How To Repurpose An Old Amazon Fire Tablet Into A Smart Hub For Your Home

With e-waste becoming a large concern, it can be difficult to know what to do with old tech. Recycling is always an option, but an even better one is finding new uses for old devices. With Fire Tablets being cheap and ubiquitous, there's a good chance you've got an old one in a junk drawer somewhere. Instead of tossing it out, you can give it new life.

Perhaps you have a number of smart devices in your home, but no singular place from which to control them. That's where an old Fire Tablet can help. You can build a smart home hub with the old tablet and a little setup. The software you need is built right into the Fire Tablet, so there's no need to download additional apps, either.

Anything that works with Amazon's Alexa ecosystem is fair game. Lights, thermostats, you name it. However, if you have devices that aren't compatible with Alexa (such as Google's Nest product line), you may be out of luck unless the device's manufacturer makes its native app available through Amazon's Appstore. 

Turn your Fire Tablet into an Echo Show

In 2018, Amazon released a free update for its 8 and 10-inch Fire Tablets with a feature called Show Mode. This feature allows your Fire Tablet to channel Optimus Prime and transform into an Echo Show, Amazon's Alexa-enabled smart display. While Amazon does sell a dock for Show Mode, it's not required for the feature. You can stick your old Fire Tablet on a table or mount it to a wall, turn on Show Mode, and you've basically got a full-featured Echo Show to control your smart devices.

Like an Echo Show, this feature is operated primarily by voice commands. While some touch interaction is possible, your options may be limited depending on the device you're controlling. 

This feature isn't available on Fire Tablets smaller than 8 inches, and it's also only compatible with devices from 2017, 7th generation, or newer. If you've got a 7-inch tablet, one of the oft-forgotten 6-inch offerings Amazon made in 2014, or an older model, you're out of luck for this option. 

Set up Device Dashboard

Many Fire Tablets have a newer feature called Device Dashboard, which launched in 2020. Instead of a voice-controlled setup like Show Mode, it's a full-featured device control hub. Anything that works with Alexa can be set up and controlled right from the tablet. This also works well when set up on a table or even mounted to a wall as it lets you control your smart home without talking to Alexa (though you can still do that if you want to).

This more or less gives you the same settings you'd see in the Alexa app on your phone, so you have more control and options than you would with Show Mode, which simplifies its interface for voice control. For certain settings, you may still need to turn to your device's dedicated app.

All of your home's devices that are connected to Alexa will show up in the Device Dashboard. Much like Show Mode, if your device doesn't support Alexa, you'll be unable to control it with the Fire Tablet. There are other limitations as well. Only devices made since 2018 — 8th generation and newer — have Device Dashboard, but unlike Show Mode, there's no limitations on tablet size, which means you can use this with the 7-inch Fire Tablet models as well.