The Best Cheap Tablets

“If saving money is wrong, I don’t want to be right!” William Shatner

If you don’t want to spend hours trawling around electronics shops looking for a good, inexpensive tablet, this guide was written with you in mind.

Top Tablets Under $100

 

All of these products have a MSRP of less than 100 dollars – note that the actual price you see in the shop may be higher. This is especially true of online stores – when stocks are low prices can spike.

You don’t expect perfection at this price range and some corners have inevitably been cut. Nevertheless, there’s value to be had even at this price point.

Here are 5 mini-reviews of the top models under 100 USD. Two are from huge brands you know, and three are from companies which may be unknown to you but whose products we at Tablet PC Comparison have come to hold in quite high regard.

In no particular order:

  1. Amazon Fire 7
  2. Chuwi Hi8
  3. RCA Viking Pro
  4. Dragon Touch M8
  5. Asus Zenpad C7

Let’s stop waffling and dive right into our recommendations. Happy shopping!

 

 

Amazon Fire 7" Tablet Review: Worth The $50?

Amazon Fire 7

The Amazon Fire 7 is an excellent buy for the casual user, especially if you’re an Amazon Prime member.  The OS (currently OS 5 Bellini) is built specifically for playing all the games, music, movies, and TV shows that come with the Prime subscription.  This makes the Amazon Fire 7 one of the better options under $100 if you’re a Prime subscriber.

If you aren’t, it’s still a decent device.

The plastic case feels rather cheap—if you squeeze it the panels compress a little.  Its thickness in this current day of slim tablets makes it look antiquated.  It’s heavy enough to not feel flimsy, however.

Instead of downloading Android apps from the Google Play store, you’ll be getting your apps from the Amazon app store.  The Amazon app store has a lot of the popular games, but new overnight hits in the Google Play store won’t be available.

It takes a few seconds to load anything—games, movies, etc., but the Fire 7 isn’t as slow as you would think.  The performance is decent considering its specs (quad core 1.3 GHz with 1GB of RAM).  You’ll want to run only a few apps at a time, though, if you don’t want its system slowing down.  Gameplay is generally smooth, although you’ll probably get some stuttering.

The screen resolution is 1024 x 600—not high-definition.  The screen is also not the durable Gorilla Glass found in Fire HD tablets.

It has a battery life of 7 hours.

Pros 

  • Value for money
  • User-friendly OS
  • microSD card slot up to 128GB
  • Amazon Prime subscribers get free games, movies, and TV shows

Cons 

  • Cheap design
  • Sluggish performance with many apps open
  • Low-res display
  • Slow touchscreen
  • Slow performance and FPS drops for large games

<<Check the latest price on Amazon>>

 

Chuwi Hi8

The Chuwi Hi8 is pretty similar to the Vi8 Ultimate, differing only by its shiny new screen (more below).  It’s a decent tablet for its price.

The screen is one of its strongest points.  It’s a very bright 350 cd/m2, making it a shining star among its fellow 8” tablets on the market.  It has a 1920 x 1200 resolution, and a PPI (pixels per inch) of 283, which is actually higher than the iPad Air’s 264.  Everything is crisp and beautiful on this high-definition screen, making it one of the most attractive displays you can get for less than $100.

It does pretty well on performance, too.  It boots Windows up quickly, apps load fast, and opening folders is as smooth as silk.

The Chuwi Hi8 has 2GB of RAM and a Cherry Trail Z8300 64 bit Quad Core running at 1.44 GHz.  It can stream demanding games like Grand Theft Auto V without stuttering.

Note, however, that it does have to work much harder to render games on its 1920 x 1200 resolution, compared to its 8” counterparts that only render on 1280 x 800.  This means you’ll get some noticeable slowdown if you play on its native resolution.  You can lower the resolution to get an FPS boost when playing.  Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends were quite playable with a lower resolution.

The space is rather limited as is to be expected with a 32GB dual-boot device.  Windows has just 10GB of free storage.

