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My tablet no longer works. I need a replacement pretty quickly.

Ideally my new tablet will have the following properties:

  • T Mobile's data network (1700 and 2100 band?)
  • easily rooted
  • can run Linux or Android's linux
  • Bluetooth
  • a clamshell bluetooth keyboard accessory would be good, mouse even better.

I want to

  • use it like a regular tablet to navigate when I get off the subway
  • use it like a laptop at meetups
  • pipe video to a big screen from it when presenting or demoing code
  • utilize it as a mini screen to expand my laptop's desktop size when working at home

I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on it.

  • By "Can run Linux", what distro are we talking? Android is Linux, would rooted Android be enough for you? – JMY1000 Dec 14 '17 at 3:31
  • @JMY1000 Yes, technically Android is Linux... but I mean like a distro with a windowing system ideally. – Aaron Hall Dec 14 '17 at 3:45
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    How much is an arm and a leg? 200? 500? 700? What kind of battery life are you looking for? How much storage? Do you need a certain level of performance, and if so, how much and for what applications? – timuzhti Dec 14 '17 at 3:45
  • @Alpha3031 IDK, if I can do it for a lot less than an ipad, I'd prefer that. – Aaron Hall Dec 14 '17 at 3:47
  • It looks like the HP Spectre X2 might fit some of your requirements, but it doesn't have GPS, so you'll be able to use maps, but not navigation with live location "you are here" shown on the map. It reportedly works with T-mobile, but since it only has official support for Verizon, this is the sort of thing I'd check with T-mobile. There is no official Linux support either, but it should work and people have got it working. – timuzhti Dec 15 '17 at 4:21
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Update: Three different T-Mobile employees lied to me ("Any tablet that says 4G or LTE works"). After I got the tablet, I tried to use it with my sim card. It wouldn't work, so I called their support. They suddenly mention something about an IMEI number. I read the number off the device. They now tell me it won't work.

Now I have a cheap, low-powered Windows 10 tablet wasting away in my desk at work.

I suspect you can't get just any device you want with an always on connection, and I further suspect I'll have to get a "hotspot" if I want to use my data plan on a linux device.


I asked this question here because I felt it was very difficult to find exactly what I was looking for.

I was right.

Dead Ends

I used Google. I searched Amazon, ebay, newegg, T-mobile (my wireless provider), and even Google's shopping. Then I found a site called Frequency Check that would let me search by frequency.

Having been given 1700/2100 bands by a guy at T-Mobile, that's what I primarily searched for - but later I was told by multiple T-Mobile sources that anything with LTE or 4G would work.

Anyways, the models I was finding on Frequency Check were not showing up in my searches. It turned out that, when I could find them, they were only available on the foreign versions of sites. Out of desperation, I started to consider trying to make a purchase from a Chinese site using Google Translate.

The Holy Grail

After much searching and wondering what I was missing (since I knew the market for this could not have completely died in the USA), I finally decided to watch some CES videos on Youtube, and then I Googled "CES tablet" for a rundown, and finally found what seems to be an ideal 2 in 1 tablet, the Alcatel Plus 10.

This still seemed only available from non-US sources, at least directly from Alcatel's site. But then I found a new in box factory unlocked one on ebay.

Here's my original requirements lined up with my conclusion:

  • "T Mobile's data network (1700 and 2100 band?)" - The keyboard has LTE, and by some descriptions can provide connections for up to 15 other people.

  • "easily rooted" - well, it comes with Windows 10 home, and it is unlocked, so while I won't get the experience of rooting an android tablet... I only have so much time... and I'll have administrator access on the device.

  • "can run Linux or Android's linux" - Windows 10 home should provide me with a Linux subsystem, but I'm also entirely prepared to install straight Linux on it.

  • "Bluetooth" - this was important because I wanted to get a clamshell keyboard, but I suppose I can do without it. However, I just checked the specs and it's supposed to be included.

  • "a clamshell bluetooth keyboard accessory would be good, mouse even better" - well, I suppose I can get a bluetooth mouse now

  • "use it like a regular tablet to navigate when I get off the subway" - I do worry about this a bit, it's a little larger than my almost 8 inch tablet that I used to use to navigate, and google maps was an app only a few taps away, but the keyboard is supposed to include GPS - so I guess we'll see what happens.

  • "use it like a laptop at meetups" based on the form-factor, I think I can stop lugging my larger Lenovo Yoga around in a backpack now, a major improvement for my lifestyle.

  • "pipe video to a big screen from it when presenting or demoing code" - It has HDMI mini, so I suppose I need a cable and/or an adapter.

  • "utilize it as a mini screen to expand my laptop's desktop size when working at home" - Still not sure how I'll do this, but I still want to.

The hard part about this specific model is that I couldn't easily find a seller in the US.

But I scored - I managed to snag what was advertised as the last one on ebay, new in the box, unlocked, for ~$310 including a 2 year warranty (which I hope not to use, and didn't mind spending less than $30 for).

As I was prepared to spend as much just on a tablet and more for a clamshell laptop-y case (probably another $100) I think I have found a solution that doesn't cost an arm and a leg (another of my requests).


Sidenotes:

A possible competitor was the Asus Zenpad 10, also ~$300, with Android and an optional dockable keyboard (noted in the early promotional material) but I could not find the optional keyboard accessory for sale anywhere- which I would expect to be pricey anyways.

I am usually reticent to buy things as complex as computers or phones on ebay, but given the difficulty of my search and my inability to find a seller through other venues, I really had no choice.

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Look at the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition.

Also found Onda V80 has it running.

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  • I think you got downvoted because neither of these tablets support a data plan in the 1700/2100 bands (or at all). – Aaron Hall Dec 14 '17 at 21:44
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    Can you please explain why you recommend these please? The more details the better. Please check out our answer quality guidelines. – Cfinley Dec 14 '17 at 22:56
  • Also consider that Ubuntu Phone is no longer produced; that means the Aquarius M10 Ubuntu Edition may not be a valid choice at this point. – Thomas Ward Dec 15 '17 at 18:33

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