic tablet for the price.

Rural

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #26 on: October 04, 2013, 08:03:36 PM »
I own both and will say that if you are paying for it yourself, first, determine that you actually need one and/or that you would like one more than you would like the retirement time that that money could buy you, compounded. If one of these is the case, get a cheap Android.

If someone else is buying, though. Ipad. I love love love(d) my Nexus 7. Then I wrote a grant application for an ipad (small in-house thingy at work) and won one. That was January, and since then I've used the Nexus for a loaner device for students when doing BYOD activities in class and for cross-platform testing of new apps. That's all; no other Nexus use at all. I use the ipad more than I use a full computer, and I teach online. I write code and spreadsheets on a computer still, but not much else.

The preceding was touch-typed on my ipad.

Caveat: I agree with Spork on the dangerous trend away from cross-platform compatibility. I think the pendulum will swing back the other way in a couple of years, tops.

theSchmett

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #27 on: October 04, 2013, 08:13:29 PM »
Spring for this: http://store.apple.com/us/product/FD528LL/A/refurbished-ipad-mini-with-wi-fi-16gb-black-slate

Apples refurbs are as good/better than new. Same warranty. Less money. Brown box (not fancy white).

Then get the foldy cover keyboard thing from Zagg.

I use a refurb iPad2 with a Zagg keyboard I got on a 50% sale. My Nook Color sits attached to a stereo just to play Spotify - which it does rather poorly.

Nords

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2013, 09:45:20 PM »
Requirements
decent camera/camcorder
8" screen
web surfing capability
Wifi only - no 3g/4g etc.
basic word processing/excel
decent resolution - doesn't need to be next gen
Headphone plug or capability for wireless earphones
Max budget is 150, but if I can beat this I'll be more than happy to.
I'm not an Apple fanboi by any stretch of the imagination, but you naysayers need to listen to Arebelspy.  Grow some bristles.

Our local Craigslist has two iPad2 sellers right now who are desperate and would go for under $200:
http://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/sys/4055236976.html
http://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/ele/4017614762.html
"Only" 16GB, no 3G (not even a slot for a card), meets all of her specs and would probably be sold for $150 after the haggling ends.  With a few weeks of dedicated stalking in a larger metropolis, I suspect $150 would be even easier. 

I've done this twice in the last year with two different iPad2s of the same specs, one at $300 and the other at $225.  (That's how fast prices are dropping.)  One of them replaced my daughter's college Macbook, and it's in use at least eight hours a day.  The other is my travel machine.  They're perfect for what FastStache is seeking.  If she wants a more powerful machine then she could add a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard (~$75) and the "Pages" app ($10).  I just finished a week in Houston with that setup, and I'm writing a book on it.  My biggest whine is that I can't tile a document next to a website like I do on a 23" monitor, but the book is getting written just as quickly.

arebelspy

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2013, 10:52:15 PM »
Only problem is how firm the OP is on 8" screen.  That would require the OP to be okay with the larger screen, or go iPad Mini, which may be harder to find for $150 used.

EDIT: nevermind, $200 does occur on Craigslist, so you may be able to get one for 150 with some patience and haggling.  If you like the 8" size and aren't in a rush, that's what I'd do, otherwise go with an iPad 2.  Unless you prefer android, of course.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2013, 11:00:17 PM by arebelspy »
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Left

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #30 on: October 05, 2013, 04:19:24 AM »
hm, why is the screensize a problem? A tablet with a hdmi cable should fix the problem. Anyways, with it plugged into a computer monitor and bluetooth keyboard/mouse. I don't have any problems using it as a "computer" except I can't run heavy games.

Watching movies/word processing/etc are all fine. I can even open windows side-by-side since monitor is large enough to fit it. If I wanted a "desktop" feel, I've can also boot into ubuntu on it.

Not to say this setup would be good, but when I'm at my desk, I just plug in monitor and turn on mouse/keyboard then put tablet inside desk drawer and nothing else on desktop. When I step away, I just unplug and go. It's for this reason that I don't see draw to Windows Surface tablet. I'd be restricted to a small keyboard and small screen when I have option to use normal size screen/keyboard

all that said, my tablet is 10" and not 8" :S but I wouldn't be surprised if there was one already or coming soon.

edit: found out Amazon's kindle fire has hdmi output, should work for monitor but can't test it myself
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 04:26:00 AM by eyem »

Nords

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2013, 11:53:49 AM »
A tablet with a hdmi cable should fix the problem.
Heh-- for that solution I guess I'd need to have a TV or a monitor that could handle a HDMI cable.

