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How to reuse your old tablet – here are 10+ ideas

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Make your old tablet do one thing, and it will do it right. A security camera feed monitor, an offline movie player, a night clock, a kitchen radio – these are just a few ideas.

What do you usually do with your old tablet when a new shiny one arrives? Do you pass it to your children? It’s the worst idea you could have.

A few years old tablet is not as fast as at the beginning. And your kids will most likely want to play games. Games are the most performance-draining apps you could have. What’s more, your children would want the most recent games, not the ones that were hot five years ago.

Leaving an old tablet as it is, and expecting it to do the same job as your new device, is not a good idea, either.

Instead of trying to make a replica of the new device, give your old tablet a single and simple task. And you can expect wonders.

Below, you will see quick ideas to reuse your old tablet, complete with short tips how to do it:

1. Turn it into a bedside clock
2. Make it a drone display
3. Use it as an emergency microSD card reader
4. Turn it into an audiobook player
5. Use it as a digital photo frame
6. Make it a home security monitor
7. Use it as a kitchen radio or TV
8. Make it your smart home hub
9. Use it as an offline movie player
10. Use it as a book and magazine reader
11. Make it a device for extreme use

You can apply the following tips regardless of the task you choose:

▸ Remove all applications and files that you won’t need for the chosen task. Spring-cleaning the tablet should increase its performance, and you’ll have more space to upload new files. Alternatively, you can reset your tablet to factory settings and reupload only the app that you’ll use.

▸ You’ll be using your tablet at home, so you don’t have to protect it the usual way. Disable the lock screen password in the settings to reduce one or two steps in accessing the tablet’s new functions.

▸ You can also enable the voice assistant (such as Siri on your iPad or Alexa on Amazon Fire). This way, you will be able to manage the tablet with just your voice, without the need to tap the display every single time.

▸ Pick up a place for your tablet, preferably near a power socket. Your tablet’s battery is probably in a bad condition. You’ll have to keep it charged all the time. To save energy, you can get a smart plug and set a schedule to turn it on for a few hours a day, letting your tablet’s battery recharge to 100%.

▸ Make sure to position the tablet at the angle between 60 and 75 degrees. It works in most situations. If you still keep the old stand case, it will do the job. If you don’t have the case, you can lean the tablet against a wall, stack of books, or a small accessory box. You can also use a decent tablet stand that will also fit your other mobile devices.

Ways to reuse your old tablet + tips how to do it

1. Turn it into a bedside clock

How to use old tablet as a night clock
Use your old tablet as a bedroom clock / Photo: Piotr Kowalczyk

Sometimes, you want to check the time during the night, but being still asleep you don’t remember where your smartphone is. You usually put it on a bedside table, but it’s not there, not this time. Oh, yes, you left it in a living room, in a charging station.

It’s when an old tablet comes handy. You can place it on a bedside table (if possible, make it always plugged in), and it will become a perfect night clock. It will not only display the time and weather. You could also use it as an alarm clock or morning radio.

Here is what you can do:

▸ Remove the lock screen password. This way, you will be able to wake up the tablet just by touching its screen. And the first thing you see on a home screen of any tablet with any operating system is the clock. The screen is large, the tablet is always in the same place. You will find it even when sleeping. You can’t say that about your smartphone.

▸ Play with the settings to display the clock in the size, position, and style that meet your needs. You can also add the weather widget and other elements that you find useful for a wake up briefing.

▸ To make things even easier, you can enable the voice assistant on the tablet, such as Siri on an iPad or Alexa on an Amazon Fire. Just say “Alexa” (Amazon Fire) or “Hey, Siri” (iPad), and the tablet will wake up, displaying a large clock.

▸ Amazon Fire tablets come with a handy feature called “Show Mode.” When you also turn on the ‘Do Not Disturb” mode, the display will be dimmed in order to reduce the amount of emitted light. Note: I don’t recommend using this feature every day, as it’s taking too much energy.

▸ You can also get a night clock app from the app store, if you want to further customize the clock display and experience.