The Android ROM for the Chuwi Hi8 is pretty fast, as well as its launcher.  You get 6.67GB worth of free space on its internal storage.

The battery life is only around 4 hours and 19 minutes with 40% brightness and medium to light use, roughly 13% less than the Vi8 Ultimate.  This is of course the cost of having that bright crisp display running.

Pros

  • Dual-boot (Windows and Android)
  • Extreme high definition
  • Responsive to touch
  • Can run large games without any issues

Cons

  • Slow eMMC drive (slow install and loading times for large apps)
  • Limited space
  • Sluggish performance with many apps open

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

<< Check the price on GearBest (can be cheaper; slower delivery) >>

 

RCA Viking Pro

The RCA Viking Pro is a 2-in-1 hybrid, coming with a removable keyboard.  It’s easy to detach the keyboard as it’s connected via magnets.  The keyboard is actually quite good—good enough that you’ll use it instead of the virtual screen keyboard.  It’s tiny, yet has 17 shortcut keys.

It comes with 24GB free storage, with more possible if you delete some of the bloatware.

The performance is pretty good for the price.  Apps will generally run smoothly on its 1GB of RAM and quad-core MT8127 processor running at 1.3 GHz.  However, you don’t want to run several apps at once as this will slow it down.

The slate’s frame and keyboard are both made from hard plastic that feels a bit cheap.  It doesn’t retain fingerprints, though, which is a good thing.

You get a nice big 10.1” screen for the price.  The resolution, though, is a low 1280 x 800.  Not great, but it’s fine for watching movies on HD.

The battery life is okay—it has about 6 hours’ worth.  It takes 3 hours to charge back up to full.

Pros 

  • Nice keyboard
  • 10.1” screen
  • Micro-SD slot expandable to 128GB

Cons

  • Cheap plastic frame
  • Low resolution
  • Sluggish performance with many apps open

<<Check the latest price on Amazon>>

Dragon Touch M8 – 8" Android Quad Core Review

Dragon Touch M8 2016 Edition

The main selling point for the Dragon Touch M8 2016 is the new IPS display.  Unlike other tablets where the screen turns dark or washed out when you view it from the side, the M8 2016’s IPS screen shows perfect clarity and color from any angle. The screen display is set at 1280 x 800.

The performance on its quad core 1.3 GHz processor with 1GB of RAM is decent.  It can run large games without any issues at all. However, as with the previous tablets, it can’t multitask very well.  You’ll have to close down other apps before running new ones if you don’t want it to slow down.

The battery life isn’t very good.  The Dragon Touch claims 3 hours with all features enabled, but it doesn’t actually seem to last even that long.  You’ll need to carry a power bank along with the slate.

The advertised dual cameras aren’t amazing in quality, but they’re quite acceptable for the price.  Something to note here is that you may have left a protective sticker on the lens that interferes with the picture quality.  There’s a second thin plastic film fitted to the lens underneath the first protective sticker covering the camera.  You can lightly rub the camera lens to check if it feels like glass or feels a bit rubbery.  If it’s the latter, you can scratch the plastic film off.

All in all it’s a good-looking device that would work well if you want to watch YouTube videos while cooking in the kitchen, or some other use case where you have access to a power socket.

Pros

  • IPS display
  • Responsive touch screen
  • Dual camera
  • Micro-SD slot expandable to 32GB (Note: We put in a 64GB SD card and it actually worked fine.  Your mileage may vary.)

Cons

  • Low battery life
  • Sluggish performance with many apps open

<<Check the latest price on Amazon>>

 

Asus Zenpad Z170C-A1-BK 7

The Asus Zenpad 7170C-A1-BK 7 actually doesn’t look as cheap as it costs, thanks to its stylish frame.  The frame is plastic with a silver-toned border that’s just a bit elevated to let you grip it better.  The slimness (108mm), weight (265g), and slightly bigger back contribute to making it easy to hold in one hand.

