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Android Music Hardware

Ask Slashdot: How to Pimp My Android Tablet? 154

Posted by timothy
from the ain't-easy-but-it's-necessary dept.
New submitter capsfan100 writes "At Christmas I got an $89 Android tablet by MID. The 7" tablet has sufficient RAM, etc. The battery, however, was rather pathetic out of the box. It's already fading, so we know where this is headed — decent tablet, but it constantly needs the plug. How would you take this 'old' tablet and turn it into a rockin' stereo component? Is there a ROM build out there titled Pimp My Tablet Into An MP3 Player? The current music app can look up lyrics on-line. I'd like to keep that feature. Any ideas on a good app for syncing music videos with my *ahem* random music collection? Any fun, off-beat party apps this middle-aged suburban dad hasn't heard of? Since the Android security nightmare is so well documented, I'd rather not use services that require passwords. I also need top-notch security and monitoring software so I can see what my kids and their friends are doing with it next year when I'm not home while keeping them anonymous and safe on-line. As for my living room stereo system, how best to mount a sleek MP3 tablet? I was thinking velcro, but it would ruin the feel. Maybe a wall-mount arm like my HDTV has? We want to be able to unplug it and move around the room, so I'll need to upgrade the speakers to wireless. Any thoughts there? I'm not afraid of the command line — indeed, I insist on one — but no Gentoo-type projects, thank you. Just a good sleek and secure ROM for optimal tunage with all the top apps the kids are using today."
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Ask Slashdot: How to Pimp My Android Tablet?

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  • Don't forget .. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:46PM (#42990889)

    Don't forget to ask for a Pony as well!

    • by stephanruby (542433) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @06:44PM (#42991939)

      The Android-derived tablet he got is horrible! The battery is the least of its problems.

      As a rule of thumb, if someone offers you a tablet for Christmas with resistive touch, you shouldn't even open the box and you should try to return it for a full/partial refund as soon as possible. As to the security issues, the article he pointed to talks about apps being "security risks" or "malware" for requesting GPS permissions when they shouldn't (which is really FUD). In any case, since his tablet doesn't have a GPS chip in it, that issue doesn't apply to him.

      Also since he doesn't have access to the official Android Market/Google Play, he should just look on the XDA forums, root his device, install Cyanogen on it, and go through the Cyanogen repo for apps. And he should refrain from installing apps from other locations.

      His tablet will still be horrible after that, but it should be more bearable. And frankly, I don't think he should be spending any more money on this tablet to try to customize it, spending money on it will just be throwing good money after bad. Even if he resolves the battery issue and the app store issue, and makes a kick ass stereo out of it, the tablet will still need to be rebooted every hour or so.

      Next time, he or the person who gave him this tablet should just spend twice the money initially, and just buy an Asus Nexus 7. That one is really good. And he won't even need to root it to do all the things he wants to do with it.

      • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @07:35PM (#42992239)

        The Android-derived tablet he got is horrible! The battery is the least of its problems.

        I think it's pretty obvious that timothy got trolled. The "top-notch security and monitoring" line should have been a giveaway.

      • by sdsucks (1161899)

        As to the security issues, the article he pointed to talks about apps being "security risks" or "malware" for requesting GPS permissions when they shouldn't (which is really FUD).

        The article mentions a lot more than that - and the issues mentioned are real and potentially (depending one use scenario) very significant.

        But beside that point - how is an app requesting location data when it doesn't need it NOT a significant problem? Do you review the code for all apps that request this permission or do you blindly trust them with your location data? Perhaps you just don't care if your device sends your location to others without you wanting it to? Imagine you were in charge of IS at

        • The article mentions a lot more than that - and the issues mentioned are real and potentially (depending one use scenario) very significant.

          That's why you also depend on the ratings of an app before you install it. Not everyone checks permissions, but most people check the ratings.

          But beside that point - how is an app requesting location data when it doesn't need it NOT a significant problem? Do you review the code for all apps that request this permission or do you blindly trust them with your location data?

