1. Snookie12350's Avatar
    My 6 year old son has Autism, ADHD, and a multitude of behavior problems. He uses my old iPad Air (I recently switched to Samsung S6 & Tab S2) but I've been wondering if it's possible to turn a cheap tablet into a very basic media player for just movies, music, and eBooks. He'd keep the iPad mainly for games, then have this basic media player tablet too.

    I'm not a pirate, but I do rip all my son's DVDs because I got tired of replacing DVDs he scratched or broke. He also has tons of home videos (that I took when he was younger or stuff he made in iMovie) that he always wants to access.

    My 128gb iPad will barely hold half the movies/videos. Right now it's all on a hard drive, connected to the TV through a Mikka media player, but he's getting to where he no longer wants to use the TV, preferring the tablet, which personally I'm the same way and working toward getting rid of the TVs.

    So...

    Can I get a tablet for maybe around $50-ish, that might be decent enough just for playing movies, music, and eBooks?

    If so, can it be easily rooted into a very basic media player with no, or very few, extra features? I'd be happy if it just had some kind of file system, something to play movies, play music, and something to read eBooks (picture storybooks).

    I've never rooted anything, but am pretty tech-savvy and have built computers from scratch in the past, so I think I can do this myself...

    Would like to be able to use OTG storage with either flash drives or maybe his hard drive (though he's likely to tear up a hard drive if it's always plugged in).

    6-7 inch screen would be ok, though he's used to 10 inch.

    Would rather it not have a camera at all.

    Would want WiFi completely inaccessible, as I don't see a reason we'd need it if I can transfer files with OTG or via computer.

    If there would be a way to make files read-only so my son can't delete them that'd be great.

    I've been searching for a media player tablet already made like this, but haven't found anything.

    My son's birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I'd love to do this as a present if there's a way to do it...

    Thanks in advance!
    01-17-2016 01:48 PM
  2. Rukbat's Avatar
    I'm not a pirate, but I do rip all my son's DVDs because I got tired of replacing DVDs he scratched or broke.
    I think that it it came to it, a judge would rule that fair use. You paid for the DVD and are only viewing the video on 1 device at a time. People have to make allowances for the fact that we're not all perfect.

    Can I get a tablet for maybe around $50-ish
    Yes, but I wouldn't advise it. They're junk, made from cheap parts, and if you ever need help, the only help you'll get (from us, the user community) is "get a new one". The same device can be sold under 20 different names, with 20 different case looks, and no one plays with enough of them to have enough experience to even guess at what you should try if something goes wrong. Figure on a name-brand tablet for about $150 - at least it's quality. The problem is storage, and 256GB cards are becoming available. Or you can get a cheap (like 99 cents, shipping from China included) OTG cable, a cheap (a few dollars) SD adapter (to plug an SD card into a computer) and use as many smaller (and cheaper per GB) cards as you need for all the videos. At worst, you'll have to switch cards for him when he wants to watch something on another card.

    If so, can it be easily rooted into a very basic media player with no, or very few, extra features?
    Just delete the icons you don't want him to use, leaving the ones he needs (video player, audio player, etc.) Move them all to one homescreen. Delete the blank homescreens. Now he has a tab with just a few icons and nowhere else he can go.

    Rooting is an arms race. In order to root a ROM (it's the ROM that gets rooted, not the device), you have to find a bug you can exploit to get temporary root. You have to be rooted to root the ROM. Developers keep trying to find exploits, Google keeps patching them and trying to make sure that there are none. (Manufacturers don't like replacing a phone that you rooted, bricked and don't know how to fix yourself - it end up costing them too much, so they don't want their devices rooted.) Anything with Lollipop or Marshmallow is probably not going to have root yet. (There are a few people who know enough to compile Android rooted and release the rooted ROM, but VERY few of them don't work for Google, so very few devices get rooted that way.)

    But, as I said, you don't need root to make the tab a "5 app device" or however many apps you want him to have. He's not going to learn to get into the device and run other apps. (If you want to learn which apps you can uninstall on the particular tablet you buy, go to XDA Forums, look for the forum for that particular tablet (look before you buy, to make sure someone is supporting it), and if there isn't already a thread on which apps can be uninstalled from that tablet running that ROM, one oof the experts with that model will find out pretty quickly and let you know.

    I'd be happy if it just had some kind of file system, something to play movies, play music, and something to read eBooks (picture storybooks).
    As I said, just remove all the icons except the ones you want him to have access to. (The apps are still in the app drawer - don't remove THAT icon. You can always go into the app drawer and pull another icon to the homescreen if he gets to the point that he can use another app. (You can run anything directly from the app drawer.)