2. Make it a drone display

Most controllers of commercially available camera drones come with a smartphone holder.

The only problem with the smartphone as a drone monitor is that its display is too small to see the details of the terrain, especially during a sunny day.

Think about your old tablet you don’t know what to do with. Wouldn’t it be a simple and no-cost solution?

Here is what you can do:

▸ Check out the documentation of your drone to find out whether your old tablet model is still compatible (regarding relevant apps and system performance).

▸ You obviously can’t hold in your hands both the controller and a tablet. However, you can place the tablet on a flat surface (such as a garden table, large rock, or tree trunk). Or, you can buy a wearable tablet desk with straps that you can put on your shoulders.

▸ As your tablet’s battery is probably in a bad condition, make sure to take with you a decent power bank. You may need it after one or two hours of operating your drone+tablet set.

3. Use it as an emergency microSD card reader

Some tablets, for instance, Amazon Fire, come with a microSD card slot.

If you’ve used microSD cards, you know how helpful they could be. The cards can be used as a way to extend the tablet’s memory space, and to transfer data between devices, or to carry content without the need to carry a tablet.

If you still have important data on your microSD card(s), don’t get rid of your old tablet. You may need to access that data. Without the tablet, you’ll have to buy a microSD card USB adapter.

Things to do:

▸ To make your old tablet ready for unexpected use, keep it in a dry and warm place, and recharge its battery to the fullest every few months. This minimal level of maintenance will let you avoid problems with reviving the dead battery.

▸ To transfer files to your destination device (probably a laptop), download to your old tablet a cloud storage app, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Every time you add the files from your microSD card to your cloud app (you can also enable automatic back up), they will instantly become available on all devices connected with the same cloud storage account.

4. Turn it into an audiobook player

How to use old tablet as an audiobook player
Your old tablet can be a perfect audiobook player / Photo: Piotr Kowalczyk

Do you like to listen to audiobooks? You are most probably using an audiobook player app on your smartphone.

I know this pain: every time someone calls or a notification comes, the playback is interrupted. The audiobook app may stall or even crash. As a result, it’s difficult to come back to a calming world created by an audiobook narrator.

Why not make audiobook listening independent from your busy smartphone?

Many people listen to audiobooks at a fixed place at home. That’s why the idea of using a tablet as an audiobook player makes a lot of sense. Where are you usually listening to audiobooks? Is it a bedroom, a living room, or a reading nook you have just created in the renovated attic?

All you have to do is:

▸ Pick up the most suitable audiobook app. Here are the best audiobook apps for iPhone/iPad and Android. Please keep in mind that choosing an app is in fact choosing an audiobook platform you will get the audiobooks from.

▸ Find the right place for your new audiobook station. It could be placed at the height of your head, where the sound is evenly distributed across the entire room.

▸ Make sure to keep the tablet plugged to a charger during audiobook playback sessions. The old tablet’s battery may need to be recharged every few hours. It’s less than the length of an average audiobook (ten hours).

▸ Enable voice assistant on your tablet (such as Siri on an iPad or Alexa on an Amazon Fire). This way, you will be able to control the tablet with your voice – no need to approach the tablet to turn the audiobook off or change the playback speed! 

5. Use it as a digital photo frame

How to use old tablet as a digital photo frame
You don’t have to buy a dedicated digital photo frame – use your old tablet instead / Photo: Piotr Kowalczyk

Are you planning to host a birthday party or a family gathering? Do you want a photo slideshow to be a part of the setting?

There is no need to buy a dedicated photo frame. Especially that many digital picture frames cost between $100 and $200. It’s much more than a decent tablet. The entry level Amazon Fire costs less than $50. 

What’s more, a digital frame is just one more device that you have to get acquainted with, set up, and sync with the source of photos.

In fact, the main benefit of a digital photo frame is the frame itself. It looks like a classic analog picture frame, often with ornaments, and always with a kickstand.

Your tablet, be it old or new, is a perfect digital photo frame if you only don’t care much about the wooden engraved frame around the display.

