What $300 or less buys in a tablet

Cheap Android tablets are good to play Angry birds, browse the web, and watch YouTube videos

Prices of consumer tablets are now falling as device makers try to pull buyers away from Apple's iPad, which is priced starting at US$499. Some tablets under $300 may sacrifice features, but are good for basic activities like web browsing, video playback and casual gaming.

These tablets run older versions of Android, but are powerful enough for Internet access and video playback. They have Wi-Fi capabilities and fast ARM processors, and actually go a step beyond the iPad with Flash capabilities and USB ports. However, the inexpensive tablets may not rate high on overall quality, as experienced by blogger Lorrie Jollimore with a 7-inch tablet purchased from China. Reliability is always in question, so top-line tablets such as the iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab should remain a primary choice, especially for those who use tablets much of their home or business activities.

ViewSonic's gTablet

The ViewSonic gTablet is priced at $259.99 on Amazon.com, and its redeeming feature is a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. This chip also powers some top Android tablets such as Motorola's Xoom, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Toshiba's Thrive. The catch is the tablet runs on Android 2.2, which is code-named Froyo, while the more expensive models run on Android 3, code-named Honeycomb. ViewSonic has done its best to clean up the gTablet interface, but Android 2.2 does not match up on features with Android 3, which has a specialized tablet interface. But the gTablet can play 1080p video, has USB ports and supports Flash. The device does not provide access to the Android market by default, but users can add access through hacks provided on enthusiast websites (do at your own risk).

Barnes and Noble's Nook Color E-reader

The Nook Color is a tablet masquerading as an e-reader, mostly to benefit B&N's target goal to reach bookworms. While the $249 tablet may not be as powerful as ViewSonic's gTablet, it has a sharp 7-inch screen that can display more than 16 million colors. Users have access to millions of digital books, including multimedia e-books, via B&N's book store. But the Nook Color can serve as a part-time tablet with Flash support and an app market with popular applications such as Angry Birds. The device may lack the performance of ViewSonic's tablet, but the device offers value at the price with high-quality hardware.

Vizio's tablet

Wal-Mart is offering the Vizio Touchscreen Tablet with an 8-inch screen for $298. This tablet, which runs on Android 2.3, offers access to Android Market, which many cheap tablets with Android 2 don't offer. This device in the future will be part of the Vizio Internet Apps Plus ecosystem, where all Vizio Blu-ray players, tablets and smartphones will share a common interface. Details on that program are yet to emerge, but for now the tablet can be a universal digital remote control, and communicate with Vizio TVs and Blu-ray players. The device has a 1GHz processor, camera, micro SD slot and an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port.

Tablets under $200

Want an even cheaper tablet? Pandigital is offering three Android tablets -- Planet, Nova and Star -- starting at $159.99. The tablets include 7-inch screens and offer access to B&N's e-book store, but the screen supports a lesser resolution, so books may not look as good as on B&N's Nook Color. The tablets use a speedy ARM Cortex-A9 processor, which is also the processor design behind Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 chip. They have access to the GetJar app store, from which thousands of applications can be downloaded, even Angry Birds. The tablets can be connected to high-definition televisions through HDMI ports.

The Nova version has Android 2.3, while the others have Android 2.2 The tablets can be upgraded to new Android versions as they become available, the company said. The company's galactic ambitions go further, with plans to announce a tablet called SuperNova next month. Further details about the tablet were not immediately available.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags consumer electronicsDIGITAL GEARviewsonic

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?