Getting Started with a Cheap Android Tablet
I originally wrote this post back when Android tablets shipped with almost no apps. The situation has improved somewhat so this post isn’t as useful as it used to be. As always, any suggestions on topics to include would be appreciated.
First things first. Go set the time and date. If they’re set wrong then this will cause a bunch of problems. For example, you won’t be able access your Gmail from the tablet. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but it’s true.
Next, calibrate the touchscreen. Hopefully your tablet will prompt you to calibrate the screen when you start it for the firs time. If it doesn’t you’ll need to do look under the settings for the calibration option. Check your manual; the option is in different places in different versions of Android.
Don’t forget to set up the Wifi. I bet that you’ve already done this, but I’m putting it on the list just in case.
There are 4 ways to install apps: downloading from a website, through an app store, email it to yourself, and install it from an SD card. The first 3 are relatively straight forward, but there’s a problem with the last one.
It isn’t as simple as you might think. Would you be surprised to find out that some
a lot of Android tablets don’t ship with a file manager? Well, then you’re going to be shocked to discover that some file managers can’t see the APK install files (I’m not kidding, either).
You’ll need to check under the apps menu and make sure that you have a file manager. Otherwise you won’t be able to install the apps downloaded to your SD card.
Here’s the file manager I like, and it works with most versions of Android:
You can install this file by emailing the link to your tablet so you can open your tablet’s web browser and visit that page.
Some developers host a copy of their app on their website, but not very many. (Adobe started doing it recently, though.) I always check a developer’s website, just in case.
If you’re one of the tablet owners who have access to the Android Market, I hate you (kidding). Chances are you might not have the official Marketplace, and you might not have any market app installed at all. Here are my 3 favorite places for finding apps:
- Amazon Appstore – Amazon launched this store last fall, and it’s beginning to gain wide acceptance.
- Slideme – This is a legitimate app store with both paid and free apps. It even has its own app for you to install on your tablet.
- 1Mobile – This is a not entirely legitimate source for apps, but it does not pirate paid apps (so far as I know).
I already pointed you at a file manager and I know that you’ll want other apps. Here’s a list of apps that you’ll probably want.
- web browser
- reading apps
- Adobe Reader (here are some other PDF readers)
- Spare Parts (You should get this one, and here’s why)
- ADW Launcher
- Advanced Task Killer