In my last post I went through the steps to get CarPlay to work on an Android tablet. Today, I am happy to report that wireless charging seems to work well.
The key is using a tablet with wireless charging capability. The Kindle Fire HD 8 Plus can do this, and that’s what I’m using. I bought a cheap ($10) charging pad. It’s only 5W. I may upgrade later. If so, I want to get a thinner one. The mount, with the charger and the Kindle, is still holding solid, but a thinner charger may allow for a thin case.
Here are the pieces, minus the iPhone, mini audio cable and car USB charger.
Total cost was under $135. That’s way less than a CarPlay capable Head Unit with professional installation. And the dash of my Honda Fit didn’t have to be ripped out. I’m interested to see how it handles over time. I can see the mount needing adjustment at times. I need to manage the cables. But I like this set up quite a bit.
In my last post I talked about trying to make my 11 year old car stereo a little more modern, without tearing out the center section of the dash. I used an Amazon Echo Auto for a while.
Then I fell into an interesting idea of using an Android tablet to run Apple CarPlay.
Companies make these little boxes. They allow you to hook up your iPhone (wired or wirelessly, depending on what you want to spend) and the box works with an app on the tablet, and shows the CarPlay content. Near as I can tell, it’s fully functional.
Obviously, there are some weird things. When I first loaded things up, the orientation of the table was portrait, so Car Play showed as portrait, even in landscape position. I had to power down the tablet completely to fix that. But it was fixed. Might be other stuff later.
So, here’ the list of what you need. I will link to a couple of things I bought, but similar ones may work as well. I’m not an Amazon affiliate, so these are not affiliate links. Just plain links.
CarPlay Adapter. I bought a wired version of the CarLinKit adapter. Be aware, there are clones of these, but the often brick when you update the firmware, or so the internet says. Download the free app onto your tablet. $40.
AndroidTablet. They say any Android table running 4.4.2 will run the app. I suggest one that can charge wirelessly, for reasons I will explain later. I happen to be shopping during the 6th birthday for Alexa or something, so I got Kindle Fire HD 8 Plus for $55. They are normally $110. I thought $55 for a wireless charging, Android capable device was a steal. Unless you plan to go find a Chinese tablet on eBay or hope to catch a used one on FB Marketplace, you will probably be spending at least that.
OTG cable. I didn’t know what an OTG cable was. I still don’t know what the acronym is. But these are bales that let you use peripherals with devices like tablets, game systems, multimedia players, etc… In it’s most basic form, it converts a USB A plug from the CarPlay adapter into whatever you need to plug into your tablet. The Kindle Fire 7 is Micro USB, The Kindle Fire 8 is USB C. There are tons of these. Just search for a USB A to whatever-connection-you-need OTG cable. I got a 3 pack for about $9.
Tablet Car Mount. This is actually pretty important. Depending on the size of your tablet, you may need a pretty heft one. There are lots of $10-15 ones available, but the reviews are not great for real world use. I wanted amount that used my CD slot. Choose the one that will work the best for your car. I settled on this one, spent about $20. It seems to work OK for now, on regular streets.
AUX Input on the Radio. You need a way to get audio into the factory stereo system. The Fit has a mini plug. I imagine you could use bluetooth as well. You will be taking the audio from the valet into the stereo.
That’s technically all you need to make things work. $124. Not bad to get Apple CarPlay into your car without replacing the factory radio.
So here’s my experience. I started out using a 2019 Kindle Fire HD 7. Mainly because I had it available. The problem is that I don’t use the battery well on this device. It drains little, sits in standby and the gets thrown onto charge. These are cheap Amazon tablets. They work well, but my battery does not last long.
Here’s how the car mount works. There are these paddle things that slip into the CD slot a bit, then you tighten a bolt to make them spread apart and hold in place. It seems pretty tight. I am more worried about the swivel tablet mount moving that the CD slot part.
Once I have things completely finalized, I plan to manage the cables, and velcro the CarLinKit box to the mount.
I started out with the Fire 7. It is a good size. I actual bought a different case for it. My only complaint was battery life. My 7 inch Fire was 3 years old and I have not been “training” the battery to last a long time. I was unsure what to expect with the battery life and use the adapter.
I used the tablet in the morning for about an hour. Then again, briefly at lunch. I left the tablet on stand by in between. By 5 pm it has drained the battery entirely. Not great for a long trip.
So that took me down the rabbit hole of how to charge through the same micro USB port that you are sending data through. You can plug in the adapter, use it while you want. And then plug in a charger. That defeats the whole purpose of the box.