It also comes with the new IPS display mentioned on the Dragon Touch.  You’ll be able to maintain the same clarity and color from any angle with this screen.  However, the brightness isn’t anything to write home about (it’s rather dull even at maximum brightness setting).  The resolution is also only 1024 x 600 (below HD), with a low 170 PPI.

With 1GB of RAM and a 1.2GHz quad core processor, the Z170C-A1-BK 7 gives an adequate performance.  It won’t crawl along too badly when you run apps and games, but neither will it fly.  Bear in mind, of course, that running multiple apps at the same time will make it crawl.

It has a battery life of 8 hours (there is, after all, relatively little to drain its battery with its low resolution and specs).

Pros

  • IPS display
  • Attractive frame
  • Dual camera
  • Micro-SD slot expandable to 64GB

Cons

  • Low resolution
  • Sluggish performance with many apps open

<<Check the latest price on Amazon>>

 

In conclusion, any of these 5 will serve you well for basic tasks like reading the news, watching videos or movies, and may even do some higher-end tasks fairly well. For really good performance you’ll have to pay a bit more, but for something simple that gets the job done with no bells and whistles, feel confident in buying one of these.

 

Top Tablets Under $200

 

There are a plethora of tablet PCs available for under 200 dollars, and you won’t be surprised to learn that some of them are quite good. But you might be slightly surprised to find that some of them are seriously good!

Power, performance, style, good battery life – these are important factors when choosing which device to buy. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best ones you can buy for less than 200 bucks.

Like with our list of tablets under 100, there are still some compromises made in the design and construction of these tablets (poor cameras, for instance) but these ones pack more of a punch than their cheaper counterparts.

The top 5 are:

  1. Lenovo Tab 2
  2. Nvidia Shield
  3. Asus Zenpad 8
  4. LG G Pad 8
  5. Samsung Galaxy Tab 4

As you can see, that’s a Who’s Who of top electronics brands.

Let’s stop waffling and dive right into our recommendations. Happy shopping!

Lenovo Tab 2 A10 10-Inch

The Lenovo Tab 2 A10 10-inch slate has an IPS display, ensuring it stays bright and vibrant from any viewing angle. The resolution of 1920 x 1200 is sharp and colorful, able to display 94% of the sRGB gamut. This is 4% higher than the average.

It’s quite speedy for browsing the net with music or video apps running in the background, thanks to its 1.5GHz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM. Swapping through apps is also quick. However, it suffers compared to its peers when it comes to gaming, with a 2,371 benchmark, lower than the category average of 2,648. It’s also slower than the average when it comes to converting videos.

The camera is surprisingly good, sharp in detail and color.

What really sets this product apart from the crowd is its extraordinarily long battery life, making it one of the best tablets under $200. It’s able to run for a whopping 12 hours of internet browsing at 150 nits of brightness before needing to recharge. This is about 4 hours longer than the average.

Pros

  • Bright screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great overall performance

Cons

  • Not very good for gaming

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

NVIDIA Shield 8-Inch

The NVIDIA Shield 8-inch has a rather gorgeous frame—its back panel covered with a lavish soft-touch black coating. The camera ring and stylus are touched with silver chrome for a nice contrast.

Sadly, at 8.8 x 5 x 0.36 inches and 13.7 ounces, the one is pretty thick and heavy compared to its competitors.

The 1920 x 1200 display is impressive, with good viewing angles and rich, sharp colors. It scores 372 lux on the brightness test, 11 lux higher than the average. However, it can only render 80% of the sRGB gamut, 10.4% below the average. The display is also hard to see under bright sunlight.

Gaming with the Nvidia Shield is quite a different experience from other models, thanks to its wireless precision controller. It’s not up to the level of the Xbox 360 controller, but it’s still excellent and superior to most controllers. The buttons are responsive and springy, and the analog sticks precise.

The controller also lets you customize controls and navigate through the tablet. If you’re yearning to play Titanfall on a tablet while trash-talking someone via headset, this is one of the best options.