Unless, of course, there's an adapter to convert HDMI to the red/white/yellow RCA jacks on our 29" CRT TV...

Regardless of the size of the display, my iPad still has an annoying habit of substituting the Chrome window for the Pages window whenever I decide to try to look something up online.  It'd be a little bit faster to have the two windows tiled side-by-side when I'm moving between the two programs, but I haven't yet taken the time to learn whether that can be done.

Left

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #32 on: October 05, 2013, 01:17:56 PM »
of course there is :D http://www.amazon.com/RCA-VH6HCN-Mini-Cable-Black/dp/B003BEDSBA, or there are full sized hdmi cables too.

I have an old touch pro 2 phone... I can plug it into a tv :D with it

android works a bit better for multi tasking. There's an app that lets you open multiple "browser windows" and lay them side by side. Plus there's an task tray on android that lets you switch between apps pretty easily.

I can't comment on ipad... dont' got one
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 01:19:59 PM by eyem »

FunkyStickman

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #33 on: October 08, 2013, 06:24:33 AM »
Heh-- for that solution I guess I'd need to have a TV or a monitor that could handle a HDMI cable.

Unless, of course, there's an adapter to convert HDMI to the red/white/yellow RCA jacks on our 29" CRT TV...

I feel your pain....


(EDIT) I removed the link to that cable... it's not an active converter. The HDMI to RCA converter boxes run about $40, so it's still not that bad...
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 06:26:50 AM by FunkyStickman »

Nords

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2013, 08:36:09 AM »
Heh-- for that solution I guess I'd need to have a TV or a monitor that could handle a HDMI cable.

Unless, of course, there's an adapter to convert HDMI to the red/white/yellow RCA jacks on our 29" CRT TV...
I feel your pain....
(EDIT) I removed the link to that cable... it's not an active converter. The HDMI to RCA converter boxes run about $40, so it's still not that bad...
The TV that $40 converter box would go to was picked up curbside for free!

FunkyStickman

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #35 on: October 08, 2013, 09:00:18 AM »
Heh-- for that solution I guess I'd need to have a TV or a monitor that could handle a HDMI cable.

Unless, of course, there's an adapter to convert HDMI to the red/white/yellow RCA jacks on our 29" CRT TV...
I feel your pain....
(EDIT) I removed the link to that cable... it's not an active converter. The HDMI to RCA converter boxes run about $40, so it's still not that bad...
The TV that $40 converter box would go to was picked up curbside for free!

So you'd have an HDMI-ready TV for $40? Not bad... :)

Nords

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #36 on: October 08, 2013, 09:48:15 AM »
So you'd have an HDMI-ready TV for $40? Not bad... :)
Good point!  I'm sure my spouse will be impressed and comforted with that assurance (I don't watch TV).

I wonder if that would finally turn her into a Hulu Plus convert:  16 Mbps RoadRunner, WiFi to an iPad, and a HDMI converter to a 29" CRT.  Kinda like putting a NASCAR engine and racing slicks onto a '72 Volkswagon Beetle.

Daley

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #37 on: October 08, 2013, 10:14:32 AM »
So you'd have an HDMI-ready TV for $40? Not bad... :)
Good point!  I'm sure my spouse will be impressed and comforted with that assurance (I don't watch TV).

I wonder if that would finally turn her into a Hulu Plus convert:  16 Mbps RoadRunner, WiFi to an iPad, and a HDMI converter to a 29" CRT.  Kinda like putting a NASCAR engine and racing slicks onto a '72 Volkswagon Beetle.

Those HDMI adapters never work very well, and for about the same money if you keep a sharp eye out, you can buy a Roku LT which has the older analog composite out already built in. If you're going to pay for Hulu+ and drop around $50 to do it, you might as well get a functional solution as opposed to a hacked together one.

FunkyStickman

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Re: Tablet recommendations
« Reply #38 on: October 08, 2013, 10:38:52 AM »
Those HDMI adapters never work very well, and for about the same money if you keep a sharp eye out, you can buy a Roku LT which has the older analog composite out already built in. If you're going to pay for Hulu+ and drop around $50 to do it, you might as well get a functional solution as opposed to a hacked together one.

Very good point, $10 more gets you a complete standalone device. Good call, I.P.D.