I spent a lot of time search and looking for information about this. I looked at a lot of OTG cables that claimed they could do both, or at least not drain the battery when in use. People were talking about soldering wires and stuff. After a couple of hours, I gave up. The Kindle Fire HD 7 does not seem to be able to charge and use the data functions at the same time- through the Micro USB port.
Enter wireless charging. I used to have a couple of these laying around, the wireless charging pads seem to work even if the USB port is passing stats. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus allows for wireless charging. So, I snagged one, and am eager to test it out.
In the mean time, I have tested the general charging state of the new HD 8 Plus. So far it seems to have about twice as much battery life as my 7 inch version. Which means I can probably get a day and a quarter out of one charge.
[Update: Ordered 32GB Wifi version and it will be here Nov 2nd.]
On Friday I will order an iPad Mini. Here’s why:
I’m an Apple fan. I’ll admit it. I have a little white Apple sticker on my car. I am typing on a MacBook Pro. I have an iPhone 5. My son has an iPod Nano with a watch case. My wife has an iPod Nano (older generation), We have an iPod Touch. I have an iPad 1 (64GB, 3G). I like Apple products. Obviously, we don’t buy everything they make, but we do choose them for many of our electronic desires.
I like the quality of their stuff. There is a reason that Mac computers cost more, and still sell well. There’s a reason that iPads and iPhones sell so well. The interface is great, the quality is great. Their products do what most people want and need. And they do it without complications.
Someone mentioned this to me yesterday, and it is so very true. Apple announces a product, and then delivers it a few weeks later. They don’t talk about prototypes and what they will hopefully deliver, they just deliver. The iPad mini is announced and I will own one the first week of November.
I’m cheap. I like technology, but I am not rich. I can’t buy the latest greatest everything. I still use an iPad 1. I got that device when I worked at a church. They bought it for me. And I got the biggest, baddest version available. When I left, the 3rd gen iPad was already out and they let me take the iPad 1 with me. Which is good because I wasn’t going to be able to upgrade myself. I can’t just drop $600 on a tablet.
In fact, in order to finance the purchase of the iPad Mini, I’m selling the iPad 1 and some other stuff. I’m giving up the screen size, but look at what I’m getting.
The iPad Mini either meets or surpasses the iPad 2’s tech specs. It has cameras, faster processing, runs iOS6 and all my apps. Even Siri. My iPad 1 is discontinued and can’t update to iOS6. I get a lot, and give up a little size. Which I actually like.
I want the form factor and my apps. I own a Nook Tablet. Actually, now I’m selling it. When I first got it I was sure I would be using it all the time. I really liked the smaller size (compared to my iPad) and was just sure it would be my new favorite tablet. And while I did carry it around for a while, I went back to my iPad. I wasn’t a huge fan of the interface. I could read all the same books using my Nook app on the iOS devices. (and read iBooks and Kindle as well) Forget typing on the thing. Not because it’s small, I type on my iPhone all the time. The keyboard just didn’t work very well for me. I had planned to use Evernote on the Nook, but couldn’t get past the keyboard.
I wanted to carry a smaller tablet. I ended up using my iPhone more. I didn’t want to lose my apps. I didn’t want to adjust to a new interface.
So now, the iPad Mini comes out. I won’t buy the 3G version. I have used 3G on my iPad a total of 3 times in the years I’ve owned it. I expected to use it all the time, but I just don’t need it. And because of cost, I won’t get the 64GB version.
I wish the iPad Mini had come in starting at $299. Would have loved $249. But when the specs were as good or better than the iPad 2 which is priced $70 more, I get the price. The $329 price settles in the range of Apple products nicely. New iPod Touch is $299. Larger iPad Mini is $329. iPad 2 is $399.
The only way it could have been in the $200-249 range is if they severely reduced the capability of the device, and made it out of cheaper material. Think about it, if they had released a bulkier, cheaper made 7″ tablet, people would be complaining about how poor the product was. They would rightly be pointing out that this isn’t the brand that Apple has built. People want Apple quality. And now that they have it, some pundits and blogs are complaining about the price tag.
I learned something about shopping a long time ago: If you can’t tell the difference between products, buy the cheaper one. If you can, by the better one.
I have (soon “had”) a cheaper 7″ tablet. I don’t use it. The Apple products are better. So now, I will buy a better small tablet. And I will be making a significant upgrade from my iPad 1. I haven’t been this hyped about a new Apple product since the iPad first came out.
