Did you get a new iPad for Christmas? Not sure what to do with your old, slow, clunky tablet now that it's obsolete? No matter how outdated the old one may be, if it's working, it can be tapped for another use. The first step is "wiping" all the old data, apps, and digital clutter. After backing up and removing SIM cards, SD cards, and other storage, log out of email and social media accounts. On an iPad, the reset button is under the "General" tab in "Settings." On an Android tablet, look in "Settings" for "Back up and reset." Then try one of these 10 ways to give an old tablet new life.
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It's easy for old paper recipes to wind up scattered and poorly organized. Collect them in one place by scanning or photographing them and storing them as images on a tablet. Once your family's culinary history is digitized and organized like any other collection of photos, download a few recipe apps to supplement the recipes you already know and love. BigOven, Yummly, and Cookpad are a few popular options.
An old tablet can be turned over to kids or grandkids without worry about how they'll treat it. After returning the tablet to its factory settings, download some educational apps. For preschoolers, try Elastic Alphabets for Kids or Bug-Mazing Adventures in Learning. For kindergartners, consider Letter Cross-Tracking and Bamba Space Station. If you allow internet access, don't forget to set parental controls to filter out inappropriate content.
Salient Eye and similar apps use a tablet's camera to turn the device into a smart, reliable security camera. It starts with entering some simple settings, including a disarm password. Next, place the tablet with the camera facing the door or other likely intrusion point. Setting the device starts a countdown that allows you to leave the house. When the camera detects motion after that, it can send a text or email, sound an alarm, or do any combination of the three as it takes pictures of any intruder and uploads them to the cloud.
Video-enabled baby monitors are pricey -- and unnecessary when you can rig an old tablet to keep an eye on a sleeping baby. The Dormi app ($7 for life) turns an old Android tablet into a two-way video baby monitor. Parents use a phone or other mobile device to keep tabs. The app can even broadcast the sound of your voice into the other room.
The problem with regular picture frames is that you have to stare at the same picture all the time. Apps like Dayframe for Android devices and Digital Photo Frame for iPads turn an old tablet into a portal to memory lane. Uploading favorite photos creates a never-ending, always-changing loop of all those captured moments.
All you need to do to turn an old tablet into a high-tech alarm clock is download a free app like Night Clock and prop up the device on your nightstand. (There are Android and iPad apps with this same name but from different makers.) You can choose the look and feel of the clock face and how you want to wake up, whether to an alarm, streaming radio, or the morning's news.
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Wiping an old tablet leaves plenty of room to store an extensive digital music library. Services like Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio also have free membership options. To improve on the sound from a tablet's small, tinny speakers, buy an inexpensive set of Bluetooth speakers that connect easily and wirelessly.
Everything from the speakers to the TV to the Blu-ray player comes with a remote. They're all different, and they're easy to misplace. But with an app called Peel Smart Remote, a tablet becomes an advanced remote control that can handle all those devices. It can be linked to a current cable subscription or streaming video account for a sleek, touchscreen couch companion.
A computer's hard drive contains a treasure trove of personal data. From photos to financial information, all your information dies when your hard drive dies -- unless it's backed up. With an app like WiFi File Server Free, an old Android tablet can double as a wireless backup server. This role particularly suits a tablet that accepts removable storage, like a microSD card.
Of course, you can always just sell an old tablet -- especially if it's an iPad. Apple devices retain their value better and longer than comparable products. Sites like Gazelle make it easy to sell almost any mobile device. Currently, Gazelle is offering $60 plus a $20 credit for a 16GB iPad 2 in good condition. Before selling a tablet, it's best to go beyond a basic factory reset and securely erase all data, making it essentially impossible to recover.