How to repurpose your old iPad

Getting a new iPad? Before you sell the outdated one, consider these options for repurposing it. Turns out you can teach an old tablet new tricks.

With an app like Photo Slideshow Director HD Pro (or the built-in Picture Mode), you can turn your iPad into a terrific digital photo frame.
With an app like Photo Slideshow Director HD Pro (or the built-in Picture Mode), you can turn your iPad into a terrific digital photo frame. Socusoft Co. Ltd.

It's no big secret that Apple will take the wraps off a couple of new iPads tomorrow , most likely an updated full-size model and perhaps a Retina Display-enhanced iPad Mini .

If you're planning to buy one of them, you may find yourself pondering what to do with your current iPad. Sure, you can make back a few bucks by selling it on Craigslist or eBay, but maybe it would make more sense to hang onto it. After all, an iPad can do some pretty cool stuff when you dedicate it to a specific task or set of tasks.

Here are my picks for how to extend the life of your old iPad:

1. Full-time photo frame

The digital photo frames of yesteryear were small, low-resolution, and a pain in the neck. But your iPad can deliver the ultimate photo frame experience, showing hundreds or even thousands of photos in a never-ending slideshow.

You can see this in action via the iPad's built-in Picture Frame mode , which instantly creates a slideshow using photos from your albums, Camera Roll, Photo Stream, or a combination.

But there are also apps that offer more options, like Photo Slideshow Director HD Pro, which can add music to your slideshows and lets you choose from dozens of transitions. Trust me: if you haven't tried a really good digital photo frame, you're missing out.

2. Dedicated music server

iTunes Radio for iPad
iTunes Radio for iPad Apple

You may not think of your iPad as a music machine, as that big screen would seem to lend itself more to books, movies, games, and the like. But let's not forget it's an iOS device, and therefore capable of providing infinite music options.

Your own library, yes, but also iTunes Radio, Pandora, Slacker, Songza, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, and lots of other great music apps.

Just pair your iPad with an AirPlay or Bluetooth speaker, then tap to queue up some tunes. And if you leave it on a side table sitting in a stand, you can probably enjoy some nice cover art while you listen.

3. Dedicated e-book and magazine reader

Kindle for iPad
Kindle for iPad Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

For hard-core readers, it's hard to beat an iPad. It gives you access to just about every e-book reading app (and ecosystem) under the sun, from Kindle to Kobo to Nook to iBooks. Stock your old iPad with books and keep it at your bedside for an endless supply of nighttime reading.

And don't forget magazines. The iPad Mini feels a little small for them, especially with its non-Retina Display screen, but a full-size iPad works great. You can buy individual issues of a lot of popular mags, but be sure to also check out digital-magazine services like AnyTime , Next Issue , and Zinio .

In fact, it turns out you may be able to read Zinio mags on your iPad absolutely free , courtesy of your local library.

4. Kitchen helper

iPads and cooking go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or maybe that should be olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Either way, an iPad makes a great kitchen companion -- not just for searching and viewing recipes, but also for watching demonstration videos (like this one for a simple oven-baked chicken parmesan, a favorite in my house).

In fact, you could install an under-cabinet tablet mount and keep your iPad at eye level, at the same time protecting it against cooking splatter. (These disposable wrappers are good for that, too.)

And don't forget all the great cooking apps, like How to Cook Everything , Butterball Cookbook Plus (essential this time of year), and the ever-popular Epicurious .

5. Secondary monitor

An app like Air Display can turn your iPad into a second monitor.
An app like Air Display can turn your iPad into a second monitor. Avatron Software

A dual-monitor setup can be a huge boon to your productivity, but if you work with a laptop, it's not exactly convenient to schlep an extra LCD everywhere you go.

Ah, but guess what? Your iPad can pull monitor duty. Just install an app like Air Display (which now works with Windows machines as well as Macs) or MaxiVista , then use the tablet as a second screen alongside your PC. Put your mail client in there, or a stock ticker, or anything else you like to refer to throughout the day.

Once you try this setup, you may wonder how you ever got along without it.

Okay, those are my picks for repurposing an iPad. Let's hear yours! Or tell me if you think the smarter move is to sell it for cash.

 

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