All you have to do is:

▸ Find a good place for a photo presentation and put your tablet there. It could be on a table near the entrance or at the fireplace in your living room.

▸ Choose a photo or create a photo collection that you’d like to display.

▸ Master the way to run this collection in a presentation mode, so that the display won’t get into a sleep mode every few minutes. Depending on the system your tablet has, you can get one of the apps from your app store. Here is an example of a digital picture frame app for Android and iPad/iPhone.

6. Make it a home security monitor

How to use old tablet as a home security monitor
Turn your old tablet into a home security monitor that can be accessed by all members of your family / Photo: Piotr Kowalczyk

Are you going to invest in an indoor security camera system? You can obviously monitor your home using your smartphone or primary tablet.

The only problem is that you add one more task to already task-heavy devices. It may turn out it’s one task too many.

Your old tablet focused on one task – security camera management – could behave the same way as a control room monitor.

Here are a few tips to make it work:

▸ Download the security camera app to your tablet and connect it with the system. Remove all unused apps and clear the space from all old files.

▸ Place the tablet in an easily accessible spot, with a good Wi-Fi signal, and nearby an electrical outlet. Keep the tablet plugged at all times.

▸ Make sure to enable notifications from the security camera app. Also, increase the volume of alert and notification sounds.

▸ Leave the security camera app opened all the time. Thanks to that, you will access it right after waking up your tablet. To make it one-step shorter, you can disable the lock screen password in your tablet’s settings.

7. Use it as a kitchen radio or TV

How to use old tablet as a kitchen radio
Kitchen is the best place for your old tablet. You can use it as a radio, TV, or cookbook / Photo: Piotr Kowalczyk

Your kitchen could be a perfect second-chance place for your old tablet. You can use this device as a classic radio, a TV set with your favorite news channel playing all day long, a weather station, an audiobook player, or a cookbook with an endless number of recipes.

You can obviously use the tablet for multiple purposes. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend giving it a single task that would require a quick and simplified management. Too many apps will slow an old tablet down. Moreover, your primary tablet handles multiple tasks already. 

There is no need to turn your old tablet into a replica of your primary one. It may turn out you stop using both. 

Give your old device a single and very specific task, and it will perform it perfectly. Let’s see what to do to turn your tablet into a radio station.

All you have to do is:

▸ Find the spot for your tablet. No matter whether it will be a wall or a kitchen worktop, make sure it’s close to a power socket. This way you will be able to plug in the tablet any time, without the need to take it somewhere else. As little management as possible, remember?

▸ Alternatively, you can invest in a smart plug. Smart plugs are a way to automate charging time, and therefore save energy. You can keep the tablet always plugged in, and set a custom schedule, for instance, to turn on the charging for five hours in the morning. This way, the tablet won’t die in the middle of listening to your favorite morning news program.

▸ If you decide to put your tablet on a table or worktop, you can use a stand to set the right angle and raise it closer to eye level. Here is our list of the best tablet stands on Amazon. If you don’t want to spend extra money, you can use an old cookbook stand you may already have at home.

▸ I strongly recommend placing a tablet on a wall. The biggest benefit is that the tablet is at eye level, so that you could manage it while standing. Plus, it will be away from what can cause damage, for instance, fat spitting from the pan.

▸ If you still have the tablet case that supports auto sleep and wake feature, you don’t have to invest in a dedicated tablet wall mount. Such a case has built-in magnets. The magnets are usually strong enough to firmly attach the tablet to a metal surface. You can put your tablet on the side of the fridge, or get a cozy magnetic board that you could also use for memos, shopping lists, and other purposes.

▸ Remove from your tablet all apps and files you won’t use. This way, you will increase its performance.

▸ Remove the lock screen password. You don’t need it, as it’s in a safe place. The benefit of a password-free tablet is that you will be able to access it immediately.