          This issue is present with all the app stores, including the iPhone app store.

          Some apps, I do trust with my location data. It's the same with people. Some people, I do trust with my home address: My mailman, the UPS guy, the pizza guy, etc.

          • by sdsucks (1161899)

            Relying on ratings for security? It's a start I guess...

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          These free apps are tracking supported. They spy on you to generate revenue. Their TOS should state how they sell that data. If they don't you are free not to install or use them.

          This is the price of freedom. You are free to do stupid things. You are responsible for making the decision, or helping your kids make decisions. If it is that much of a problem you can ask your government to help.

          The alternative is a walled garden like iOS. Some people like that, some people don't. Freedom isn't free, as they say.

      • by julesh (229690)

        The Android-derived tablet he got is horrible! The battery is the least of its problems.

        As a rule of thumb, if someone offers you a tablet for Christmas with resistive touch, you shouldn't even open the box and you should try to return it for a full/partial refund as soon as possible. As to the security issues, the article he pointed to talks about apps being "security risks" or "malware" for requesting GPS permissions when they shouldn't (which is really FUD). In any case, since his tablet doesn't have a GPS chip in it, that issue doesn't apply to him.

        Also since he doesn't have access to the official Android Market/Google Play, he should just look on the XDA forums, root his device, install Cyanogen on it, and go through the Cyanogen repo for apps. And he should refrain from installing apps from other locations

        You're making an awful lot of assumptions about his tablet when he's told us nothing useful about it other than the price. FWIW, I suspect you're wrong on 2 of the 3 conclusions you draw here: it's perfectly possible to get an $89 tablet that has capacitative touch and Google Play these days, but GPS will likely be out of the question.

        But your suggested solution highlights the real problem with buying cheap-ass chinese hardware: there will likely not be an open source build available for it. There's a sma

      • by skine (1524819)

        They don't even need to spend double.

        About $120-150 gets an HP Touchpad that (from what I can tell) has only been used as something to install Android on through Cyanogenmod.

  • Please don't... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr@@@hotmail...com> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:50PM (#42990925) Homepage
    Using your cheap DAC in that tablet to play music is practically a crime, or should be. It's going to sound terrible. There are some decent DACs out there for $99 that can run via Android with some customization. I realize this is more than the cost of your tablet... but seriously man, the sound is world's better.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh, go buy more monster cables.

      • by turkeyfeathers (843622) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:19PM (#42991107)
        I don't understand posters like you. Have you even tried Monster cables? I was skeptical about them at first, like you but when I hooked up a pair (making sure they were oriented in the right direction) I was blown away by how much better my collection of 128k MP3s sounded.
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:34PM (#42991469) Homepage Journal

          (making sure they were oriented in the right direction)

          That's right. I too thought Monster Cables were bogus until I arranged them along the earth's ley lines. Now, they totally rock!

          The only problem is, the Monster cables and the ley lines have a multiplying effect on the amount of EMF radiation that they emit, which causes genetic mutations, so now I'm growing this silver-covered, foil-like substance around the crown of my head!

          But I get kick-ass bass out of my mp3 files.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by blind biker (1066130)

      This is BS: the great majority of people don't hear any difference between the sound created by a "cheap" DAC or an expensive one.

      Besides, the person who posted this Ask Slashdot has probably used headphones with his tablet and is satisfied with the sound quality, otherwise he/she wouldn't have asked this question in the first place.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      He wants a wireless connection to the speakers anyway. What that suggests to me is that he wants to connect a bluetooth receiver to his hi-fi and assuming the cheap tablet actually has bluetooth built-in then the sound will stay digital until it hits the bluetooth receiver and thus the cheap DAC in the tablet won't be an issue. You would then have the issue of diminished audio quality due to the audio compression used by bluetooth, but that is another issue and personally I use bluetooth headphones all the

      • Exactly.

