How to Make Use of Your Old Tablet
By David Weedmark
Updated August 14, 2017
Just because your old tablet is getting slow, or doesn't have the high resolution screen that the new models offer, that doesn't mean you need to toss it in the trash bin. There are plenty of things your tablet can still do for you to make life a bit easier while adding some convenience to your travels and home.
Digital Picture Frame
A decent digital picture frame can cost up to $100, with the sole purpose of showing off your family photos. Your old tablet can perform the same role for free. Get yourself an inexpensive stand at the local dollar store to prop up your tablet on a table, shelf. Type "digital photo frame" in your tablet's app store to find dozens of free apps, several of which give you editing tools for customizing each photo. Load up your best family photos, or your favorite museum artwork, and set your old tablet on a table or desk.
If you're in need of a nice clock in your study, your old tablet may be the perfect solution. There are dozens of clock apps to choose from that offer more attractive options than the default clock app on your Android tablet or iPad. The ClockZ app, for example, lets you customize the background for portrait or landscape mode. You can even adjust the brightness options so it's not glaring at you late at night.
Have you been putting off composing the great American novel, or just yearn for the old days of clattering typewriter keys when you compose a letter? Just download a free typewriter app like Hanx Writer – designed by writer, actor, director and typewriter aficionado Tom Hanks himself – and start typing away. With a Bluetooth keyboard and a stand, the app feels surprisingly like the real thing and includes an authentic chugging sound when you hit the carriage return key. While this app only works on iPads, there are plenty of free typewriter apps available on Google Play, none of which require ribbon replacements.
Traveling with a laptop can be problematic these days, especially if you are going abroad. Not only do you have to worry about losing your computer or having it stolen, there is nothing to stop border guards from turning it on and going through your stuff. Not only is an old tablet extremely portable, you can use it to get some work done wherever you have internet access. If you have Skype, you may even want to leave your smartphone at home too. Delete anything that's too personal, like Facebook, or the photos you took during your last vacation, load only the essentials, and travel with less concern about protecting your stuff.
Butter-fingers, flour and steam are not the best ingredients to combine with a brand new tablet. But if you're looking for a place for your old tablet, the kitchen might be ideal. Delete all of your old apps to make room in its storage and then download a recipe app or two. Many recipe apps give you the option to download favorite recipes, and even edit them to your taste, so you don't even need Wi-Fi to use them.
Portable Photo Editor
If you have a good camera, or even if you like taking pictures with your phone, the small screens aren't ideal for touching up photos before sharing them with family and friends. Most good cameras have a companion app that you can put on your old tablet that connects the two devices. When you take a photo, send it to your tablet, touch it up as needed and then share away. If you find the screen on your Canon camera is too small, you can even install the company's EOS remote app that mirrors your camera's display as you're shooting.
Donate or Recycle
Even if you have no use for an old tablet, throwing it away should be the last thing you do. There are plenty of schools, probably within a few minutes of your home, that could use a working tablet for their students. If your tablet isn't working at all, you should consider having it recycled rather than throwing it away. Tablets are full of rare metals and toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Stores like Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot have recycling programs for any old electronics you may not need anymore. Bring your old tablet along the next time you go shopping and let them take care of it for you.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful technology businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and online publications on computers and other technology topics.