▸ Find the radio app. The most versatile is TuneIn. When you register your account, you will be able to save your favorite stations. Here is a TuneIn app for Android and iPad/iPhone

▸ Leave the radio app open. This way, you can start playing your favorite station right after waking up the tablet.

▸ Additionally, you can enable a voice assistant on your tablet, such as Alexa on an Amazon Fire or Siri on an iPad. It will let you turn off the radio on and off without the need to approach the tablet. Please note that turning off the radio using a voice assistant may be difficult when someone is speaking on a radio station.

8. Make it your smart home hub

How many smart home accessories do you have at home? Smart plugs, thermostats, speakers, bulbs, kettles, or microwaves – you can comfortably manage them with just one app on your smartphone.

The first thing to decide is to pick up the most suitable smart home management system. The three most popular ones are Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit. Next, download to your smartphone the relevant app and connect all available home appliances.

The only problem with a smartphone app is that only you will be able to control the appliances unless other members of your family download the same app and login with your credentials.

And here comes an idea to reuse your old tablet. Why not make it a smart home hub? Just place it in the central place at your home (such as the kitchen or the hall), and all family members will be able to easily access and manage it.

Here are a few tips:

▸ It’s best to put the tablet on a wall, at eye level. This way, you will be able to manage it while standing. Instead of buying a dedicated tablet wall mount, you can use a magnetic board, which will work perfectly with your tablet’s case cover. Any tablet case that supports auto sleep/wake has built-in magnets. These magnets will let you attack the tablet to any magnetic surface.

▸ Remove all apps and files that you won’t need. Thanks to that, you reduce the chances that your tablet will stall or freeze. There will be only one app and one set of tasks to perform.

▸ Disable lock screen password to reduce the number of steps. Download your smart home app, and leave it open all the time. This way, in just one or two steps you will access the smart home setting you want to change.

▸ Make sure to have the tablet plugged in to the power socket all the time. Thanks to that, you will no longer have to worry about the tablet dying exactly at the time you wanted to turn on the water kettle. To save energy, you can use one of the smart plugs, which, by the way, can also be controlled by the smart home app.

▸ When you enable a voice assistant, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, you and your family members will be able to control home appliances just with the voice.

▸ Don’t remove the smart home app from your smartphone. You will use it less often, but still need it to control home remotely, or access home appliances in emergency situations.

9. Use it as an offline movie player

If all you need for holidays is a collection of movies you want to watch even without access to the internet, your old tablet will do the job. There is no need to take your primary tablet.

First of all, video on demand services, such as Netflix, HBO Max, or Amazon Prime Video, let you download movies and TV series for offline use – but only on your tablet or smartphone. It’s not possible to do that on your laptop or desktop computer.

What’s more, some tablets, such as Amazon Fire, come with a microSD slot. As movie files are extremely large, a memory card is a way to carry several times more movies for offline watching.

All you have to do is:

▸ Remove all apps and files that you don’t use. The more space you have, the more movies you will be able to download. Please note that a Netflix movie downloaded for offline use takes roughly the same space as a movie file downloaded from a computer.

▸ Test offline video playing before leaving home. To do this, disconnect the tablet from a Wi-Fi network and play one or two videos.

▸ Make sure to take a multi-port charger or/and a power bank with you. The tablet’s battery drains extremely fast when playing a movie.

▸ To improve the comfort of watching movies on your tablet, you can get one of hands-free watching stands and accessories.

10. Use it as a book and magazine reader

How to use old tablet as an e-reader
No tablet is too old for reading ebooks. Just make the most of the book reading app you’ve used / Photo: Piotr Kowalczyk

When you buy a new tablet, you’ve got so many things and apps to check out. I bet reading ebooks won’t make it to the top 5 most common activities.

Then, after a year or two, you notice that your favorite game crashes every time you want to play, it takes ages for web pages to load, and then there is this unbearable time lag in dismissing notifications. Your tablet is getting old.

The thing is that no tablet is too old for reading ebooks. Book-reading apps are lightweight and simple. Your five years old tablet could become a decent ebook reader any time, and you could use it this way for another five years.