        I have one of these £24 / $36 Logitech Bluetooth audio receivers [amazon.co.uk] connected to my hi-fi and then send audio to it from my tablet, phone or PC. The weak point of the audio feed is then either the DAC in the Logitech device (seems good to me), the analogue RCA cables (again, fine by me), or the Bluetooth A2DP profile. I'm not sure about the specifics any more, but the Bluetooth A2DP profile is more than adequate for my MP3 collection.

        Oh, and I use Google Play to host my ~100GB MP3 collection so i

        • by Larryish (1215510)

          I got a Cobalt Tab s700 for Xmas, and use it at work quite a bit.

          Found a pair of USB-powered external speakers on sale at Wallyworld; they plug into the tablet's USB port and 3.5mm jack.

          Good sound, very loud, and can run for about 2 hours before needing to recharge.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      If your hifi has a digital input of some kind you can get a cheap USB soundcard with optical or SP/DIF output for under a tenner on Amazon. Might need to install Cyanogen to make it work, but on most ICS4 devices with USB host support I have tested it just works.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:51PM (#42990929)

    It has 200M of RAM available to the system.

    Expect that most of it's capability is going to be used in running the display. Here are the stats in case someone else needs to understand how limited it is:

    http://www.osnews.com/story/24619/Review_MID_M80003W_Tablet_with_Android_2_2/ [osnews.com]

  • recycling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SethJohnson (112166) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:00PM (#42990979) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like a trip to the electronics recycler. For all the time you're going to invest into getting some very limited use out of that device, you could just get a decent $300 tablet that will be suited for many uses. Since you're a dad, you know that your time is valuable. More valuable than making this thing marginally more useful so you can save $212.

    Put some edutainment apps on their and hand it over to your kids. No need to ruggedize it.
    • by sesshomaru (173381) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:23PM (#42991131) Journal

      Dr. Evil: No, we'll leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, and we'll just assume it all went to plan.

      Scott: I have a gun in my room. Give me five seconds, I'll come back and blow their brains out.

      Dr. Evil: No Scott.

      Dr. Evil: ....you just don't get it, do you?

    • Re:recycling (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MangoCats (2757129) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @10:35PM (#42993123)

      Normally, I would agree with the one good device trumps four pieces of junk approach, but in the case of 7" tablets, there's a great deal of power in junk. There are a lot of dedicated use scenarios (such as OP's music station) where a junker tablet will do that job quite well, and with the cash you saved from buying a "great" tablet, you can get a Kindle Fire HD for handheld media consumption - still not the ultimate tablet, but great at what it does, and I thought it was a pretty good buy at $249...

      • by Nexzus (673421)
        Agreed. I bought a cheap Aliexpress 7" tablet and night vision IP camera to use as a baby monitor. Total cost was just north of $100, and it has better quality (video) and can do more (pan/tilt and internet streaming) than the dedicated sets costing thrice the money.
  • by mveloso (325617) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:04PM (#42991007)

    Try and pass your device on as a broken iPad mini and sell it on craigslist or ebay. That's pretty much the only way to turn that thing into something useful.

    You could maybe use it as a picture frame too.

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:25PM (#42991139)

    Hard to answer with so few details.

    If it's that tablet (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA1M80H28093), the good news is that it has HDMI out, so if your stereo also has HDMI, you can get good sound by wiring the tablet to the stereo. Wireless sound broadly sucks (it goes through bluetooth, which compresses sound a lot); I'd just forget about it. I'm assuming your music collection is accessible via a network share or DLNA. That tablet can access both (ES File explorer and BubbleUPnP respectively). I am not aware of any program to automaticalle DL videos for your music; you're better off doing that from your PC, mot probably.

    Thinking of an Android tablet as a Linux PC isn't very useful: Android is a very customized version of Linux, so regular Linux software won't work. And installing a new distro, or even another, tweaked, version of Android requires a skilled hacker to build it specifically for your exact device, which probably won't happen in this case. You're better off combing through the Google PlayStore for apps that suit your needs. You'll find "kid's safety" apps, antiviruses... If you don't enable 3rd-party apps install (thus only get stuff from the playstore), risks of hacking are fairly low. Moreso with an antivirus, especially since most hackers just want to dial for-pay phone numbers, which your tablet can't do anyway. I wouldn't be too worried about viruses, I'd even skip the antivirus in your case because your tablet is not very powerful.

