“What can I do with a mini Android PC?”
That’s one of the most common questions we get at the AndroidPCReview labs, and we always chuckle a bit. An Android mini PC can do anything that you’d expect your Android phone or tablet to be able to do – except make phone calls of course.
Computers have been getting smaller and more powerful for decades. A device that started out the size of a room and costs millions of dollars now fits in the palm of your hand. Laptops became smaller and smaller, eventually morphing into tablets computers and iPads. Your smartphone has more computing power than the Space Shuttle. Recently though, PCs have taken another leap forward (or smaller, depending on your perspective). Android mini-PCs – about the size of a flash memory stick – have appeared on the market. They come equipped with an HDMI-port for video, USB for accessories and a micro-SD slot for additional storage. Several come with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in for even more flexibility. While these Android PCs might not be able to completely replace your existing desktop or laptop computer, they do have some pretty amazing functionality for a very low cost. If you’re thinking about some great uses for an Android mini-PC, here are some ideas to get you started. Can you think of any cool options that we missed?
Uses For an Android Mini PC
Internet use is one of the most often used features of our smartphones. It almost goes without saying that it is one of the most popular uses for an Android mini PC. Whether it is a simple Google search to settle a bet, or using IMDB to find out what else that actor has been in, browsing the internet is the major benefit that these devices offer.
Netflix has over 30 million subscribers as of 2013, so there is a great opportunity for streaming TV and movies to any TV in the house. While some newer televisions have apps like Netflix, YouTube or Hulu built in, there are still millions of older TV sets out there that don’t. Being able to plug in a small Android mini PC to any computer’s HDMI port will instantly add this option without the cost of a new TV. What’s even better is that there are wires to clutter up the living room. No big-box components that need to be placed under the TV, taking up space. Extra functionality without having to constantly look at it!
Sure, we can sneak in a little “Angry Birds” while we’re waiting in the checkout line or “Temple Run” during lunch. What about during a commercial, halftime, or that fifteen minutes before American Idol comes on? Imagine adding kid friendly games to their TV such as “Where’s My Water?” With a low cost Android PC, this becomes easy.
We’re hardly ever without our smartphones, but sometimes it’s not convenient, or cost-effective, to make that call. With services like Skype, an Android PC equipped TV (and a USB webcam) becomes a full-service video conferencing solution. This is especially good for families that have relatives in other countries. Even if you don’t want to use a webcam, using Skype or Tango will help you save on the cost of international calls.
Picture Viewer / Music Player
By attaching a USB hard drive to your router, or sharing it within Windows, an Android PC can let you review pictures and documents from any TV in the house. You can also use it to turn your TV into a streaming music player for parties, or just anywhere you want your music collection to be.
For The Kids
You could just sit your child down in front of the TV to watch SpongeBob (please, we beg you…stop the insanity). Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if the kids could do something fun, educational or creative with their time? The best thing about an Android PC is that it has thousands of apps available to draw, paint, or (gasp) learn. On many of these apps, parents can set goals for their children and review their progress – making learning fun while avoiding the funny looking sponge.
Ok, so we’ve been trying to be fun up until now, but you an actually use an Android PC for real work too. The great thing about having the Google Android operating system is that you can get free substitutes for Microsoft Office such as ThinkFree Office or Google Docs and seamlessly link your productivity documents with your desktop at work. Now, let’s be realistic. Will these apps be as feature-packed as Office? Probably not. But they will let you review and share documents with ease.