Tablet for Home Automation

I am looking to purchase 5 tablets to be wall-mounted at various locations in my house for home automation purposes, e.g., integration with Smartthings hub, Ring Doorbell, August door lock, Harmony hub…

I noticed these 2 at Bestbuy:

Both happen to be the same price at Best Buy.

Which one would be better for my application? Pros & cons?

Any comments / suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


From what I’ve read you’ll have a much easier time getting it all working on the Samsung tablet. Getting around the fire web browser to login to your Samsung account appears to be a challenge. If the Samsung tablets are preinstalled like the phones, the smartthings app will already be in there, just login and go.

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The Samsung is much better and at the same price, I would go with it.

However, I am a fan of the cheap Fire Tablets HD8 that you can easily get for $50 when they go on sale. I’ve even gotten them for $35 (2 for $70). However, there are some issues with them that would be avoided going with the Samsung.

With the Fire Tablets, the lock screen is a pita to get out of without some type of physical interaction. There are ads on the lock screen that unless you pay to get rid of, will cause a “not-so-pleasant” experience. And then there is the Samsung Login mess.

A Pro of the Fire HD8 is that you get Show Mode and Hands Free Alexa if you are into those things.

Whatever you decide, look into ActionTiles @tgauchat for your interface. It is pretty freaking awesome! And to take the cool factor even further, look at Fully Kiosk Browser for a Kiosk like experience running ActionTiles. Finally, look at DAKboard for a Screen-Savor with real-time information and a Photo Slide Show running in the background.

OMG Awesome stuff!


I have 3 Amazon Fire HD. They were easy to set up with ActionTiles and Fully Kiosk browser. I love them.


Fire HD8 for $50.

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Both tablets are popular models for use as wall mounted dashboards.

As others have noted, the Fire Tablets tend to be popular as they can usually be picked up for even cheaper than Best Buy has them listed for ($30-50 USD for the 8"), but they come with a variety of quirks like not being able to run the SmartThings app, not having Google Play for installing some apps, and not being able to be automatically unlocked - which is a popular feature for using motion from the built-in tablet camera to automatically turn on the screen.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab line doesn’t have these quirks, but they’re generally more expensive at $150+ USD. In your case, they seem to be the same price, so the Galaxy Tab would likely be a better overall unit.

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That Samsung Tab A device you linked to is an open box item which means it was once purchased and returned by someone else. Not a direct comparison if you’re looking at it from a cost basis.

The Fire 8” is popular for a home automation tablet but the lock screen is a PITA to get around if you’re not using the Fully Kiosk Browser.

If you aren’t going to be using SharpTools or ActionTiles as your tablet dashboard, I’d suggest going with the Samsung if you don’t mind it being an open box item.

Thanks for the ActionTiles love, @rontalley, @Pantheon, et al.!

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I just have the basic housebrand Bestbuy tablets running ActonTiles and they are great. Just make sure 8" minimum. If they ever die I’m going 10" from Gearbest. More room for tiles, media and AT looks great exspecially with all the new graphic features. Yes a shameless plug from a happy user.


I’m still somewhat unclear as to the differences (pros & cons) between using the Amazon Fire Tablet vs an Android Tablet such as the Samsung tablet. I’m looking to purchase 4 of them to be used permanently mounted on walls, for home automation purposes and particularly integration with Smartthings and related Apps. Right now I’m leaning towards 10" tablets.

I know that the Fire tablets tend to be lower cost so I’m looking for other differences such as functionality, ease of use, compatibility with Smartthings, Action Tiles and other home automation Apps, stability quality of display, etc.

All comments / suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Reading through the responses, I agree with everyone’s assessments…

Regular android if you don’t mind the added cost and you get full functionality.

FireTablets if you need them cheap but less functional. Added bonus of having hand free Alexa added to the mix. Can not bypass lock screen. Comes with Ads. Sometimes needs to be rebooted.

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Just to clarify/ expand on the the differences between Android and Fire tables for use as wall-mounted home automation dashboards:

Can SmartThings be installed on a Fire tablet? If so, what would be the difference, if any, in the functionality and experience compared to a Samsung tablet?

Can Action Tiles be installed on a Samsung tablet? If so, what would be the difference, if any, in the functionality and experience compared to a Fire tablet?

How about differences in other home automation Apps such as Ring Doorbell, August Doorbell and others?

All comments/suggestions are welcome and much appreciated.

The short version of it is Fire tablets are cheaper with the tradeoff of being more restricted. They’re popular because of their great price-to-performance ratio… not necessarily because they are the ‘best’, but they are cheap and good enough for most people’s needs.

SmartThings cannot be installed on a Fire tablet out of the box.

Dashboards like AT and run in a web browser and thus can run on any modern device including Samsung tablets and Fire tablets.

As noted above, Fire tablets are a bit more restricted. No Google Play for installing apps and cannot be automatically unlocked. An app called Fully Kiosk Browser is really popular for viewing web based dashboards and it has a really neat feature where it can wake the tablet on motion.

On a normal Android device, that means you have the tablet automatically go to sleep after a period of inactivity with the screen completely off and Fully Kiosk Browser is able to use the camera as a motion detector and then wake the tablet to display your dashboard when you walk up to it (a really neat and convenient feature).

Fire tablets cannot be automatically unlocked though… which means you can’t let the tablet go completely to sleep. Most people work around this by either displaying a black screensaver or some other type of screensaver (photos, calendars, etc) which the wake on motion feature does work with.

Regarding other apps (Ring, August, etc.), a normal Android device is going to have much broader support for a wide variety of apps as it has the full Google Play store on it. Lots of people have side loaded Google Play on their Fire tablets, but I don’t recommend it as it generally eats up precious resources on an already low powered device (and leads to instability in my experience).

One other thing to consider is how you are going to wall mount the tablet. There’s a wide variety of cost effective wall mounts available for Fire Tablets - for example a search for Fire Tablet Mount on Etsy yields a bunch of results. There’s also a wide variety of mounts for iPads (which tend to be much more expensive). There’s generally fewer wall mount options for other tablet models.

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It seems that price and Alexa integration are the only advantages of the Fire Tablet over Android Tablets. With respect to Alexa integration, does the Fire tablet just work as a regular Alexa device such as an Echo Dot or does it have further integrations that allows the tablet to do more than a regular Alexa device, in terms of Alexa integration? Tx

Alexa works like a regular Echo Device with the advantage of showing information on the screen. For example, “Alexa, what’s the weather?” Not only will it tell you but will also show you a forecast. That’s just one example.

Another advantage, for me at least, is the music app, it will display the lyrics, artist, etc. They also act as Echo Shows when you put them in Show Mode.

If you are deep off into the Amazon (Alexa) stuff then go with FireTablets. If not then a regular Android would be better.

I have 10 Fire Tablets mounted around the house. Most of them are always on running ActionTiles and DAKboard for the screen saver.

They are not the best by a long shot but for using them for what I use them for, they are “almost” perfect. None of mines have Ads and I don’t care about the Lock Screen as it is only a swipe up to unlock them.


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