  • Where I can find a blacklist with those questionable apps?

  • of getting something like this as a second tablet, to do stuff like play videos when I'm using my other tablet. The videos I'm talking about are not movies or such, just talks of one form or another, while making notes on my main tab. It bothers me to hear the battery is dying because to me that would be a real killer. Is it possible to open it up replace the battery and use it as a second tab?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. Murdered out tint over the display
    2. Gold spinners
    3. Huge wing bolted to the case
    4. Light kit
    5. Neon running lights
    6. Low-pass filter on the audio for thump

    I'm sure there's more but that should get you started.

    • by dr_dank (472072)

      Yo dawg, I heard you like tablets, so I put a tablet in your tablet so you can tablet while you tablet.

  • Cannot think of any other options, sorry. If you want a rocking sound system, get a cheap PC and install XBMC. Cannot understand why you think a tablet would be good as your main media sever / player.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You can't polish this turd, don't even try. Just throw it away & start over.

  • A cheap Android tablet is meant to get you into Android and want to spend more for the next one, not to be useful. You are learning this now.

    Android is a "personal tracking OS" - so forget about security. If you ever hook up a gmail account to the device, you are being tracked. If you don't, get used to the cheesy apps pre-installed. Every app that you install has an ulterior motive - that is to get personal data and report back to the vendor. That is how they make money.

    If you want logging, do it on your

    • > A cheap Android tablet is meant to get you into Android and want to spend more for the next one, not to be useful.

      Lesson learned. To the Apple Store!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Get a Raspberry Pi, run mpd on it, use the tablet as a mounted remote control. I've looked at getting cheap tablets and flush mounting them in walls next to light switches using a build to measure frame to hid the wires but i still use a pi or itx format computer to actually run my stereo, tvs, home automation, etc.

  • by hb253 (764272) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:50PM (#42991283)

    Pimp is such an idiotic term to use, I'm sick and tired of it.

    But if you insist, I suggest a fur fedora, gaudy mink coat, glass platform shoes, and you must mount the tablet in a late 70's Cadillac with pink padded vinyl roof, V-shaped TV antenna on the trunk, bordello red upholstery, and fringe hung around the windshield.

    Plus, you can only use it to listen to the Shaft soundtrack.

  • Perhaps some puff paint? Maybe some stickers?

  • by loufoque (1400831) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:55PM (#42991305)

    You want to make this into a music listening device. What do you want to protect kids from? The evils of R'n'B?

    • by cffrost (885375)

      You want to make this into a music listening device. What do you want to protect kids from? The evils of R'n'B?

      Maybe he lives in suburban development? In any cultural vacuum, "keeping the kids safe" isn't merely a way for uninspiring parents to interact with their poor offspring — it can be practiced as a completely enveloping way of life. :o)

    • You want to make this into a music listening device. What do you want to protect kids from? The evils of R'n'B?

      Well, don't you know about R Kelly?

  • by Zinho (17895) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:11PM (#42991383) Journal

    If the biggest problem you have with it is the battery life, then fix the problem - just replace the battery [aliexpress.com]!

    Since you're posting to Slashdot I'm going to assume you are willing to do some soldering if you have to.

    Invest $15-25 and you can get 2x or 4x the battery life; that tablet only came with 2500 mAh if the other posters here guessed your model correctly.

    Make sure the new cell will fit, then have at it!

