Tablet sales are currently declining, likely as large smartphones and convertible laptops are losing the usefulness of a tablet. But if you have one or more pills at home gathering dust as you gleefully poke around in your giant smartphone, there may be some good ways to use them instead of selling or recycling them. Here are some ideas.

Turn it into a streaming media machine

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Android and iOS apps for most music and video streaming services are available, even if they’re not made specifically for tablets. So why not complement your Hi-Fi stereo or Bluetooth speaker with a dedicated tablet controller? It’s much easier to operate than, say, a remote control, and in the kitchen, a tablet is easier to press than a smartphone. Pandora and Spotify are obvious examples, but in the living room, a shared tablet can be paired with a Chromecast or Roku for easier Netflix viewing or streaming. And speaking of living quarters…

Use it as a smart remote control

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The Logitech Harmony series of remotes is a favorite among videophiles with large AV collections. But the Harmony system can be used on Android and iOS devices, including tablets, and the touchscreen actually makes programming them a lot easier. Even if you don’t have a dedicated smart remote, many smart TVs and standalone systems like Android TV, Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV offer mobile remote apps, not to mention dedicated cable boxes and receivers. Despite the individual quality of the apps, this can be a much better way to navigate long lists or complex user interfaces.

Create a desktop widget screen

If you have a desktop workstation or even a laptop that you periodically plug into a monitor for more convenient work or play, a great idle tablet can be a great companion. Combined with a stand and charger, it can create a handy dedicated email screen (especially with email and home screen push widgets on Android), an RSS, Twitter or Facebook viewer, or even a second screen tool for gamers to check them out. . thermal statistics. There are even programs that allow you to display a screen full of custom commands and macro keys, which are then sent to your computer wirelessly.

Turn on a second desktop monitor

Want to live life on a dual-screen desktop without buying more hardware? There are several applications that will allow your computer to work with your tablet as an additional monitor, either wirelessly via Wi-Fi or via a direct USB connection (which also helps with charging). Note that, unlike most of the other uses on this list, iOS and iPad seem to be better supported for external displays, but it’s still possible on Android — just not as well.

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Use it as a guest or kids computer

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Setting up an entire computer so guests can use it when they visit you is no easy task, but don’t forget that a phone or tablet is essentially an all-in-one computer that doesn’t need to be tethered to a computer. regular monitor, keyboard and mouse. Using Guest Mode on Android or iOS, it’s easy to let anyone use your system and your network without having to create a new account for them or give them inconveniently private access to your own data. You can even add a stand and Bluetooth keyboard to make it easier for them. And, of course, tablets are already pretty popular as «starter computers» for kids who aren’t old enough for a full-fledged Windows machine or their own mobile phone.

Give it new life as a dedicated smart home controller

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If you’ve invested enough money into connecting your home to smart gadgets like the Nest thermostat, Wi-Fi lighting, automatic shutters, and even connected devices, you’re probably already using your phone to control some or all of them. Install all relevant apps on your tablet, paste them into a folder on your home screen, mount your tablet on a wall charger, and you have a dedicated hub to control everything in the house. Oh, and you might want to put a PIN on that thing too, especially if it’s within reach of kids.

Turn it into a dedicated security monitor or baby monitor

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Your tablet has a Wi-Fi chip, one or two cameras, and a microphone. This means that if you can find a suitable place to stick it permanently powered, it is already well equipped to be a remote control camera… which could be a handy way to create one if you want to save some dough on the original article. There are several iOS and Android apps specifically designed to turn an idle device into a standard Wi-Fi recording camera or baby monitor that can alert another mobile device with noise or motion notifications. This is a great way to remap your existing devices.

Convert it to a mini arcade

It’s pretty much iPad-only because Android tablets aren’t standardized enough to fit into semi-custom cases that look like someone threw a beam at that ancient arcade machine from your childhood. But the results are undeniably cool: these little stand-up cases include an old-fashioned button and joystick control (directly connected or wireless) and use the iPad’s shield as a replacement for arcade ELTOs. The App Store has a surprising amount of old and new games that are compatible with these gadgets, and iCade seems to be the top seller. Sure, you can do the same with a regular stand and Bluetooth controller, but where’s the fun in that?

DIY your car stereo screen

If you’re an avid techie who’s serious about the technology inside your car’s dashboard, and you’re itching to void most of your manufacturer’s warranty, you could try replacing your car stereo head unit with a tablet. This is a surprisingly popular car mod, especially for smaller tablets like the Nexus 7. Check out dozens of tutorials and breakdowns on YouTube if you’re interested…and remember that in most places it’s illegal to watch a video while driving a car. These mods are best suited for music control and performance statistics, and even then they are used sparingly while the vehicle is in motion.

Use it as a dedicated voice control center

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If you’re drooling over a voice-activated gadget like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, it may have crossed your mind that your mobile phone can already do pretty much the same thing. Same for your tablet — heck, Amazon even uses screens for these things now. Google and Apple tablets can be activated hands-free with the OK Google and Hey Siri commands, and are linked to most of the same services. That being said, a dedicated tablet won’t have good enough 360-degree speakers or advanced microphones in this article, but for the low price of free because you already have it, it’s not bad.

Note on battery life

For many of these applications, you may be wondering how to use your tablet unattended and keep the battery charged for more than a day or two. Keep in mind that many of these offers are intermittent rather than permanent — it’s not like you have to use the remote for hours at a time. In cases where using a dedicated docking station or charger is not practical, remember to use airplane mode on your tablet when you are not connected to the Internet. Combining low standby power, no wireless, and a battery two to four times the size of your mobile phone, most tablets will last a week or more on a charger.

Image Credit: Google Play Store, iOS App Store, Amazon, YouTube

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