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My wife had been dropping hints some some time about having a tablet of her own. Not wishing to blow upwards of a couple of hundred quid right now, I’d been looking at cheaper options. The device would mainly be used for email, Facebook and a bit of web browsing, with a relatively modest number of apps installed, so we she wouldn’t be placing massive demands on the OS and resources.
Could something sub-£100 be any good? I was looking on the Argos website for two reasons. Firstly, they’re consumer-oriented and secondly, the chances of getting a dodgy import are small. There are downsides to this approach, though. A lot of the specs are really quite low and the really good offers turn out to be out of stock. I regard 16gb of RAM as pretty much essential and most cheap offerings are only 8gb. You can expand the pool with an sd card, but apps really need to be in the main storage, imho, and there will also be system files and caches that fill the space up.
Then I found an Acer Iconia 7” with £20 off, and it was actually in stock. At £50, you can’t go wrong and I took the plunge. We’ve only had it a few days, but I’ve been very impressed. Out of the box, about 12gb of storage is available. It uses the Google launcher and comes with commendably little bloatware – what there is seems to be Acer’s duplication of things like Google docs (which is downright perverse!), which are, quelle surprise, non-uninstallable. Not having Facebook burnt indelibly in was a pleasant surprise – though it was one of the apps I installed.
There’s no GPS and only 1gb of RAM, but we’ve still only populated about half the storage. The camera is rubbish (what do you expect for £50 and on a tablet at that?), so there won’t be hundreds of photos and my wife isn’t a heavy music downloader, so there are two space-eaters out of the equation. The screen isn’t the highest resolution – newspaper apps are perfectly readable, but you can see the rough edges. Again, not a major issue and also fine for quick looks at imported photos. Most importantly, Google Play is supported, so there’s access to all Android apps.
As with all technologies, things mature. Software updates are increasingly cosmetic (though security can be a consideration too). The thing is running Android 5.0.1 with no sign of updates. That’s fine and there are no major features that are conspicuous by their absence. It’s a bit like cameras, CD and DVD players. The hardware has stabilised and parts and manufacturing are known quantities. The first portable CD player I bought cost £150 (and had a battery life of one disc!). The last was about a tenner.
So, I can’t speak for every cheapo device out there, but the answer to the question in the title is (so far): Yes, as long as you buy carefully.
Totally agree that some lower end spec phones and tablets can pack quite some punch.
I've used the Samsung Galaxy Tab series and was quite impressed.
I now use an iPad Air but mainly because I was kinda stuck in their ecosystem for a while.
If one shops around online you can come across discontinued models for good prices. Obviously as you say being careful. I won't mention the site names as it's advertising but they are well known. Not the auction ones.
I have a now elderly Samsung Tab 2, but replacements are about £200 and only have 8gb of storage (and 1gb of RAM). They do have GPS and a better screen, though.
I can't quite remember the full name of the Samsung Galaxy Tab I had for review. It was a 10.1 and remember being impressed with it.
I'm unsure on what to choose when my iPad Air goes to Apple heaven.
I was looking at the Pro series of ipads but they are a pretty penny.
Some of the Windows tablets are getting good reviews. Also pricey, though. A lot depends on what you want to do. Windows seems like a good option for business use (even laptop replacement). Budget jobs are mostly 7" (8" is proportionally quite a lot more and 10" not cheap at all). If you want to do more than basic stuff, or gaming, you'll need capacity, RAM, display and graphics plus possibly size. So maybe £400-500?
I'm seeing quite a few articles about what to do if you can't afford a new iPad or Macbook
Spot on @hrym
I have a Macbook Air which to be honest isn't my go to device anymore.
I use my tablet and phone for that.
I've been looking at all types of tablet over time and keep looking back at the ipad pro which is probably more to do with habit and I've always been impressed with the quality of workmanship, ios and suppprt from Apple. Unfortunately they are and imo always have been way over priced
So really as you've touched upon as long as a device has a decent amount of Ram etc then for general consumption your good to go.
I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab3 SM-T310 (10.1")*, bought in early 2014 for the improbably low price of £140; this was through Tesco, and I think there was a special promotion and a fair number of clubcard vouchers to bring it down to that. (* Is that the mouthful of a name you were trying to remember, @BandOfBrothers?)
It was bought in preparation for a totally crazy amount of travelling during 2014, and served us very well, along with a couple of smartphones. The larger screen was excellent for the myriad maps and travelguides we had downloaded for the trips. Since then it has been somewhat under-used, but still going strong.
A friend bought a Tesco Hudl at about the same time, after careful research, and I was impressed with what I saw of it. I think it can only have been 7", so was great for taking everywhere - and it had some incredibly sturdy cases available, to make it toddler-proof into the bargain.
So I'm sure that @hrym is right - decide exactly what you want it to do, read the reviews, compare prices from the reliable suppliers, and provided you don't go out on a limb, you can get an excellent deal.
I'd forgotten about the Hudl, @Annie_N. We did look at them a while back, but weren't quite at the buying stage then. I subsequently saw some good reviews that suggested they were more than just a toy, though I have a feeling they might have been 8gb.