  • by interval1066 (668936) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:44PM (#42991531) Homepage Journal
    You cover it w/a shitload of mylittlepony stickers and your pimped. What else do you need, really?
    • And don't forget to bedazzle the shiznit out dat mahfucka, gnome sayin bro? Can't pimp w/o bling yo.
  • Put a good sound card in a basic small form factor PC, and run Amarok on it (or some other Music Front end) and figure out how to make it web friendly... That way, you can screw the MID to the coffee table hardwire it in to 120VAC and make that your effective music console. Am assuming the MID can DHCP into your home network? Not really a tablet, but it becomes a quasi-dedicated device as you seek.
  • by cjb-nc (887319) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @06:30PM (#42991845)
    That's what I did with my MID tablet. I wanted a clock that could display NTP-synchronized time. I had an old MID lying around doing nothing. Rooted it. Added NTP software to run over the wifi. Setup the desktop with a big clock app and a smaller 3-day weather app. Stuck velcro to the back and hung it on my cube wall at work, just over my monitors. Just leave it plugged in all the time, as my MID also has under-1hr battery life. Works great.
    • Naw, it isn't even a good clock. The one I bought at Walmart for $4 keeps time, doesn't crash, and works for months on one AA battery.
  • Some damning with faint praise going on there, the only link in the whole thing is to a piece on security FUD
  • Needs to constantly be plugged in, runs viruses, only runs phone apps, has taken up a bunch of your time, and cost 30% of the very best tablet in the world, which gives you 10 hours per day for 2 years of AC-free, weight-free, desk-free computing. How in the fuck is that “a decent tablet?”

  • http://mamajiwatulip.blogspot.com/2010/10/tulip-bling-bling-stickers.html [blogspot.com]

    Put a couple of those on and you'll be "Pimp"(tm) in no time.

  • by Sir Holo (531007)
    I'm not even remotely clear on what you are asking for.

    Is this some device that you find gives you underwhelming performance, yet you want to configure it to be a mounted, in-home, ultra-secure but child-monitoring, tiny-screened media player?

    If that's the case, then you should not waste your valuable time. Just buy a used laptop off of ebay and set it up as a media center. Then you're done!
  • I bought myself a cheap 10,000mah portable battery which is flat and basicly the size of a very thin ereader for charging my phone if the powers down but the shape and size got me thinking I know my Sony T1 reader has what's a tiny 1000mah battery and yet lasts a month or so, so what if I could alter the case and put this 10,000 mah into it. I'm thinking it would last at least a year between charges, it also has me wondering why no manufacturer has put a really big battery in one, maybe there is a flaw in
  • by p0p0 (1841106)
    Install "dsploit" and mess around with your friends and family. It allows for changing all the image in someones browser with a specified image, and you can do the same with text. Made my friend think she was being haunted by changing her name on Facebook to "you're next" and all her images to scary faces that say things a virus wouldn't know.

    And she had no idea because I was on my tablet.
    There is also password sniffing and such but I'm not interested in that.
  • Take a snapshot of the wall and put your tablet n front of it to make it appear like it's 'see-through'. And that about sums up the usefulness of said device. As an example, refer to http://www.flickr.com/photos/lewiscraik/2463912247/ [flickr.com]

  • I suggest you give the Android tablet away and get yourself an iPad. Why? A $89 Android tablet is low-end, and unless you bought it knowing its limitations, it is never going to satisfy you and you'll just keep whining about how lousy Android is. And given your silly dig at "Android security nightmare", it is pretty clear that you are prejudiced anyway. Really, just do yourself and the rest of us a favor and don't use Android.

  • Slap it around, take it's money and tell it to get back on the street, biatch!
  • What you have is a piece of junk. There's a reason that it sold for $89. If your time and effort are worth anything to you, the smartest thing you could do is throw this junk into the garbage and buy a decent piece of hardware, if you really have a need for a tablet. Junk like the hardware you have is going to do nothing but cause continuing frustrations.
  • Say "Look you fucking whore, your paycheck comes out of this cock. Suck this cock like your life depends on it. Suck it hard, suck it fast, and claim your reward, or I'm going to throw your bitch ass out on the street and your fucking babies will starve." That's how you pimp anything.

    I have it on good authority, since I have a buddy who is a retired pimp. I wonder how you get an Android tablet to suck your cock? If it won't, then how do you pimp it? I need to ask my buddy this question. I'm confused.

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