The Ultimate $49 Android Tablet

The Amazon Fire HD8 tablet is a fine device-- especially when it goes on sale for $49 (which it frequently does). With a few simple tweaks, however, it can easily be elevated to become the device that you use 90+% of the time. Here's how I get the most from my $49 tablet:

  1. Enable Developer mode by going into Settings and tapping "Serial Number" until Developer Mode appears.

  2. Click into Developer mode and allow Mock Locations and scroll to the bottom and change Background Process Limit from "Standard Limit" to "At most 3 processes". If you subsequently install a Fake GPS app you'll be able to access geolocked video content and with a maximum of 3 background processes it's unlikely that you'll experience lag while using your tablet.

  3. Go to Settings>Security & Privacy and enable "Apps from Unknown Sources". While you're there, deselect "Collect App Usage Data".

  4. Install Google Play Services by following these instructions:

  1. Install your favorite apps from the Google Play store.

  2. Install "Launcher Hijacker" from here:

  1. Download and install the launcher of your choice. Lots of people like Nova but I'm perfectly happy with Google Now launcher. Use Launcher Hijacker to override Amazon's default launcher with the one you prefer.

8 ) My laptop of choice is a Chromebook and my entire life is organized into my Bookmarks Bar. As such, I like to install the Chrome Bookmarks widget on my home screen so that I have easy access to all my Chrome bookmarks.

  1. Place shortcuts to your most frequently used apps in folders on your home screen. I'm an efficiency-minded person and like to be able to do everything in no more than two clicks. (See screenshot, below.)

  2. You can purchase a case that includes a bluetooth keyboard, on eBay, for $11.99. I love mine. I normally leave the keyboard in a desk drawer but when I travel I put it back into the case and use my HD8 as a mini laptop. The case also allows me to use the tablet as a mini television and the 8" screen provides a nice user experience when I travel.

As you can see from the screenshot, below, I use my tablet for phone calls, remote access, social media, control of streaming devices, control of my smarthome devices, rewards apps, etc.

I have Chrome browser installed so that I can use my Chromebook bookmarks but I mostly use Opera Browser because it automatically uses word-wrap when zooming in on a website. I read a lot and like to be able to get the text to a comfortable size with just a quick pinch-zoom.

Hopefully a few of you will find this useful. Enjoy!

BTW-- you can also do all of this with the 7" Fire tablet but since it only has 8GB of storage you have to be pretty judicious about how many apps you install. It works well, but not nearly as well as the 8" Fire tablet does. I really only use the 7" tablet if my 8" tablet is recharging or if I'm going someplace where there's a chance of damage to my device (backpacking, boating, etc.).

A few more notes:

  1. The "off" button is something I use on all my devices that don't offer double-tap on/off. I like to use mechanical buttons as little as possible to extend the life of my devices.

  2. 3g Watchdog is an app I use to keep track of how much wifi data I use. If I'm tethered to a phone with limited data it provides a second check on how much data I've used. And if I'm using a FreedomPop MiFi it enables me to cut off my data consumption before getting into an overage situation.

  3. The OS Monitor app is to help me identify resource-greedy apps that need to be uninstalled.

  4. I also like to install Gboard and enable it as the default keyboard.

Is the 8 less laggy than the 7? I had a 7 and it was unbearable.

Nice guide though thanks. No cellnuvo??

Big difference between the two. The HD8 isn't the least bit frustrating to use, in my opinion.

I've thought about putting CN on this tablet but, as of now, only have it on our phones.

I'm a fan of the Fire HD8 too. We need tablets for a control app at work, and the tablet needs to be toted around, used frequently while standing & doing other tasks, and often outdoors, and sometimes left unattended. I wanted something more disposable than the iPad that a lot of the guys prefer. The guys that own iPads still prefer those, but the Fire does the job.

I bought 3, and different types of cases for each. This case style was the winner for our application, with a rotating hand strap and prop on the rear, and a (removable) shoulder strap,

The case is available under a range of brand names, with/without shoulder strap, and for Fire models from 2016-2018 release.

My biggest complaint about the Fire-- the high-contrast color inversion setting does not work well. This is not a feature that most are likely to need, but I've found the setting handy for viewing the screen in bright sunshine with some apps.

Thanks for the tips, Chelle. I see at least a couple I'll have to do.

I can see where that case would be very handy.

Here's the $11.99 case/keyboard that I use. The keyboard also works great with a Fire Stick:

Chelle, is the keyboard detachable? Decent for typing?

Yes. It's a standalone that fits in the case.

I'm a touch typist and it's a little cramped-- but I can still type without any trouble.

Very fascinating, Chelle, and very useful! Thank you for putting it together!
What you wrote about Opera browser's text wrap - is there a setting to get it to work in Opera Mini on a phone? I tried it on a Nougat phone but the text doesn't want to wrap for me. (Made sure that text wrap is on in Settings, tried Tablet mode as well as Phone mode). Thanks.

Something made me switch from Opera Mini to Opera Beta and I think that might have been it.

Try installing Opera Beta and see if that does it for you.

Yes, that works! Thanks Chelle!

I'm a touch typist, too, and manage it on a keyboard in a 7" tablet case, although it takes me a few minutes to quit hitting the wrong keys. Still faster for me than poking at the screen.

I think this is Chelle's case:

It seems to be a generic case available in multiple sizes in different listings.
I usually carry a folding bluetooth keyboard when I travel (without a laptop) that takes little space packed, but needs a stable flat surface. This case might be a good solution for me just for the keyboard.

Yes. That's the one. They use the same exact keyboard for 7" and 8" cases, so it's actually the size of a 7" Fire Tablet.

I have three Bluetooth keyboards and like them all for different reasons

I have a roll-up keyboard, the keyboard from that eBay listing, and a slightly larger keyboard made by 1byOne that has an integrated touch pad and near-full sized keys. I got it from Amazon for $15.

The 1byOne is great around the house but a little larger than I like to travel with. If I'm willing to take that one I'm usually willing to just grab my smallest laptop, instead.

The eBay keyboard is very compact yet still usable. It fills a gap in my various travel options.

I'm a touch typist as well. I don't like keyboards because I don't like spending on them. My solution - swiping keyboard apps. I've tried out several, and the best one has been GBoard.

I find the BT KB to go to sleep too quick, so always missing first few char when typing.