Compared to a standard e-reader, your tablet probably has a larger screen (8, 10-inch?), so you will be able to read not only novels, but also comics or newspapers. However, it’s good to keep in mind that compared to an e-reader, your tablet may cause eye strain if you read for several hours in one sitting.

All you have to do is:

▸ Pick up a book reading app that suits your needs the most. Please note that most apps are offered by ebook platforms, so if you choose the app, you also choose the source of ebooks. Here are the best book-reading apps for iPad/iPhone and Android.

▸ Make the most use of a dark theme. Most book-reading apps let you choose between a few reading themes. One of them displays white text on a black background. It’s a dark theme, and it’s a way to avoid eye strain when reading books in the evening.

▸ Many tablets come with a blue shade control. In the settings, you can find an option that will let you make the display warmer during the evening and night to make your mind ready for sleep. In your iPad, this function is called Night Shift. In your Amazon Fire, it’s called Blue Shade.

11. Make it a device for extreme use

Are you going to take your newly-bought tablet on your next business trip, holidays by the sea, or a weekend in a mountain cabin? Do you worry something bad will happen to your shiny new device? A high probability of theft, accidental drop, damage caused by water or beach sand?

There is no need to invest in a heavy-duty case, a waterproof sleeve, or a protection plan. You can take the old tablet instead of a new one – and have peace of mind even if you lose it.

Here are a few tips:

▸ If there is a higher-than-average probability of theft, make sure to remove all apps with your personal and sensitive information, such as email or shopping apps with connected payment methods. You have these apps on your smartphone, anyway. Alternatively, you can log out of these apps. You can also delete all your private photos, if you have them already stored in the cloud or moved to your new tablet.

▸ Enable a lock screen password, and make it strong this time. The four-digit “1212” is not strong. Four digits reflecting your birthday or a birthday of any of your family members (such as YYYY or MMYY) are not strong.

▸ If you are afraid of water damage, find at home a piece of a transparent foil, such as a clear sheet protector. It would work as a no-cost dry bag. Yes, it doesn’t look like a brand-new tablet accessory, but, hey, you are on an extreme trip, right?

▸ To give an extra protection against shock and bumps, you can use a bubble mailer envelope. These envelopes are especially helpful if you are worried about corner damage. Most of them are waterproof.

• • •

Even if you haven’t found a relevant task for your old tablet, think twice before getting rid of it. Keeping an old device is not only about nostalgia. You may need it one day. And the ideas listed above are just the beginning of possible ways to repurpose your old tablet.

To keep the tablet in a good condition, make sure to:

1. Store it at room temperature, in a dry place. The basement or laundry room may not be suitable, if you don’t use a sealed box.

3. Recharge the tablet every few months. Leave it plugged in to the electrical outlet overnight to let the battery recharge to the highest possible level.

This way, your tablet will be ready to use after a standard recharging any time you need it.

How to reuse an old tablet – my personal choice

I have an 8-inch Amazon Fire HD tablet (7th-generation), which I bought in August 2017. I had been using it for about two years, until it became too slow for video watching and web browsing.

I have been recharging it twice a year – enough to avoid problems with bringing the battery back to life.

Now I use my bright yellow Fire as a kitchen radio and weather station. Thanks to a slimlight case, I could attach the tablet to a magnetic board which hangs next to a power outlet.

Why radio? I was desperately looking for a way to disperse loud sounds coming from the construction site in front of my window. Previously, I had been using the radio on my laptop, but with every heavy processing of my graphic app, the radio transmission was being interrupted.

I usually manage my Fire with Alexa voice commands, especially if I want to turn on the radio or check the weather. If I want to focus on work (for instance to finish writing this blog post), I play one of the playlists on Amazon Music.

My wife occasionally uses the Fire as a cook book. When attached to the magnetic board, it’s exactly at eye level, and far from things that could damage it.

⇢ Recommended

Click or tap the button above to see our Amazon recommendation lists for all product categories mentioned in this guide.

• • •

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