I have been covering Android tablets on this blog since the very beginning. I wrote about the first pretty awful Pandigital tablets when they were still locked down as ereaders, and chronicled cheap Android tablets as new models gradually got better.
I reported on the launch of the first Kindle Fire, and Google’s response in 2012 (launching the Nexus tablet, and later allowing cheap Android tablets to ship with Google Play). As a result I have how-to guides for tablets that are no longer supported by their makers, and even for tablets made by companies that no longer exist.
People are still reading those old posts because they still have those older tablets. I even get emails from people with questions about those older tablets, which is why I was only slightly surprised to get two emails in two days about one of the original Pandigital Android tablets from 2010.
Both tablet owners asked me for the copy of the update file I used to have. It somehow got lost, so I can’t help them, but I thought that responding to their request on the blog might help other owners of old Android tablets.
Here’s one of the emails I got:
7.5 years ago my husband bought me the PanDigital e-reader black model R70E200. I tried to set it up but was having issues getting content from the Kobo bookstore so just left it for the summer as I had plenty of paperbacks to get through.
Aside from an attempt a few years ago the never-used reader has sat in a drawer ever since. I would really like to get this thing going. It seems Pan Digital is no longer around and I think I need to update everything on it. I came across your article from Dec. 11: New Update for Pandigital Novel (Black 7?) Adds Android Market and thought I might start with that but when I clicked on the Dat link it just took me to your About me page. I know this unit is old but I am sure it could be functional.
Some of the issues are: I get security certificate warnings constantly every time I try and open a webpage; I get an “Oops” message when I try to open the Kobo bookstore; when opening Fb (which I deleted when I reset to factory defaults) no content would load, just the top menu bar.
My recommendation is that you buy a new tablet.
I can appreciate the desire to get the most value out of old hardware; I am in fact typing this post on a six plus year old laptop.
But I would not recommend that anyone use a six-year-old Android tablet that they stuck in a drawer years ago. For starters, it’s running software that is so old that it may no longer be compatible with existing services.
The above quoted email explains a few of the possible problems, and other issues might include simple things like no longer being compatible with Wifi. Seriously, I have an original iPod Touch sitting in a drawer somewhere because it is not compatible with current Wifi security standards.
But even if all the software worked, you should still leave that tablet in the drawer (or better yet, chuck it in the trash).
Edit: A reader pointed out that rules on hazardous waste make it illegal to put an Android tablet in the trash. Instead, maybe you could give it away?
The thing is, you probably put it in the drawer because it was frustrating to use, or because of some similar problem. The tablet is still going to have the same usability issues that bugged you way back when, and you’re not going to be any happier with it now. This is why I think it is better to buy a new (or new-ish) tablet rather than reuse the old one. Not only will it perform better, it will have better battery life and other specs.
There are any number of tablets on Amazon in the $50 to $100 price range that offer acceptable performance for the price. My bet is that you will be happier with one of those new tablets than with an old one. They’re not great, no, but they are cheap, and they will be a better tablet than whatever you had six or eight years ago.