I had wanted to pick up either the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire. I looked at a lot of previews and reviews, and two things drove me toward the Nook tablet. One was the poor/mixed reviews of the Fire. The other was the paper specs on the Nook Tablet. It has twice the processing power, RAM, and storage with an expansion slot. Even after it became known that the internal storage of the Nook limited user content to just 1GB, the expansion slot more than made up for it.
So we got it and have been playing with it for a few weeks.
I find myself wondering if we made a mistake. I know I can always root the thing and turn it into a basic android tablet, but I’d like to keep it as a Nook device. My concerns isn’t about the performance, really, but about something else.
Yes, it needs more apps. Like a lot more. And it needs more free apps. I know the selection will grow, but man. Still, I was able to load Evernote on there so, it’s not all bad. And Hulu Plus and Netflix have been getting a work out. I like the crossword app as well. All the apps work great. Just need more of them.
Text input is a lot different. It’s mostly a QWERTY keyboard, but some of the non-letter keys are located in odd spots. I’m still not used to it,,and I make typos all the time.
Video playback is great. Really great. Netflix and Hulu Plus look amazing, and both have decent interfaces. Watching your own video is more complicated. It takes a bit of navigating to get to them. I’ve tested a few file types, and was able to get a 720p .mp4 to play without trouble.
Of course, reading a book is great. The 7 inch size is really the right size for an e-reader. Lighter than my iPad and bigger than my iPod Touch or iPhone. Some people have said that trying to read magazines and comics leaves a bit to be desired on the smaller screen, but I haven’t tried that yet.
But those are not the things that make me think I may have made a mistake. No, I may have made a mistake because I think Amazon is going to win the low end tablet competition. When shopping for the tablets, most employees did not know anything about the Nook Tablet, and while they may have been mistaken about the Fire, at leas they knew something about it. In store displays are very telling. target and Walmart still does not have a Nook Tablet on display. One store still have the Nook Color listed at $250, instead of the new $200 price. Best Buy did have the Tablet, but had two Kindle Fires o display in very prominent floor space.
Barnes and Noble just isn’t getting the play that the Fire is. Amazon was first to announce and first to market with their device. If attention is any indication of success the Nook Tablet is barely a spark compared to the Kindle Fire. I don’t know how much Amazon spent on promotion, but Barnes and Noble obviously hasn’t spent enough. They are not getting the push the Fire is getting.
I hope the Nook Tablet stays around. I think I’m keeping the one we have. Every time I think of returning it, I see another poor review of the Fire. I’m not saying the Fire is a bad device, just that it’s no better than the Nook Tablet unless you are heavily invested in the Amazon media world (Prime, music store, etc…) If by some chance I end up with a discontinued tablet, I’ll root it and run regular Android software on it. The faster processor and larger memory will be better for that. I’m hoping an update frees up some of the internal memory and we start seeing more apps become available.
I wondered how the base iPad compared to the Kindle. If someone just wanted the e-reader capability would the iPad be the way to go, or should they stay with Kindle? I am assuming that quickly all the same books will be available on both devices.
I’ve played with a Kindle a little, and it’s got a nice feel to it. I own an iPhone and iPod Touch, so I can imagine how the iPad feels.
The base iPad run $500 while the larger (similar sized) Kindle runs $490. The 6″ display model is $260.
The larger Kindle has about 4GB of storage, while the iPad weighs in at 16GB. But both will store more books than you need.
iPad is a color display, but either show basic text pages just fine.
The Kindle boasts global 3G downloads via “Whispersync”, while the iPad base model would only be wifi. The price goes up to $629 + monthly charges for 3G access. This is really where the Kindle beats the iPad. Even so, do you really need to be able to get your next book anywhere, or could you wait until the next wifi hotspot?
If you are just doing book reading with this device, then maybe the Kindle is the way to go (especially if you don’t mind the small version). But if you want to do anything else, the iPad does so much more. if you own an iPhone or iPod and want and e-reader, the iPad is the way to go.
The real Kindle Killer would be new release e-books priced the same as a paperback… $7. That’s what I would like to see from any e-reader. I’m hearing $8-15 for iBooks.
The best advice about the rumors comes at the bottom:
“Everybody pre-conceived the iPhone based on the iPod and, to a lesser extent, the Newton. Everybody was wrong. Today, most everybody is pre-conceiving the tablet based on the iPhone. Maybe we’re all wrong again, or maybe the leaks are better this time.”