Best Tablet for Smartthings

Hello,

I am planning to use 3-4 approx 10" tablets wall-mounted in my house for integration with Smartthings (and other smart home apps such as Ecobee thermostat, Ring Doorbell, August Doorlock, Harmony Hub, Surveillance etc)

I would like to determine which tablet would be best for the above. The three that I’m looking at are: Amazon Fire HD 10.1, Galaxy Tab A 10.1 and Ipad Pro 10.5.

Any comments/suggestions regarding which of the above tablets would be best for my applications would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your comments/suggestions.

Robert

ActionTiles keeps anonymous hardware / OS statistics of our users, and the top brands in order are:

  1. Amazon
  2. Apple
  3. Samsung (trails far behind in popularity, based on the ActionTiles user sample set).

BTW: Most tablets running ActionTiles use 8" or 7" screens. People are thrifty, and 8" is really plenty of space if you tailor your Panels to the area of the home you are operating in). 8" is also less obtrusive on your wall.

So you have narrowed down to the most popular list, though don’t rule out any “decent” alternatives. I advocating buying used, though is harder to find 3 or 4 of the exact same, so this is not the best option for your situation.

Based on your specific models:

PROs:

  1. Amazon: Best hardware/price ratio by far (especially when Amazon has a sale, or check out the refurb-warehouse deals). Built in Alexa and Alexa Show Mode. ActionTiles is in the Amazon Appstore. Several inexpensive 3D-printed mounting options, and lots of users to give you ideas for mounting. Kiosk-mode browsers offer wake-on-front-camera motion detection (also works on Samsung, but not Apple). Tons of Android Apps, including Tasker and AutomateIT for macros. Links to Alexa as a display for nearby Echos.

  2. Apple: Highest performance. Home Kit / Siri compatible (there’s an unofficial Home Kit bridge for SmartThings - don’t know if it is good). Lots of high-end mounts available. Runs ActionTiles quite well in Safari (performance isn’t great on older iPads).

  3. Samsung: Great middle-ground for price. Native Samsung experience implies you might get the “best” possible SmartThings App experience. Samsung features (S-Pen model, etc.), are quite nice, but may not really be needed for a mounted tablet. Least “locked-down” of your 3 choices. Probably can be rooted (Search XDA forums).

CONs:

  1. Amazon: Locked down, with minimal hacking options. No Google Play Store without hacking, so harder to find some Apps. Impossible (or nearly?) to run SmartThings App - but you don’t need SmartThings App on a “daily basis”, so ActionTiles may suffice. Must remain plugged in if you want to avoid the lock screen (i.e., swipe to view ActionTiles or access anything) - but remaining plugged in is absolutely feasible.

  2. Apple: Expensive. Rather locked down. Fewer Kiosk Mode features - I doubt there is a wake-on-front-camera motion detection option; perhaps can tap once to open? App selection is different than Android - personally I think Android has much more choice, and choice is good and keeps Apps cheaper).

  3. Samsung: Ummm… it’s just less popular. Probably because of pretty high cost without giving you proportionate advantages over Amazon. If the SmartThings App is critical, then Amazon is ruled out though. Perhaps 1 of your 4 Tablets should be a Samsung and be your “SmartThings control / configure” master-station.

I hope the above jumble helps a bit.


Personally, in your situation, if my budget were wide open, I’d go Samsung (since I’m not an Apple fan at all). If you have any budget concerns, using Amazon minimizes your investment - i.e., less “sunk-cost” if you decide to switch 1 or all to something else.

My household has all 3, since we use them for various purposes, and yes… ActionTiles testing.

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I’m using 7” ‘Digiland’ android tablets purchased for $40 each. No need to jailbreak or reconfigure.
They work fine.

Additionally you can run sharptools on them, which allows all sorts of integration possibilities.

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I would also consider the new barnes and noble 10 inch. Preloaded with Google play store and about the same specs as amazon.

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Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful comments. I am not experienced in software installation and setups - so my comments below may be very basic…

It is surprising that Smartthinngs can’t be installed on the Amazon tablet…How about my other apps - Ecobee, Ring, August lock, Harmony hub etc. Would all these be an issue with the Amazon tablet?

All of these apps are currently on my android phone and/or my desktop computer. How important is it to have the apps on the tablets? What limitations would I have ln not having the apps on the wall- mounted tablets?

Would SmartTyles allow you to use the Smartthings and other apps even if the apps are not installed on the tablet? Limitations?

Other than the price, does the Amazon tablet offer any advantages over the Galaxy?

Thanks again for any comments/suggestions - much appreciated.

Robert

There may be a non-trivial number of home automation Apps that are not in the Amazon Appstore; so this is why using some technique to get the Play Store installed is important. Most Apps should work, but vendors/developers who don’t put their Apps in the Appstore generally have not tested on Amazon, so there’s no way of knowing which might have problems.

Samsung is well aware of the SmartThings App(s) problem on Amazon FireOS (for over 2 years). They never indicate if they intend to fix it. They are probably the only major App with this problem.