    I've never rooted anything, but am pretty tech-savvy and have built computers from scratch in the past, so I think I can do this myself...
    Remember, this is Linux. The /usr/bin/su file is missing, so you can't su <your app> to run it with root permissions. Rooting just adds su. (You can't access /usr/bin if you're not rooted, though - that's th reason it's so difficult.) But there's really no need for root for your purposes.

    If a 128GB tablet isn't half large enough, you have 256GB or more of files, and you're not going to find any device these days with that much internal storage (let alone more). External storage (like an OTG cable [which reverses the microUSB port, so it's an input - but it can't be charged, because the power pins are now outputs to power the external device] is your only current option. You CAN use ES File Explorer to access a LAN drive (or a drive on a computer connected to the LAN). But a 1TB pad that can be charged while in use isn't available yet.

    Would like to be able to use OTG storage with either flash drives or maybe his hard drive (though he's likely to tear up a hard drive if it's always plugged in).
    I've had them plugged into computers and LANs for years with no problem. If you mean physically tear it up, that's another problem. But any current half-decent Android device should work with an OTG cable. (Just, as I said, you can't charge the tablet while it's using OTG. Those few really cheap tablets with proprietary charging ports ... well, who knows if they even do OTG on the microUSB port.)

    6-7 inch screen would be ok, though he's used to 10 inch.
    That should be doable in an LG or something similar for under $200.

    Would rather it not have a camera at all.
    Probably not even a $30 tab comes without one today, but just remove the camera icon from the home page.

    Would want WiFi completely inaccessible, as I don't see a reason we'd need it if I can transfer files with OTG or via computer.
    Then disable Wifi in the Notification pulldown. (And don't mention it to him, so he won't know to look for it.) Totally disabling Wifi means deleting a few system files - and that could brick the device, if one of the files also controls other things. (If you know Linux well enough to do that, the source for Android is published - just recompile it into a ROM with everything you don't want removed, and flash it to the device.)

    If there would be a way to make files read-only so my son can't delete them that'd be great.
    If they're on external SD cards, just write-protect the cards. It you're pulling them from another computer over Wifi, make them read only in that computer. Doing it to internally-stored files in Android requires root.

    I've been searching for a media player tablet already made like this, but haven't found anything.
    Some come close, like the Kindle Fire Kid's Edition, and there's a 2 year "if they break it, send it back for a replacement" warranty. But it's 8", and has the same problem as all the others - no power during OTG, etc. It is a good device, though.

    My son's birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I'd love to do this as a present if there's a way to do it...
    Wish him a happy birthday from me.
    Laura Knotek and Snookie12350 like this.
    01-17-2016 05:38 PM
  3. Snookie12350's Avatar
    Thanks for the detailed response! Unfortunately, my son gets into settings and changes stuff. Our 3DS was constantly switched to portuguese, things were deleted, or settings changed on devices that shouldn't have been, etc. On the iPad I do have one folder with apps he can't use, but still have to use Guided Access or as soon as I turn away he'll be opening apps he doesn't need to be in. So just putting apps he can use on the home screen is not an option.

    I've been looking at parental control apps, but another problem is if he knows something is available (like camera or an app store) Then it's a constant fight about him wanting it, so I'd rather not have those options even available.

    Archos and Coby have some discontinued media players similar to what I'm looking for, which led me to looking at video MP3 players, but trying to find one that's bigger (6 inch minimum), or maybe a portable DVD Player with SD/USB support... And maybe get a used Nook color for his books (still looking into what it supports as far as formats and features or ways to customize)...

    As for tearing up a hard drive, I did mean physically. Anything with a cord, the cord is likely to get torn up. I have a Seagate Goflex Wireless that he could use, but still figuring out if that's a good way to go (the app really sucks, and he could delete system files on it, not sure if I can make it read-only). He's broken several devices in the past due to drops/throwing, but has really been careful with the ipad the past few months, otherwise I wouldn't consider getting him any device. I limit time on the ipad due to behavior problems related to him wanting new apps or apps he can't have, new shows/apps that cost money, etc, plus if I don't limit game or camera time it affects his behavior... so that's why I'm wanting something very basic that he could use as much as he wants, as this would be more or less like just watching his TV, but portable.

    Will spend more time searching today and see what I can come up with.
    01-19-2016 10:26 AM

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