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As a Mom of a very curious and rambunctious 18-month old I have to find creative ways to get work done. It occurred to me if I just sprinkled screens all around the house that maybe, just maybe, I could come close to getting in a full day’s work on a semi-regular basis. Initially, I was just hauling my laptop around the house. I would pack it into a bag and move it to the next location Rigel and I were going to be hanging out in. That worked pretty well for awhile but the bigger he got, the harder it became to keep him from trying to touch everything on my laptop. I wondered if I could work on a tablet; no keys would mean much less interest from Rigel. But my iPad was about 6 years old and had barely enough of it’s 16gb memory left to run two apps much less the virtual desktop I would need to run for work. I considered getting a new iPad but I was looking at spending at least $329 to only get about 32gb of memory. I also looked at the Microsoft Surface Go which was appealing because lately I’ve been gravitating more toward my PC but that was going to cost at least $399. No I couldn’t justify the cost in these uncertain times.
That’s when I came across this Youtube video ‘Yes You Can Get Creative on an Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet’ and I remembered that when I got Rigel his Amazon Fire Tablet I had intended to install the Google Play Store on it so he could have other kids’ learning apps on it that were not available within the Amazon Appstore.
The Amazon Fire Tablets all run on a version of Android which means that with a little tweaking and a few permissions you can run the Google Play Store. Here’s the instructions for how to install and run the Google Play Store on an Amazon Fire Tablet.
So once I knew I could get most every app I needed to work effectively I decided to go ahead and order the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (currently $154.99 for the without ads, 64gb version). I chose this version of the Amazon Fire Tablet based on the processing speed and the size. While the 10 inch tablet was tempting I knew that if I went too big it would just be more of a target for Rigel’s antics. I also chose to go with the 64gb, ‘without ads’ option which was more expensive but since I purchased it over the holidays it was discounted about $30. You can always purchase the ad-supported version and then pay to have the ads removed later if you’re on a tight budget. But Amazon puts the tablets on sale fairly frequently so a deal is likely around the corner. Additionally, the Amazon Fire Tablet is expandable up to 1TB via microSD card, so in terms of memory it has potentially a longer shelf-life than an iPad.
The first thing I needed to make sure would work on my Amazon Fire tablet was the virtual desktop client that I have to use for work. Right now, I’ve been working primarily in VMWare Horizon and thankfully, it’s available in the Amazon App Store, so I could start working right away before I ever got the Google Play Store up and running.
Let me tell you, this alone has been a game-changer! I can work while plopped down on the couch watching Rigel play in his kitchen. I can go into the virtual desktop and get a little bit more work done while in bed without pulling out my large laptop. I used my Amazon Fire Tablet to work on the drive down to Florida (tethered to my cellphone hotspot) when we drove down over Christmas to see my Dad (and inter my Mom’s ashes). So from this stand-point alone, this tablet has already paid for itself!
Once I got Google Play Store set-up on my Amazon Fire Tablet it opened it to all the other things I do, including working on this blog. I have WordPress, One Note, One Drive, and Microsoft Edge Browser (I can sync things I find on my laptop to it). This means that if I have any downtime I can work on blog posts, brainstorm, and even *gasp* study! Basically, if I’m downstairs I’m working on my Amazon Fire Tablet, to the point that when Rigel sees the tablet he now says ‘working’ – kind of makes me a little sad because I’d like to spend ALL my time with him but at least he knows Mama is hustling.
I know some people are probably hesitant to get an Amazon Fire Tablet because they worry about all the Amazon-oriented stuff on it and honestly if you’re a recovering Amazon addict, who can blame you. But a couple of weeks ago Amazon updated the OS on the Fire tablets and streamlined the home screen so it’s much less Amazon-spammy. You can also customize the home screen further once you’ve installed the Google Play Store. AndroidPolice.Com has this great article with ideas on how to make your Fire tablet look more like a regular android tablet.
Some unintended things that have come about since getting this tablet is that it has encouraged me to read more as well as listen to audiobooks. I also really like that it has a device dashboard which allows me to control all my Alexa-enabled devices in the house without saying anything (really useful when Rigel is sleeping).
Do I wish I’d gotten an iPad? I mean, they’re pretty and if I’m interested in writing something on a tablet, an iPad is going to provide the superior experience but I still can’t justify the expense at this point on a device that doesn’t have expandable memory. And since I also have an iPhone that needs to be replaced soon (it’s 3 1/2 years old) I’d rather put my savings into that purchase which is much more needed. Plus I doubt an iPad could withstand my toddler’s punishment. Man, that would make me paranoid – I don’t think there’s a screen protector in the world that can withstand that little demolition man.
It’s not easy working with a toddler around but with a little ingenuity and strong legs, there’s nothing a determined Mama can’t do. Sure I work a lot standing up these days and in one hour to two hour chunks but I’m getting it done the best I can. So Moms let me know in the comments if there’s anything you’ve started doing to squeeze work in when you have to work around the little ones. Are you using more mobile devices? Have you found a special toy that distracts your kids for a long period of time? Let me know and I’ll be sure to share. Also follow me on Instagram to see all the Mom productivity madness, as I try to stay on track with work and school in 2021.
You can do all the hard things,
** this post was not sponsored by Amazon.com – the Fire Tablets discussed and displayed were purchased with my own money.**