With its 2.2GHz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, this loads apps smooth and fast. It also runs games like Half-Life 2 with no stutters, scoring 3,437 on the benchmark test (789 above the average).

Pros

  • Stylish design
  • Bright colorful display and great graphics
  • Great overall and gaming performance

Cons

  • Bulky frame and controller

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

ASUS Zenpad S 8.0 Z580C-B1-BK

The ASUS Zenpad S 8.0 Z580C-B1-BK is basically a cheaper Apple iPad Mini 2, making it one of the top tablet PCs under $200. It has the same crisp, colorful display when compared side by side. Its 2048 x 1536 resolution on an IPS screen delivers gorgeous graphics on its 8 –inch screen.

With its 1.33 GHz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, the Z580C-B1-BK makes browsing and streaming videos a breeze. It also delivers pretty much the same decent gaming performance that the iPad Mini 2 does.

The Z580C-B1-BK offers more storage than the iPad Mini 2, as well. It provides 32GB (double that of Apple), and additionally comes with a microSD card slot that expands to 128GB (the iPad Mini 2 doesn’t offer a microSD card slot).

Measuring 5.3 x 8 x 0.3 inches and 11.2 ounces, the Z580C-B1-BK is one of the thinnest, lightest tablets currently on the market. Its slim build makes it easy to hold and carry around in your bag, as well as giving it a sleek style that’s easy on the eyes.

Pros

  • Lightweight and thin
  • Sharp, colorful display
  • Easy to adjust the display

Cons

  • Poor camera quality
  • Poor sound quality

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

<< Buy on GearBest >>

LG G Pad 8.0 V480

What makes the LG G Pad 8.0 V480 unique and places it among the better devices under $200 is its interesting features. Notable among them is being able to run 2 apps side by side on the screen. This only works for a specific list of apps and does cause the app to slow down, but turns out to be surprisingly useful.

Another useful feature is the Knock Code, wherein you tap in a specified pattern on the screen to unlock it. It works even if the tablet is turned off.

A third one is QuickRemote, which handily lets the tablet take control of your TV and media players.

And finally, we have the Q Pair app, found only in LG products. It lets you link your tablet to your mobile phone so that you can see notifications for text messages on the larger screen.

The LG G Pad 8.0 comes with a 1.2GHz quad core processor and 1GB of RAM. As you can expect, it makes navigation a less than smooth experience if you have any apps running in the background. It will also struggle if you run demanding 3D games, but does well enough with 2D games.

Something else to consider is this device’s stellar battery life—LG promises an amazing 14 days. True enough, the 4200mAh power cell does last through several days of moderate to heavy use.

Pros

  • Some great features
  • Truly amazing battery life

Cons

  • Underpowered
  • Low res
  • Poor camera quality

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (7”)

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 measures just 7.36 x 4.25 x 0.35 inches, weighing 9.74 ounces. It’s quite compact and light, making it easy to hold in one hand or carry about in your bag.

The 1280 x 800 HD display is decent—you get generous viewing angles and faithful color reproduction.

Note that you’ll get just 4.72GB free space out of its 8GB, so you’ll want to expand that microSD up to its max of 32GB.

With a 1.2GHz quad core processor and 1.5GB of RAM, the Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 lets you browse the net, stream videos, and navigate menus quite smoothly. It’s not made for demanding games like Dead Trigger 2, though—you’ll have to stick with 2D games if you don’t want stuttering.

Samsung’s TouchWiz software features quite prominently and you’ll either love it or hate it. It takes over the device and replaces Android’s stock menus and skin with its own. One of its best additions is Multi Window, which allows splitting the display into two for running apps side by side (it does slow down somewhat when doing this).

The battery life is good for around 5.5 hours of internet surfing with screen brightness at max, which is pretty mediocre by the industry standard.

The Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 won’t top any best-of lists, but it’s a decent device worth considering.

