First of all, thanks to all of you who showed a keen interest in Frankensteining PC to Chromebook and Cloud Printing on Wired Printer. I received many emails and messages from parents who really appreciated how obsolete tech can be re-purposed for the new #learnfromhome pedagogy, while saving hundreds of dollars. It is ironic that I continue to write these blogs on re-purposing old crap because I’m a devout advocate of throwaway technology. However, a major component of the throwaway technology philosophy is to buy tech cheap and not pay premium. i.e. if you paid a thousand dollars for a piece of premium tech for your kid, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
My Son in kindergarten has been doing well in using the old $150 Chromebook which was handed down to him by big sister. Although this cheap Lenovo Chromebook has a 180-degree rotating camera, it was not the ideal device for him to record his homework and submit to his teacher on Google Classroom. Further, he had difficulty interacting with some of the storybooks and exercises using a keyboard/touchpad combo. So, obviously, I had to buy him a tablet…
Looking at the tablets in the market, iPad was out of the question – first as a matter of principle and second because they are too damn expensive to buy and maintain. Samsung is no different with their cheapest Galaxy tablets costing over $150. So I opted to buy an Amazon Kindle Fire 7 which cost only $67. Although, I shop on Amazon frequently and subscribe to Amazon music, I’m not on the Amazon ecosystem. i.e. the kindle fire was not particularly useful straight out of the box with its Silk browser and Amazon app store. I needed the Chrome browser and the Google Play store to make this cheap tablet work.
Considering hardware, the kindle is not bad with decent specs for a kindergartner. So, it was just a matter of upgrading the software to a usable level:
- I installed the Chrome browser. Make sure you use a stable version for this install. I used 7x.
- I installed Google Play. It is imperative that you install the same version of the software and in sequence.
Once the Chrome browser and Google Play were installed, the $67 tablet transformed into a versatile device which easily installed all the necessary software for school such as Google Classroom, YouTube and then some. It even works well with Netflix and some of the popular games such as Candy Crush which makes the device very appealing to my rambunctious five-year-old.
I’m sure it will not last until his sixth birthday given the hard use he puts it through. Then again, at $67 even buying 10 replacements is cheaper than him destroying a premium tablet during one of his kindergarten tantrums.
I bought my daughter a Kindle e-reader as well, how I set that up is a whole other story. Await!