Another year has come and gone… and people are still trying to figure out how to install the Google Play Store on Amazon Fire tablets.
But Fire tablet hacks weren’t the only things people were interested in while stuck at home during a global pandemic. Other popular articles this year include news about single-board computers (including one with a Ryzen Embedded processor), a cheap alternative to Fitbit’s pricy activity trackers, a couple of mini-desktop reviews, and an explainer that covers the difference between the Thunderbolt 4, USB 4, Thunderbolt 3, and USB 3 standards.
2020 was also the year I launched a new spin-off website, LinuxSmartphones, which is tracing the progress of an exciting new niche at the intersection of mobile devices and free and open source software and hardware development. Part of the impetus was that I noticed some articles about Linux phones and smartphone operating systems managed to get a lot of page views, including one which made its way into this list of the year’s most popular posts.
One thing to keep in mind is that the articles listed below were the top posts by page views… which is something that’s largely beyond my control. I try to find topics that will be interesting to my audience, but sometimes Google will drive a lot of traffic by showing the articles in the Discovery feeds of people who don’t normally visit this site. And sometimes a post will get a lot of referral traffic from social media, reddit, Hacker News, or other sources.
But it’s a lot easier to compile a list of posts with the highest page views than it is for me to look back at several thousand articles published this year in order to find the ones I put the most work into. So I’m glad that a few reviews made the list (they typically take the most time to create, but often don’t bring in a lot of page views). But I’m sure there’s some stuff that regular readers may have found interesting which didn’t make it into this post. If you have a favorite, feel free to leave a link in the comments.
Now, here are some of the most read Liliputing articles from 2020:
- How to install Google Play on the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)
There are a bunch of steps to follow, but overall it’s actually pretty easy to do.
- How to install Google Play on the Amazon Fire HD 10 (9th-gen)
These two guides are largely interchangeable. I decided to focus on a different method here, but both will work.
- I replaced my Fitbit with a $35 Mi Band (mini-review)
Back in January, before I realized how little walking outdoors I would be doing, I replaced my old Fitbit with an inexpensive activity tracker from Xiaomi. I’ve probably charged the battery around 12-15 times since then.
- This Raspberry Pi-sized computer is powered by an AMD Ryzen Embedded chip
Raspberry Pi-sized single board computers are cool. Ryzen processors are cool. Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of devices that combine the two. This was one of the first.
- This $10 single-board computer is faster than a Raspberry Pi 3
This SBC also looks like a Raspberry Pi, but it’s got a faster processor and a lower price tag. Currently out of stock, at the time this article was first published, you could pick one up for just $10.
- Intel Frost Canyon NUC 10 review (with Intel Core i7-10710U Comet Lake)
Need something a little bigger, a lot more powerful, and don’t mind paying a lot more money? Intel’s Frost Canyon NUC with a 6-core Intel Core i7-10710U processor packs a lot of punch for a computer 4.6″ x 4.2″ x 2″. But the even more powerful Panther Canyon NUC may be on the way soon.
- Asus PN50 is a mini PC with up to an AMD Ryzen 7 4800U processor
Remember how I said people like Ryzen chips? This is basically what you’d get if you stuffed a Ryzen laptop processor into an Intel NUC-sized case.
- Chuwi LarkBox 2.4 inch mini PC review
One of the strangest trends I saw this year was the emergence of 2.4″ x 2.4″ x 1.7″ mini-desktop computers with Intel Gemini Lake processors. Chuwi was the first to launch one, and Liliputing published one of the first English language reviews. A few months later we also reviewed the similar GMK NucBox.
- Differences between Thunderbolt 4, USB 4, Thunderbolt 3, and USB 3
In a nutshell, all Thunderbolt 4 ports are USB 4 ports… but not al USB 4 ports are Thunderbolt 4. Check out this article and scroll down to the comparison table for more details.
- Mobian is a Linux-based smartphone OS based on Debian
It joins a growing list of GNU/Linux distributions for smartphones like the PinePhone. This article was published in July when the operating system was still in its infancy, but I took a more recent build for a test drive on my PinePhone and wrote about it this month at LinuxSmartphones.com.
- Crowdfunded NexDock 2 laptop dock for smartphones (or Raspberry Pis) ships to backers
A few years ago NexDock was one of several companies promising accessories that could turn your smartphone into a laptop. Now there’s less competition in this space, but I can’t help but wonder if the growing (but still tiny) Linux phone space could create a bit more demand for this sort of laptop dock.
- Jailbreak for Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (current-gen)
It’s not just Amazon’s tablets that are hackable. You can tweak features and even install alternate eBook readers (for reading EPUB files, among other things) on the company’s Kindle devices. Despite being only a few weeks old, this article was viewed tens of thousands of times, earning it a spot on this list.
- Color eReaders unveiled in China
Speaking of eReaders, models with color E Ink displays finally arrived this year. Launched first in China, several models including the Onyx BOOX Poke 2 Color and the PocketBook Color are now available for purchase in the United States, although early reviews are mixed.
- GPD Win 3 handheld gaming PC has a sliding display, QWERTY keyboard, and Intel Tiger Lake
The next portable gaming computer from GPD drops the clamshell laptop design and instead borrows the look and feel of Sony’s old Vaio UX UMPCs. At first glance it looks like a Nintendo Switch, but the screen slides up to reveal a capacitive touch keyboard that should be good enough for entering usernames and passwords, but which might be awkward for much more than that. It’s expected to go up for pre-order for $799 and up through a crowdfunding campaign that will begin in early 2021.