You don’t need the Apps on the tablets unless they offer a User Interface you want to use frequently. Use your phone for adding/removing SmartThings devices, scenes, automations, smartapps; Creating Hue Scenes; Doing advanced Ecobee configuration, etc., etc… Your wall Tablets should be kept as streamlined as possible to maximize performance and minimize maintenance.

But if an App has a very useful user interface that you need frequently at that wall Station (e.g., the Wyze Cam or Nest Cam App?) then don’t hesitate to try to install it.

Our Product is called ActionTiles. It does not require SmartThings to be installed on the same tablet or phone: It connects to the SmartThings Cloud directly or via our Cloud - not via the SmartThings App.

I already mentioned the advantages (PROs) in my first reply to this thread.

It’s really very easy to add Google Play, even I could do it.

I have not tried Harmony. I use a Fire HD10, but not as a wall mount.

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You mentioned that Action Tiles is usually installed on 8” or 7” tablets. The reason I was looking at 10” units is that the walls already have 9x6” cutouts that were previously used for an old intercom. A 10” tablet would cover those cutouts and I wouldn’t have to do any plaster work. Would there be any issues installing Action Tiles on a 10” tablet? Would you use 10” or 8” tablets in my situation?

Also, are you aware of any good wall mounts for the 8” and 10” tablets?

Thanks again,

Robert

What about screen burn in? I use an old Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 as my security camera screen which turns on when it detects motion. Even though the screen is not always on there is significant burn in. I see the same on all my Samsung phones past and present. I believe AMOLED technology is to blame… Cheaper tablets with IPS screens might be less subject to this. I’ve read Apple uses IPS so it doesn’t seem relegated to “cheaper tablets” but my home is an absolutely NO APPLE zone :face_vomiting::wink:

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  1. I consistently read that “modern” devices do not have burn-in issues.

  2. A lot of people use some sort of screen saver (even just complete black on Fire, with backlight still on in order to allow wake on tap or wake on motion and avoid lock-screen).

  3. And, finally, that’s another great reason to be conservative when buying Tablets. If the useful life of a tablet is only 1 or 2 years due to burn-in or obsolescence; then that’s easier to swallow if you paid $100 instead of $300.

ActionTiles works as good or better on Fire HD 10 than HD 8. You get more room for Tiles, or higher resolution / clarity of the text on the Tiles, and slightly better speed.

I would only use 10" if the extra cost were not a concern and/or if the extra size made it worth the expense for myself or family members to use (i.e., bigger icons & fonts, or more Tiles, or enjoying the bit of extra speed).

Since HD8 is most popular, frames are a bit easier to find (and cheaper), but you only need 1 frame vendor.

You can find a couple of popular inexpensive frames/mounts in the Announcements section of https://www.facebook.com/groups/SmartThingsUsersGroup ; and mounting ideas are a popular discussion there in general.

Keep in mind: You are not spending $1000 to $3000 (each!) for a professionally specialized tablet and mount!

Would the Samsung Galaxy 10 give an even higher speed than the Fire HD 10? By how much? Tx

If you spend less on the tablet, screen burn-in is a non issue. With OS updates, you need to replace every few years anyway…

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I ended up picking up an older Dell Latitude tablet last month that my work was getting rid of. I had to buy a new battery for it, but other than that it was free. I installed W10 and will be giving it a try with ST. I figured since the tablet was free it’d be worth trying to use for a bit. If it doesn’t work out or I have issues with it I’ll look into buying something different at that point.

Interesting, similar situation. I am currently looking at replacing a 8x15" Nutone hub intercom hole in backsplash tile in my kitchen with an in wall 10" tablet.

I’m personally not a fan of sideloading apps. I’m also trying to figure out how to show my ring doorbell on action tiles. I have an 8" temp fire tablet that I’m trying it out on… The new nook one is an interesting option.

I know it matters what tablet I go with for the in wall holder, but any suggestion on how to nicely cover this hole (without redoing all the backsplash) is much appreciated.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, Ring does not offer a stream that we can use. If you can find an API, please point us to it and we’ll do some research.

I hate to have to emphasize that ActionTiles just “isn’t” a video-matrix app. It’s primary and core purpose is SmartThings control. We have to focus on the area we are experts in.

Frankly, I’ve never grasped the value of having video streams display in my automation app.
I can certainly see using events that come from that camera to generate automated actions. But if I wanna see images from the cam, can’t I just open its app?

Cue JD Roberts: choice is good! lol

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I think it is reasonable to hope that a home “view and control” panel allows “viewing” of a valuable asset: Home video camera streams. It’s reasonable to hope … not expect.

High end HA platforms have offered this to various degrees for years, and the new ones are also aiming to provide it.

We’re glad that this sub-feature of ActionTiles does work to some degree for a lot of Customers; though we wish the use case were not so darned compelling - because we don’t want our marketing materials to deceptively imply this is a core competency.

If a consumer considers video to be critical in their environment, they should use specialized software or a high-end HA, or both. A simple solution with some degree of fortitude might be to run a second tablet which is dedicated to tinyCam, Blue Iris, or the native App of the camera(s).