I’ve recently gotten a reborn love for my tablet, and I am actually thinking of getting a couple of cheaper models for my kids (so they will stop borrowing mine!).
I’m going to put together a list of what I think are the tablets with the most bang for your buck in a couple of categories. I will be using newegg for links, price comperison, specs and info. Obviously you will want to shop around and do your own research first, and not just take my word on any of this—especially since the tech market is volatile and things get outdated very quickly.
Apple iPads are nice and all, but I am not including them in my comparison simply because I won’t buy one. Windows 8 tablets aren’t out yet, but I prefer to stick to Android in any case.
10” Tablets up-to $350
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer
This tablet is still a good option even though it has an older processor (tegra2) and only 1GB of DDR2. With a $339 price tag it is still a good contendor, and has the option for the dock so it can “transform” into a netbook. This Moto Xoom has about the same specs (2x internal memory), but with a higher price tag. This is my favorite for this category and price range.
Le Pan II Tablet PC Qualcomm APQ8060
Wow, this tablet weighs in at $260, making it the cheapest of the bunch—by a pretty good margin! Under the hood you will find the fastest CPU of this bunch at 1.2GHz, and it also uses a Qualcomm APQ8060 processor instead of a Tegra 2. At this price point, you are bound to sacrifice something, and it looks like you get 8GB flash memory instead of 16, and a smaller resolution (1024x768), and less battery life (7 hrs). This is a very good option if you’re willing to accept the trade-offs for the price—seems like a good deal to me!
Acer Iconia Tab A200-10g16u
This Acer is similar to the A500 that I have, and almost exactly the same specs as the above ASUS. at $10 more, it is still a good option.
SONY Tablet S SGPT111US/S
With a slightly smaller screen at 9.4”, Sony apparently has a tablet in the same spec category as the above items. I have not seen one of these myself, but it seems like a viable option.
Lenovo ThinkPad 1830 (183822U)
Lenovo makes a pretty decent tablet, and this one is in the same price range at $350.
LAVA-Tech QPad C-1010111
Similar to the Le Pan above, but has a few more trade-offs—which could be expected at $220. 1024x600 resolution, and a measly 0.3MP front camera make this not a great option, but if the budget is tight then it is worth a look.
In this category, it’s a wash and will come down to aesthetics and user preference. All of the specs are about the same, and the only thing that would sway me one way or another would be the existence of a standard USB port along with the micro HDMI, or the inclusion of ICS (though most of these are upgradable to ICS even if they come with honeycomb). If you want a Tegra 3 (or newer) processor, you’ll have to step up the pricing > $350.
I think I would go with the Asus or Le Pan, personally. The price on the Le Pan is just so tempting!
7” Tablets < = $130 (plus a Galaxy Tab and a lenovo)
SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)
Samsung makes a nice tablet in their Galaxy line, and this is true in the 10” category as well…they just tend to be pricey. This 7” model is $250, and it’s really quality but I’m cheap so it won’t be the queen of this 7” ball.
lenovo IdeaPad A1 (22282EU)
This Lenovo tablet isn’t too far behind the Samsung in price. A nice tablet with a TI OMAP cortex A8 CPU, decent resolution, 16GB SSD. The downside that I see is it is running Gingerbread Android 2.3, and the price, obviously.
This tablet runs on an ARM iMAP CPU @ 1GHz, with 512MB memory, 4GB flash, AND comes with ICS. The resolution isn’t the highest in this category at 800x480, but it is definitely decent for a 7-incher. There is also a memory card slot, HDMI, and webcam which are all pretty standard. Not bad for $130.
Another tablet right at $130. This one has an ARM Cortex A8 CPU @ 1GHz, with 512MB memory and 8GB flash. It also has 800x480 resolution, and the standard mini HDMI, mini USB, and micro SD card slots. 2MP webcam as well, and states that the battery lasts up to 5 hrs of web browsing. It coems with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but it can be upgraded to 4.0 ICS from a download on the company’s website.
Maylong M-285 Mobility
I’m not a huge fan of Maylong from the reviews that I have seen from their products, but the stats on this guy stand up to the rest in this category. No reviews on newegg so I am not sure how it actually performs. The Maylong comes with Android 4.0 ICS, a Cortex A* ARM CPU @ 1GHz, 800x480 resolution, 4GB flash, 512MB RAM, the wifis, mini usb, sd card slot, etc. It does look to be lacking an HDMI port.
WAN 7” tablet PC with capacitive touch
This WAN tablet has some impressive specs, especially at $127. Android 4.0 ICS, ARM cortex A8 at 1.2GHz. 800x480 (which is a bit weak), 8GB flash hard drive, 512 MB memory, and an sd card slot. This one has an HDMI port and a miscellaneous webcam.
Archos Arnova 7 G2
Archos has been making tablets for a long time, and they have always ranged from so-so to decent. This one in particular comes with Android 2.3 (gingerbread), and has a resolution of 800x480, 4GB flash, mini USB, and 1GHz CPU. It looks like it is missing HDMI out, GPS, and a webcam.
Refurb: Pandigital R80B400 Supernova media tablet 8”
This is a refub, but the the specs look alright, and the price is definitely there. Also, this is an 8-incher.
It comes with Android 2.3 (gingerbread), 800x600 resolution, 4GB flash, 512MB RAM, mini USB, micro HDMI, microsd card reader (up to 32GB), and a Samsung S5PV210 CPU (probably 1.2GHz). This model got bad reviews on Amazon, I won’t recommend it. There is also a 7” refurb model at $70.
Refurb: DELL Streak 7
This DELL refurb runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb and has a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra2 CPU, Corning Gorilla Glass, 800x480 resolution, 16GB flash, 512MB memory, SD card slot, dual webcams. All that for $150. Not too shabby.
The $130 price point is where it is at with 7”, as far as I am concerned anyway. There are also some “open box” options for some of these, which means you can grab one at a little better price. As you can see, there are MANY viable options in this category, so do some research and preferably try a few out before you make a decision. Feel free to leave any inputs in the comments (or where ever). Also, when I am ready to make my purchase(s) I will update this article with which ones I wind up choosing.
So as you know, I’m cheap so I like getting a lot of bang for my buck. The 7” category is obviously where I am focused at the moment, but I listed the 10-inchers just for comparison and reference mostly.
If I was buying a tablet for myself, I would probably go with a 10-12” model. And I would probably look for ones that come wiith 4G prepaid capability (not contract, I’m not about that on a tablet). Although with tethering ability on my cell phone I would skip that and go wifi only.
Like I said, these days there are lots of options at a lot of different price points. There are cheaper and more expensive options than what I have listed here, and some better or worse options—I’ve tried to list middle of the road sticking to my “bang for the buck” mantra, especially since I will be getting a tablet or two for my little kids soon.
update: a lot of new computers/laptops, tablets, and other hardware are coming out this summer which will drive prices down on previous model stuff, it would be wise to wait until late summer for a purchase, IMO