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The 5 BEST Budget Tablets: Because You Don't HAVE To Buy An iPad

Know Your Mobile logo Know Your Mobile 07-12-2015 Michael Grothaus

Tablets are great. We think most people who've tried one (at least a half decent one) at some point can probably agree on that. However, they're big devices with big displays, which means all too often they're very expensive. Apple is currently stumbling over a block with tablets that perhaps couldn't have been predicted; the rate of replacement for most consumers is MUCH slower than with smartphones, and more akin to traditional desktop and laptop devices. In other words, people buy one, and then wait several years to replace it rather than every generation, or even every other generation. But there hasn't been much of an alternative to going for something pricey, being choosy, and holding onto it for a while - for a long time "budget tablet" has been a bit of a dirty word, conjuring up images of horrificly slow, bloatware-addled plastic blobs from no-name manufacturers, sold in dodgy second-hand electronics shops and supermarkets. That's changed more recently, however, with devices such as the Tesco Hudl, Nexus 7, and Amazon's Fire series.

You have A LOT of choice in the tablet space too. But the segment itself isn't quite as healthy as it once was. The overall trajectory of the tablet market has not changed significantly over the past year and a half, but the 2-in-1 segment, also referred to as detachables, is starting to gain traction. While the 2-in-1 form factor is not new, OEMs are getting more serious about this market and as a result IDC expects the 2-in-1 segment to grow 86.5% year over year in 2015 with 14.7 million units shipped. Although this volume is far below that of the more affordable slate tablet segment, IDC believes these devices appeal to an audience seeking an alternative to pure tablets with smaller screens.

"In the past, the biggest challenges with 2-in-1 devices were high price points, less than appealing designs, and, quite frankly, lack of demand for Windows 8, which was the OS most devices were running," said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "With more OEMs offering devices in this segment, prices have started to come down significantly. We estimate that over 40 different vendors shipped 2-in-1 products in the second quarter of 2015, which is up from just 14 vendors two years ago. With the launch of Windows 10, the introduction of more Android-based products, and the possibility that Apple will unveil a larger, screen-detachable iPad, this is the space to watch."

There are actually a lot of great tablets out there now for £200 or less. These tablets aren’t going to be anything as powerful as the iPad Pro or the Microsoft Surface or the Sony Xperia Z2, but again, if you’re just looking for a tablet to download apps and games, browse the web, and send emails you don’t need the top of the line. So which sub-£200 tablets are the best? Read on (and don’t look for an iPads on the list–the cheapest iPad mini costs £219).

1. Amazon Fire (£49)

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The cheapest tablet on this list is the new Amazon Fire. It’s crazy to think that a tablet is only £49, but there it is. For that £49 you get a 7-inch display with 1024x600 resolution at 171 ppi. Yeah, that’s not outstanding, but if you are just looking for a solid tablet for web browsing an email, it’ll do – and you really can’t beat £50, I mean, that’s like two weeks worth of coffee at Starbucks. The storage is limited to 8GB, but with the microSD card slot you can boost that by another 128 on the cheap. It’s also got a front camera for video conferencing and a rear camera that shoots 720p HD video.

2. Tesco Hudl 2 (£99)

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If you never thought you’d ever be buying a supermarket-made tablet, think again. For it’s price Tesco’s Hudl 2 is a great device. It comes in eight color options and features an HD 8.3-inch display with 1920 x 1200 resolution at 273 ppi. It’s got 2GB of RAM inside as well as a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Quad Core processor. The Hudl 2 features 16GB of storage, but you can expand that up to 128GB via the microSD card slot. Overall, for the cost and build quality, the Hudl 2 is a great tablet for light productivity and web browsing, or if you’re looking for something for the kids. But you might want to act fast if you’re thinking of getting a Hudl 2. Tesco has announced it will stop selling them at their stores. They haven’t given a reason why, but the company is going through a lot of restructuring, so grab one while you can.

3. Amazon Fire HD 10 (£169)

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This is the second Amazon tablet on the list and it make this list because it’s a 10-inch tablet for less than 200 quid. The Fire HD 10 features a 10-inch display with 1280x800 resolution at 149 ppi. It’s got a respectable quad core processor that’s more than enough for emails, photo editing, and internet browsing. For £169 you get 16GB storage, but again thanks to the microSD card slot you can boost that by another 128 on the cheap. On the camera side of things you have a front HD camera and a rear 5MP camera that shoots 1080p video.

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 (£199)

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 has been around since 2014, but it’s still a great low cost tablet. As the name suggests, it’s got a 10.1-inch display with 1280x800 resolution. Inside you’ll find a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 quad core processor with 1.5GB of RAM. It comes with 16GB of storage that is expandable by another 64GB via its microSDXC card slot. The camera department does leave something to be desired, however. It’s only got a 1.3MP front camera and a 3.15MP rear camera. However, if you’re looking for a 10-inch Android tablet under £200 that isn’t an Amazon one, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 is a good choice.

5. Google Nexus 9 (£199)

© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited

If you’re looking for something a little more powerful than all of the above, the Google Nexus 9 should be given some serious consideration. At £199 it just barely comes in below 200 quid and it’s the most pricey on this list, but it’s also the most versatile. The Nexus 9 is designed by Google and made by HTC and features a 8.9-inch display with 2048 x 1536 resolution at 281 ppi. It has 16GB of storage, but unlike all the others on this list, the storage can’t be expanded it has no microSD card slot. What it does have is 2GB of RAM and a 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor at 2.3 GHz. The Nexus 9 also has a decent 1.6MP front camera and 8MP rear camera that can shoot 720p and 1080p video, respectively. The Nexus 9 also runs Android 6.0. 

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