What to look for in a 2014 bargain Android tablet

I guess I owe an apology for not writing and posting this last week, when $40 tablets were all the rage as doorbusters. Cheap Android tablets are back again, and people are going to buy them–so it pays to buy one worth having, rather than one that’s going to drive you nuts.

Here’s what I look for, and you should too: Read more

The Asus Memo Pad HD 7 review: It’s a nice inexpensive tablet

I’ve been messing with an Asus Memopad, the 7-inch version. I think it’s a well-built, good-performing tablet for $149, and when you can get it on sale for less than that–and this is the time of year for that–I think it’s a great tablet for the money.

It’s not a high-end tablet. It has a 1280×800 screen, a quad-core 1.2 GHz Mediatek processor, a middling GPU, and 1 GB of RAM, and importantly, it includes a micro SD slot so you can add up to 32 GB of storage to it. The specs are all reasonable, but not mind-blowing. Most of the complaints I’ve seen about it are that it’s not a Nexus 7, but it’s 2/3 the price of a Nexus 7, too. When you compare it to other tablets in its price range, the worst you can say about it is that it holds its own. Read more

How to disable wallpaper when you’re not running Cyanogenmod

Unfortunately I can’t run Cyanogenmod on all of my Android devices (more on that tomorrow), but if you want to save some memory and CPU cycles and, depending on your device’s display, perhaps even increase your battery life by a few dozen minutes, there’s an option.

The Cyanogenmod No Wallpaper feature is available as a small app in the Play store. Simply download it, then tap and hold your home screen and you can select No Wallpaper.

Besides the benefit of decreased memory usage and increased battery life, I found the minimalist look quickly grew on me.

B&N just made its Nook tablets much more compelling

This past week, Barnes and Noble put the Google Play store on its Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets. So while they’re still running a forked Android, they’ll run most Android apps without you having to do anything special. That, plus the high-resolution screen, the low price, plus the ability to plug microSD cards into it, plus the ready availability at major retailers makes for a much more compelling tablet.

Sales have been abysmal lately, but I expect this to change that pretty quickly. Now the Nook tablets have three things the Kindle Fires lack: a better screen, greater openness, and expandability. Now they look like a very good general purpose tablet, to my eye.

Speed up Android with Seeder Entropy Generator

Seeder Entropy Generator, released on XDA Developers, became a sensation the last couple of days. There’s debate whether it works, and debate over why it works, but enough people reported an improvement that I gave it a whirl. The difference was noticeable. There is a downside–more on that in a bit.

I don’t know why it works either, but it made my pokey 800 MHz Nook Color running Cyanogenmod 7.2 more responsive. What I haven’t seen is a nice how-to on installing it. Read more

Mobile malware is coming. Get prepared.

One thing I’m seeing in the predictions-for-2013 columns is that mobile malware is going to increase this year. While I can’t be certain it’s going to happen, all of the ingredients are there. The only thing stopping it is motive.

I’m familiar with Avast antivirus on Android. It’s nice. Whenever I download an app from the Google Play store, it scans it, and if it finds something it doesn’t like, it intervenes. Read more

Hot-rod Cyanogenmod 7.2

Whatever you do, don’t call this post Optimizing Android 2.3 for Games, Graphics and Multimedia. I’ll kick your… nevermind.

But of course the first thing I wanted after I installed Cyanogenmod 7.2–which is based on Android 2.3.7–on my Nook Color was to make it run smoother and faster. What else would I want? So here’s some stuff I did, since adding three CPU cores obviously isn’t an option.

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