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A State of the art Tablet for Cheap: How to Convert a Kindle Fire Into a Nexus 7

Published On January 4, 2013 | Electronics

Looking for a tablet that won’t break the bank this year? Maybe a touch screen tablet for a child in your family or a simple web browser for your grandma? Here is a nifty way to turn an old Kindle Fire e-reader into a much more versatile tablet that runs Google’s new Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1 for less than an iPod touch. The developer, Hashcode, has written a step-by-step procedure on how to run the state of the art operating system on an almost two-year-old tablet.

Google’s new operating system, Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1, is faster and smoother. It also supports tons of new features such as multiple users, faster widgets, and access to the Google Apps Marketplace. It is the same operating system used on the new Nexus 7. While it won’t be exactly the same, the new Nexus has faster hardware and a higher resolution screen, which is a great way to repurpose an old reader into a capable tablet.

All you need is a first generation Kindle Fire and a little bit of tinker time. You can find a refurbished Kindle Fire on eBay for around $100. The Fire originally ran an extremely customized version of Android Gingerbread 2.3. It features a 7-inch screen, a screen resolution of 1024 x 600, 512 MB of RAM, a Dual Core TI OMAP4 (4430) HS, 1.0 GHz processor and is Wi-Fi enabled. Ultimately, paired with the new more versatile operating system, that’s a pretty good deal for the price.

The best reason to upgrade is the versatile nature of Jelly Bean 4.2. The new operating system transforms a once fancy e-reader into a full-fledged tablet. The Fire’s original operating system is highly customized but also quite limited. Jelly Bean is a much more familiar style operating system with a more conventional desktop and icon feel. It also gives you the new mobile version of Google Chrome for a more enjoyable browser experience.

Equally important is the fact that the new operating system still allows you to do most of the things you are used to on the reader. You’re able to read books, listen to music, watch videos and play games. Another significant benefit to upgrading to Jelly Bean is the addition of hardware-accelerated HD video for YouTube and Netflix.  It can also run all the apps that require the newer Android Jelly Bean operating system. Not bad for $100!

As expected, there are a few drawbacks to porting Jelly Bean to the Kindle Fire. This upgrade isn’t coming directly from Amazon, so if your Kindle Fire is still under warranty there is a possibility the upgrade may void it. The upgrade is also not a perfect conversion to a Nexus 7. The screen of the Kindle Fire is a slightly lower resolution than the new Nexus and the battery life isn’t great. At the moment, there is no way to put the upgraded Fire into deep sleep mode, so it would be best to keep it plugged in when you can.

That being said, for the price, repurposing an old Kindle Fire is a great first tablet for young children or for anyone looking to unwrap a tablet this year.

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