Pros

  • Good overall performance
  • Small and lightweight

Cons

  • Poor speaker quality
  • Poor camera quality
  • Mediocre battery life

 << Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

Top Tablets Under $300

 

300 dollars can go a long way. You could buy a chill-out hammock, some incredible noise-canceling earphones, or a pointless but beautiful typewriter that connects to your computer by bluetooth. OR you could get a powerful, flexible tablet computer with great features and battery life.

In this guide to the best quality tablets at the ‘inexpensive’ end of the market we focus on these devices, which we think represent the creme de la creme:

  • Apple iPad mini 2
  • Nexus 7
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 9.7
  • Dragon Touch i10x
  • Fire HD 10

Some familiar names there, and one you might not be so aware of. Want to learn more? Read on, dear friend.

Apple iPad mini 2 ME276LL/A

The Apple iPad mini 2 ME276LL/A is basically the iPad Air compressed into a small and mighty package with nearly no compromises. It’s a beast of a machine that’s effectively one of the top devices under $300.

Its Retina display has a gorgeously crisp 2048 x 1536 resolution display that matches the iPad Air’s, with text and details sharp from all distances. For color, the reproduction accuracy isn’t as great—the colors appear rather faded in comparison with the iPad Air. Oddly, though, it’s exceedingly good at matching shades in grayscale images.

These are first-world problems – it’s only in comparison with the iPad Air that it falls short in colors. For the purposes of gaming and watching movies, it’s still a beautifully rendered display.

Its 1.29GHz A7 processor and 1GB RAM ensures a performance nearly as fast and smooth as the iPad Air (which runs on 1.39GHz and 1GB RAM). This impressively fast little slate can multitask and perform heavy lifting like video editing and graphic editing with no stutters. Gamers will also find it can run demanding games without a hitch.

The iPad mini 2’s battery life also surprisingly matches the iPad Air’s. It actually surpasses Apple’s claim of 10 hours, reaching 14.25 hours of movie-watching before needing a recharge.

Pros

  • High-resolution display
  • Fast processor
  • Improved wi-fi and LTE connectivity
  • Good battery life
  • Access to the Apple Store

Cons

  • No Touch ID fingerprint sensor (was first found in the iPad Mini 3)
  • Storage not expandable

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

Nexus 7 2013 7-Inch

The Google Nexus 7 2013 dethroned the iPad mini as the slimmest tablet below 10 inches when it came out. It’s more compact than the iPad mini and the old Nexus 7 at 7.9 x 4.5 x 0.34 inches and 10.24 ounces.

Its 1920 x 1200 IPS display is accurate in color and crisp in detail, as well as viewable from any angle. It’s also quite bright—its 531 lux display is 171 lux higher than the average.

With a 1.5GHz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, it scores a whopping 4,949 on benchmark performance (1,500 higher than the average). It also scored triple the average on graphics performance, with a score of 11,580. All this harnessed power makes this baby one of the coolest options under $300 for a gamer (or anyone who works with heavy video editing software and the like).

The Nexus 7 2013 can launch large games in about 16% of the average time for other devices, and loading screens are just that much faster as well. Within the games, the graphics look more detailed and immersive.

The battery life lasts about 8.5 hours, which is about 1.5 hours longer than the average.

Pros

  • Thin and lightweight
  • Bright, sharp display
  • Excellent overall performance
  • Excellent stereo speakers
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Storage not expandable
  • Subpar parental controls

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab A SM-T550NZAAXAR 9.7-Inch

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 has a plastic frame that feels a bit cheap, but looks sleek and stylish. The deep gray rear panel has a metallic sheen to it, and the rounded edges give it a streamlined look. At 9.5 x 6.6 x 0.3 inches and just 1 pound in weight, it’s easy to hold in one hand.

Its 1024 x 768 display is its weak point. Text can look pixelated (although still easily readable), and the 9.7-inch screen only highlights this issue. On the bright side, HD video still looks bright and clear. If you’re a movie fanatic, though, this isn’t the best choice. The 4:3 aspect ratio adds letterboxing (black panels above and below the movie).

