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How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

My son’s Asus Memopad 7 HD would not power up or charge, and my earlier non-invasive solution wouldn’t fix it. Here’s how I opened it up to disconnect and reconnect the battery.

Always try holding the power button and volume down button first because that’s easier (see the link above for details), but if that doesn’t work, proceed to open the case.

While you’re in there, you can also fix an issue that may be causing the power or volume buttons to be hard to press or malfunction entirely. Dropping the tablet a lot makes this happen. If you have young children, you probably understand.

Another malady these tablets can develop is a battery with a question mark when charging. This will sometimes fix that issue as well.

Read More »How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

The ultimate budget smartphone: The Moto E

I wanted to like the Moto E, for sentimental reasons. The Motorola who made this phone isn’t the same Motorola who made the MC68000 CPU in my Amiga, and it’s not the same Motorola that built the hulking briefcase-sized bag phone Dad toted around in the 1980s, but the logo is the same.

The stingy Scottish miser in me wanted to like the phone too, because it costs $129. A few short months ago, the only phones you could buy new for under $130 were cheaply made no-name phones like the Blu Advance with half a gig of RAM, a low-visibility screen, a low-end processor you didn’t want and an Android that was a few versions out of date, encased in lots of cheap plastic. Next to the Moto E, the Blu phones lose what little appeal they had.

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Fixing an Asus Memopad 7 that wouldn’t power on

One night my son ran down the battery on his Memopad 7 and put it away, but didn’t put it on the charger or tell me about it. The next time he went to use it, it was dead.

I tried several different tricks I found online, including plugging it in overnight to the AC adapter, plugging it in overnight to a computer’s USB port, and holding down the power button for a full minute or even a full five minutes. None of it worked–the unit just wouldn’t power on or show any signs of life whatsoever.

Finally I resigned myself to the possibility I would have to send it in for service. Read More »Fixing an Asus Memopad 7 that wouldn’t power on

The droid I’m looking for: The $129 Moto E

On Tuesday, Motorola announced the Moto E, a new low-end, $129 phone. Sporting a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, a single-core GPU, 1 GB of RAM, and a micro SD slot for expandability, it’s a modest phone for modest needs. It won’t be much good for gaming, but it’ll be a nice upgrade over my aging Samsung Galaxy S 4G, and I can take it to T-Mobile, where I have an unsubsidized, bring-your-own-phone plan. Not having a subsidized phone plan saves me about $100 per year, which pays for the phone. When the phone dies, I’ll buy whatever’s available at a comparable price then, which will be better than the most expensive phone on the market right now. There wasn’t anything out there like the Moto E in 2011 when I bought the SGS4G.

I’m probably the kind of person Motorola had in mind for this phone. I use my smartphone but I don’t live on it. I use it to check e-mail, occasionally look something up on the web, use it to download and listen to podcasts, and I have a few apps loaded on it to take advantage of having a dual-core computer in my pocket, but I don’t game or use social media on it. I also don’t use my phone as a status symbol. Give me two cores and a gig of RAM, and I can do everything I need or want to do.

I’ve been tempted by several of Blu’s supercheap phones, but their 512 MB of RAM was a dealbreaker. This costs $40 more than the Blu Advance I’d been eyeing, but to my mind it’s worth it. It ships with 1 GB of RAM, which is more usable, and Android 4.4, which is better suited to the Blu Advance’s skimpy memory than the OS Blu ships with it. Plus it’s guaranteed to get at least one update from Motorola. On top of that, Motorola ships its phones with a better screen and more durable build quality than Blu does. And, given Motorola’s storied past, the Motorola name is worth at least something to me.

I’m also sure the phone will sell well enough to get an aftermarket following, to extend its life even further by delivering future Android releases to it. The Moto G has good aftermarket ROM support, so I would expect the Moto E to follow.

The U.S. release date is June 3. I have better things to do than wait outside for a store to open to get one on that day, but I may very well get one sometime in June.

Android Kit Kat lands on the Nook Color

I didn’t know if it would ever happen, but experimental nightly builds for Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) have arrived for the venerable Nook Color. I installed it tonight.

Since I’ve previously run other versions of Cyanogenmod on the Nook Color, the upgrade was pretty straightforward. I had to reboot to recovery, update my recovery because my existing recovery was old and incompatible, reboot again (to recovery of course), which put me in Clockworkmod 6.0.4.5, and from there I installed the Cyanogenmod 11 zip followed by the Google Apps zip.

Newly flashed Android devices sometimes take some time to settle in before they’re really usable. On this 1 GHz, 512MB device, Kit Kat does seem faster than any of the Jelly Bean builds (Android 4.1-4.3) I’ve tried to run on it, but it’s not as quick as my Samsung Galaxy S 4G running Android 4.0.4. I’ll give it a little time.

A $99 tablet that doesn’t stank

‘Tis the season for cheapie tablets. They’re everywhere, and they cost $89, $79, even $59. About the only place I haven’t seen one is at a convenience store. But you don’t want them. They’re always underpowered and cheaply built, so they’ll be frustratingly slow to use and the hardware is likely to start failing after a year or so.

But this weekend I saw a budget tablet that hits all of the minimums, for $99, at an unlikely place: Aldi. Yes, the discount grocery store. It’s called the Medion Lifetab.Read More »A $99 tablet that doesn’t stank