When Liliputing started in 2008, it was basically a blog about netbooks. The mobile tech space has changed quite a bit in the last few years with the introduction of mobile tablets, ultrabooks and Chromebooks and the growth of the smartphone space.
A look back at some of the most popular headlines from 2013 underscores the point — and also confirms my believe that many of you share my interest in getting the most out of affordable portable technology, even if that means hacking a device to things the manufacturer may not have intended.
Here are some of the Liliputing articles that grabbed the most attention in the past year.
Google’s open source operating system for phones and tablets has come a long way in the past few years, and it now dominates the smartphone space. But Android isn’t just for phones these days…
- Android 4.3 ported to x86, runs on desktop, laptop computers
Some folks spend their time trying to figure out how to get Ubuntu or other desktop operating systems running on Android devices. Others try to figure out how to get Android to run on a a desktop.
- Android gets cheaper: Meet the $100 quad-core phone, $59 dual-core tablet
2013 was the year when manufacturers started offering decent carrier unlocked smartphones that didn’t cost $500 or more. While the $179 Motorola Moto G might be one of the most noteworthy, this article from June about cheap Chinese devices actually grabbed more page views than any single post about the Moto G.
Android/Linux TV boxes
Last year the first manufacturers realized they could take the guts of a cheap smartphone and make an even cheaper box that lets you run Android apps on your TV screen. It didn’t take long for users to realize they could port Ubuntu and other Linux distros to run on these boxes, creating tiny desktop computers that sell for under $100.
- G-Box Midnight MX2 TV dual-core box is made for Android, XBMC
Running Android apps on your TV is great if all you want to do is stream Netflix video, surf the web, or play Angry Birds. But if you’re looking for software that’s really meant for your TV screen, it doesn’t get much better than XBMC. The G-Box Midnight MX2 isn’t the only Android device that can run XBMC, but it’s one of the few that was really designed with the software in mind.
- Tronsmart MK908 quad-core Android TV stick performance (video)
By the end of 2013, practically every Android TV stick or TV box has a Rockchip RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor. But earlier in the year when the MK908 came out, it was one of the first — and it marked a big leap in performance over earlier devices of this type.
- PicUntu brings light-weight Linux to RK3066 mini PCs (MK808, UG802, etc)
Want to turn your TV stick into a full-fledged desktop computer? There’s a Linux distro for that.
HP’s first and only webOS tablet was released in the summer of 2011 and canceled less than two months after launch. While webOS didn’t prove to be a runaway success story for the company, the HP TouchPad tablet featured pretty great hardware, including a 9.7 inch display, a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and the ability to run Android — if you hacked the tablet to install it yourself.
Users have been doing that since 2011, and for the past few years some of the most popular Liliputing articles have been related to the TouchPad. In fact, the most read article this year by far was written in 2012 (and updated a few times since). It’s our tutorial for installing Android on the HP TouchPad.
Here are a few more recent articles that also got a lot of page views this year.
- HP TouchPad gets unofficial Android 4.2 update with working Bluetooth
Every now and again a new build of Android for the TouchPad is released… and often updates break features that had been working in earlier builds. A lot of folks were pleased to see the return of Bluetooth to the TouchPad this summer.
- CyanogenMod 10.2 nightlies arrive, along with updated gApps, ClockworkMod Recovery builds
Members of the CyanogenMod team were among the first to port Android to run on HP’s tablet, and this summer they started releasing nightly builds of CyanogenMod 10.2 based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
Here are a few more of the year’s most popular articles.
- Asus Transformer Book T100 review: Rebirth of the affordable portable PC
The Asus Transfromer Book T100 is a 10 inch Windows 8.1 tablet with an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor and a keyboard dock that lets you use the machine like a notebook. It sells for less than $400 and feels like a cross between a modern tablet and an old-school netbook… if old-school netbooks had all-day battery life and acceptable performance for most day-to-day computing tasks. It was probably my favorite device of all the products I reviewed in 2013. It’s also Amazon’s best-selling laptops from the 2013 holiday season, so apparently I’m not the only person who likes it.
- Google kills support for streaming local videos to Chromecast (kinda… for now)
Google released a $35 device designed to let you stream internet content to a TV this year. It’s small, cheap and easy to use, and every few months it gets more useful as additional third-party apps add support. It works with Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Google Play Movies YouTube, and other streaming media services. But shortly after it was released some independent developers figured out how to let users stream content straight from their phones to their TVs using a Chromecast… but they did that using unofficial tools which broke when Google updated the official software developer kit. These days you can achieve something similar using Plex or a few other services… but full support for streaming content straight from your phone or tablet to your TV without going through a third-party web server still isn’t available… at least not yet.
What are some of your most memorable mobile tech moments from 2013?