It comes with some free premium perks (Galaxy Gifts) for Galaxy owners: 3 month trials for The New York Times, Audiobooks by Audible, Evernote Premium, and a 6 month trial for Blinkist and The Economist. Some games and apps also contain in-app bonuses as part of the perks.

A nice feature here is you can split the screen to run two apps (from selected apps) side by side. The model can handle this without slowing down, either.

The Galaxy Tab A 9.7 comes with a 1.2GHz quad core processor and 1.5GB of RAM. It’s pretty smooth in web browsing, video streaming, and running basic games. There will be some slowdown if you load large games and apps. It won’t stutter too much when running large games, but it benchmarks extremely low for 3D games.

Gamers will want to look elsewhere for a dedicated gaming tablet.

Pros

  • Thin and lightweight
  • Good battery life
  • Free premium app perks
  • MicroSD slot expandable to 128GB

Cons

  • Low-resolution display
  • Mediocre specs for the price

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

Dragon Touch i10x

The Dragon Touch i10x has a good-looking 10.1 IPS display, so that you can view it from any angle. Colors are bright and text is sharply rendered. For movie watchers, though, note that the widescreen display means you’ll have to deal with letterboxing, the black panels above and below the movie effectively lessening the screen real estate.

The keyboard it comes with effectively turns it into a mini laptop. It even feels like laptop keys—firm and clicky instead of rubbery. The keyboard connects to the slate via magnets.

It comes with a 1.33GHz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, making navigating menus and internet browsing a smooth process. You’ll be able to multitask without noticeable slowdown, although you’ll still want to keep running simultaneous large apps to a minimum.

The storage is a mixed bag. It comes with 64GB of internal storage, with around 45GB of that available out of the box. However, the microSD slot is expandable only up to 32GB.

The battery life is around 5 hours of running videos full-time, which is pretty much average.

Pros

  • Good overall performance
  • Nice, crisp display
  • Detachable keyboard
  • Free 1-year trial of Office 365 (including Word, Powerpoint, and Excel)
  • Large internal Storage

Cons

  • Nonstandard charge cable
  • Poor stereo speakers
  • MicroSD slot only expands to 32GB

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

Fire HD 10 10.1-Inch

The Fire HD 10 has a frame that feels a bit cheap. The shiny black rear panel retains your fingerprints every time you touch it, so that it easily gets covered in smudges. On the other hand, however, this tablet is currently one of the lightest on the market at 15.2 ounces, making it a breeze to hold.

Any content you access has to be through the Amazon app store instead of Google Play. You’ll be able to get popular apps and games from the Amazon app store, but trending new apps from Google Play are unlikely to be there.

It has a 1280 x 800 resolution, which isn’t impressive compared to its competition. The brightness of 370 nits is about average, and the color fidelity is pretty good. The dual speakers are clear and loud for the most part. All this taken together makes it quite a decent device for watching movies.

The Fire HD 10 comes with a quad core processor (2 at 1.2GHz and 2 at 1.5GHz) and 1GB of RAM. This makes browsing and single-tasking smooth enough, but you’ll want to avoid multitasking if you don’t want it slowing down to a crawl.

Even just downloading something in the background causes it to become less responsive to pressing the Home button, for instance. It’s also rather slow in navigating through the menus, even with nothing running in the background.

It also stutters occasionally in running even basic games—it scores 1,514 on multicore benchmark tests (1,100 points lower than the average).

The battery life is 9 hours of continuous surfing, which is decent and longer than Amazon’s projected 8 hours.

Pros

  • OS helps in content discovery
  • Good parental controls
  • High-tech “Mayday” customer support (video chat)
  • Expandable storage

Cons

  • Cheap, smudgey design
  • Display is lower resolution than competition
  • Sluggish in performance

<< Check the latest price on Amazon >>

 

Hopefully you found what you were looking for on this list. If not, you’re a very hard person to please!