Minecraft on an Android tablet for $200-ish... Can it be done?
June 20, 2016 7:31 PM   Subscribe

My seven year old has saved an amazing $200. He'd like to get his own Android tablet that can handle Minecraft PE. Can this be done? Currently he uses my wife's iPad 2. But the lag is driving him nuts. Would a tablet in his price range be any better?
posted by DirtyOldTown to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't used it personally, but if I were to buy a tablet in the $200 range I would look at what The Wirecutter had to say about the Nvidia Shield K1, which is around $200.
posted by ambirex at 7:44 PM on June 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

A basic Kindle Fire is about $49 now, and from what I can tell, it runs Mincecraft CE well. If you do a search here through the app store at Amazon for "kindle fire," you'll see a whole lot of 5 star reviews for Minecraft CE. Other versions of Kindle are here, and many are under $200. Although I prefer other android tablets, we do have a few (yes a few) of the Kindle Fires in our house, and they are pretty solid machines, especially for younger persons (you can put parental controls on them, set it up in a more "kid friendly" online environment, etc.)
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:47 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

The $49 price tag is tempting. But he had a Fire tablet of an older variety and it was temperamental and it turned him off. Also, he likes the broader selection of iPad and standard Android games.

He downloads a ton of crap, fwiw.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:52 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have 2 Samsung tablets. 8 GB . Which is not enough memory but minecraft PE runs well.
posted by Ftsqg at 8:12 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

My son had the HP Slate tablet, which comes with an NVidia Tegra GPU. It works really well for video games (my son dropped it, and he also cracked the charge port).

If you can find one used it should meet your budget and also play Minecraft.
posted by My Dad at 9:19 PM on June 20, 2016

I would totes get a Shield.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:20 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you have a TV with HDMI, keyboard, and mouse your kid can Minecraft on a Raspberry Pi for $35, plus a few more bucks for a case, USB power supply and MicroSD card (16-32GB is fine, the bigger ones can run hot).
posted by b1tr0t at 9:24 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd get a shield or a nexus 9

A used nexus 9 could be even cheaper than that, and the bigger screen would likely be awesomer for gaming.

An original shield, with the controller built in, could be interesting/awesome too... But they cost more than they should used most of the time.
posted by emptythought at 10:32 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have an nVidia Shield K1 (bought recently to replace my aging 1st gen Nexus 7) and it's a wonderful device; I highly recommend it, even if it is at the top end of your budget.

That said, I just loaded up Minecraft PE on it to give it a try and while it was quite responsive for the most part, there were definitely points where the game would pause for a second when moving or looking around. There was a setting to disable "Fancy Graphics" which improved its responsiveness, but didn't completely eliminate pauses. I'm not sure how bad the lag is on your iPad 2, and I don't know if trying it on the Shield while plugged in or after a fresh reboot would've changed my experience, but I can't guarantee the Shield will be the magic bullet for your case either. This is purely based on my own experience playing with it for a few minutes though, so take that for what you will.
posted by Aleyn at 12:20 AM on June 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Another vote for the Nvidia shield, I think it's the best you can do for an android gaming tablet for $200
posted by mattholomew at 5:58 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

We recently got a Shield for my seven-year-old (based on the Wirecutter review linked above) and she's very happy with it. Haven't tested Minecraft specifically, but in general it seems pretty solid.
posted by nickmark at 7:41 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Since he is using an iPad now, would he be interested in a refurbished iPad Air for $279?
posted by misterbrandt at 7:52 AM on June 21, 2016

The Pi specific version of Minecraft that was released for the older RPi is very out of date & not compatible with the PE releases. You could probably run the PC Java version on the current Pi, but I don’t know how fast it will be.
posted by pharm at 8:06 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks everybody! We ordered the NVidia Shield K1. I'll let you know how it goes over. I think he would have liked to have had a 10", but this one was more powerful than the 10" options in this price range, and I think that's more important, really. Also, the expandable microSD slot was a big thing.

I'm very curious if we'll be able to use our old Ouya bluetooth gamer controllers in the way the one specific to this model works.

Anyway, thanks again and we will report back.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:33 AM on June 22, 2016

I'm very curious if we'll be able to use our old Ouya bluetooth gamer controllers in the way the one specific to this model works.


I have yet to find anything that controller doesn't work with. Other tablets, windows/mac computers running emulators, etc. It was made to be a "generic controller", not some silly thing like the playstation/etc controllers that need proprietary driver bs to work. My ouya is long gone, but one of the controllers(and the amazon fire controller!) live on as my universal wireless-game-thingy controllers to be used with anything i plug in to my screens.
posted by emptythought at 10:01 AM on June 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

We got him an Nvidia Shield and he's deliriously happy with it. Thanks, everyone!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:03 PM on June 30, 2016

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