Printer Control Center with Tablet review

Hipstreet W8Pro Windows 8.1 Tablet.

I thought you might like to know, how the Tablet, is working as a control center for my 3D printer. Pretty good so far!

The good:

The 8″ tablet seems to be about the right size. A 10″ might work ( Amazon has a 10″ unbranded Tablet at $75 that are interesting) ok also. But when I tried the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 up against the printer, it was just to big. So 12″ Tablets are out unless you have a really big printer. Of course at $850 for an i5 128GB model makes it more expensive than the printer. Of course if you have one sitting around doing nothing (why is it doing nothing?) Then maybe it makes sense, or maybe not! The Atom quad core handles all of the tasks very well. But slicing really big objects may not work due to only 2GB of memory. I am pleased with it so far. At $56 the price was not to high. The total cost was $72 though I upgraded the SD card to a 32GB at $21 so now total is $88. I did not really need an SD card in it at all as there was plenty of room at 17GB left over after the Win10 upgrade. Very impressed with the screen, very clear and easy to read.

The screen is fairly bright at 25% about the same as the Surface Pro for brightness at 25%.

Time to start Windows is about 30 seconds.

A lot faster than firing up a desktop or a Laptop.

The Bad:

I did have trouble with the Camera not working after the Win10 upgrade. I tried to install an updated driver and that was worse. I then rolled the driver back. Now the camera is working again. That is the only problem I have had so far, except it is never on the printer!

The Volume feels backwards. It is on the right side of the tablet. Volume up (+) is on the bottom instead of the normal top. You have to hold the power button for 5 seconds to turn it on. To turn it off is 5 seconds also. The turn off time is normal on most tablets, but most just need a single push to turn on. The Battery only lasts about 2 hours playing a game. I have not seen how playing Netflix effects battery life.

Ok so the dang thing plays Netflix perfectly. And I keep removing it from the printer to play Candy Crush Saga. I also hauled it to the doctors office, so I could play Candy Crush Saga! Now dang it I bought it so that I could run the printer, but I keep stealing it to play with. I know this is not really bad, but well, it is!

The Ugly:

The USB/power injector cable is just not pretty. But then very few cables are “pretty”. I am thinking about designing and printing a docking connector. That would probably be a better solution than the quick release mount. I could also incorporate a USB hub as part of the dock. This would give me more options like a mouse without the hassle. I did look at Bluetooth mice but true Bluetooth mice are relatively expensive. So have a USB port for a nice cheap Logitech mouse would be better.

Winter is coming up and that is when I get projects like the dock out and work on them.

Overall:

Using a tablet as a Control Center is not a new idea. I found a similar project from around 2012. And YouTube has many videos about it. But setting it up to be powered by the printer and run everything from Sketchup to Cura to Repetier, all on the same Tablet might be. And the fact that Now you can find cheaper Windows tablets, that make it easier, for most people to successfully finish this project. Most of the others used Android Tablets to build their projects.

I still think that a Linux Tablet with Ubuntu would be a better proposition. This would cut out Sketchup as it is windows based. But there are no true Linux Tablets to be had as yet. Some of the Android and the Windows Tablets can take Ubuntu with some work.

Do not even try to upgrade a 16GB Tablet to Win10. Stick with Win 7 or 8. You will not be left with a useable amount of storage, most likely, if you upgrade. You can use the SD card as storage, but that makes it slower. And 8GB is no go. You may be able to slim down Win10 on a 16GB and have it work just fine, but that can be a lot of work!

For this to be a viable project you need to find a tablet under $100 dollars. Remember you will have to come up with the appropriate cable for your tablet to your printer. So finding good specs on the tablet is a must. One of the dual core or better Atoms is a likely candidate. It  should have at least 1GB main memory. I know that Repetier fails to work on some Intel video chipsets. My E-Machine (N270 Atom) netbook would not show in Repetier. Cura seems towork just fine.

If you have a tablet lying around then I would give it a try on your 3D printer!

And just try to resist playing a game or Netflix on your 3D Printer!

Richard