Best budget tablets

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With companies releasing new tablets all the time, it’s hard to settle on one, let alone find one that’s not too costly for what you’re wanting to use it for. Maybe you just want it to be able to play your kids’ favorite apps, or maybe you’re simply looking for something to stream Netflix on, read your favorite e-books, or even just to compile your meeting notes.

Whatever the case, we’ve compiled this list of our favorites for under $200 (and some under $100!). Some are geared toward gaming, others toward reading, and the rest will work for everything in between! They make the best gifts for kids and adults, or even if you’re buying for yourself!

Amazon Fire

Amazon-Fire-7-home-apps-ta

At just $50, the Amazon Fire is a hot sell. Being so cheap, it’s a great gift for kids. This tablet isn’t ideal for work, but it’s perfect for playing games like Angry Birds, Township, The Room saga, and more. It’s also serves the purpose perfectly if you’re looking for a simple e-reader.

 Amazon Fire HD 10
LaunchedSeptember 17, 2015
ReleaseNovember 2015
Display7-inch (1024x600) IPS LCD
ProcessorQuad-core
RAM1GB
Storage8GB / 16GB with microSD card slot
Rear Camera2MP
Front CameraVGA
BatteryN/A (non-removable)
Chargingmicro-USB
SoundRear-facing stereo speakers
SoftwareFire OS 5
ConnectivityBluetooth, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer
Measurements191 x 115 x 10.6mm
Weight313g
ColorsBlack

The Fire tablet is as good as it gets when it comes to budget units. More often than not, you’ll find a $50 tablet to easily crack after a drop on the floor, and sometimes, many cheap tablets are loaded with malware, as they usually end up coming from some strange brand. That’s what makes the Fire tablet it good sell: you’re getting a reliable unit straight from Amazon that can play all of the latest apps, games and movies. Not only that, but as we mentioned earlier, it makes for a great e-reader as well.

Budget tablets don’t get any better than this.

Buy it now: Amazon

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1

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The SHIELD Tablet K1 is a tablet geared towards gaming. In fact, thanks to NVIDIA GRID and the powerful hardware inside the tablet, it’s essentially like a small, portable, touchscreen PC. With GRID and the SHIELD Tablet K1, you can stream all of your favorite PC games from almost anywhere. What sets this tablet apart is truly it’s focus on gaming. In most cases, streaming PC games just isn’t widely available on Android. If it is, it just doesn’t work as well as it needs to. That’s why the SHIELD Tablet K1 is so loved — you’re getting not only a powerful tablet but something where you can take PC gaming on the go as well.

You can hook up a controller and play your favorite PC games wherever you are through NVIDIA’s game streaming service called GRID. And with the awesome amount of accessories available for the NVIDIA Shield tablet, you can continually be improving your experience.

 NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1
LaunchedNovember 17, 2015
ReleaseNovember 2015
Display8-inch (1920x1200) IPS LCD
ProcessorNVIDIA Tegra K1
RAM2GB
Storage16GB with microSD card slot
Rear Camera5MP
Front Camera5MP
Battery5200mAh (non-removable)
Chargingmicro-USB
SoundFront-facing stereo speakers
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro
Measurements221 x 126 x 9.2mm
Weight356g
ColorsBlack

The SHIELD Tablet K1 also has a ton of awesome accessories. Many don’t like using on-screen controls to play PC games, and that’s why NVIDIA offers its own controller with the SHIELD Tablet K1. Not only that, but there are other great accessories as well. Do you travel a lot? In that case, the SHIELD World Charger is an excellent package, providing you with charging solutions for all different regions. Or, maybe you’re an artist or just someone who likes to draw/design. That’s why NVIDIA offers the SHIELD Directstylus2, giving you the ability to draw with precision.

Buy it now: NVIDIA, Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, B&H Photo, Jet

ASUS ZenPad 8

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Looking for affordable and high quality at the same time? Look no further than the ASUS ZenPad 8, priced just under $200. This tablet is built to last, so you can buy it on a budget with the ease of knowing you won’t have to replace it for awhile.

 ASUS ZenPad 8 (Z380KL)
LaunchedJune 2015
ReleaseJuly 2015
Display8-inch (1280x800) IPS LCD
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 410 / 415
RAM1GB / 2GB
Storage8GB / 32GB with microSD card slot
Rear Camera5MP
Front Camera2MP
Battery4000mAh (non-removable)
Chargingmicro-USB
SoundFront-facing speakers
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow with ZenUI
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass
Measurements209 x 123 x 8.5mm
Weight350g
ColorsBlack, White, Aurora Metallic

What makes the ZenPad 8 so special? ASUS realizes that entertainment like movies and TV is important to many people, and that’s what they built the ZenPad 8’s display in mind with. It may only have a 1280×800 resolution, but ASUS has included a lot of its own proprietary technologies to make it beautiful. For instance, ASUS VisualMaster creates a rich and vivid watching experience through hardware and software optimization that creates the perfect balance of contrast, sharpness, color, clarity, and brightness. ASUS’ Tru2Life technology uses the latest image processing technology found on most high-end TVs to bring you the most realistic image possible.

The ZenPad 8 might be a cheap tablet, but make no mistake: it’ll perform almost just as well as any high-end tablet on the market.

Buy it now: AmazonAdoramaNewegg

Google Nexus 7 (2013)

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The Nexus 7 (2013) is an oldie but still a goodie! Yes, it might be three years old at this point, but it’s still equipped with some really great hardware. Not only that, but it’s the only version of the Nexus 7 that got the Marshmallow upgrade when that landed late last year.

What’s the Nexus 7 (2013) good for? Just about anything. Whether you want to game, browse the web, watch movies or even read a book, the Nexus 7 (2013) will handle it without any issue. It also, even for today’s standards, has an incredible display at Full HD resolution. This makes watching media and reading books a pleasant experience, which is something you won’t find on many older tablets.

 NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1
LaunchedJuly 2013
ReleaseJuly 2013
Display7-inch (1920x1200) IPS LCD
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
RAM2GB
Storage16GB / 32GB with microSD card slot
Rear Camera5MP
Front Camera1.2MP
Battery3950mAh (non-removable)
Chargingmicro-USB
SoundRear-facing speakers
SoftwareAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro
Measurements200 x 114 x 8.7mm
Weight290g
ColorsBlack, White

When buying a Nexus 7 (2013), it’s important to make the distinction between it and its older brother, the Nexus 7 (2012). You don’t want the 2012 version at all–it breaks easy, has a lot of problems, and didn’t make the cut for the Marshmallow update. That said, the 2013 version is easily distinguished by its rear camera, as the 2012 variant never had one.

It’s also important to do some shopping around. You’ll find some stores selling the Nexus 7 (2013) for as much as a whopping $500. However, you’ll find it available at other stores for as low as $80. That said, make sure to do your research before pulling the trigger!

Buy it now: Amazon, NewEgg, Best Buy

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

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Maybe you’re struggling with the idea of buying a budget tablet, as you’re wanting some of the better options out there, such as the Galaxy Tab S2 or Nexus 9. Well, there’s no need to worry about that when it comes to the Galaxy Tab A. This tablet is on par with many of the high-end tablets out there, and even outperforms some of them when it comes to the display and battery life.

 Samsung Galaxy Tab A (8.0)Samsung Galaxy Tab A (9.7)
LaunchedMarch 2015March 2015
ReleaseMay 2015May 2015
Display8-inch (1024x768) TFT9.7-inch (1024x768) TFT
ProcessorQuad-coreQuad-core
RAM1.5GB / 2GB1.5GB / 2GB
Storage16GB / 32GB with microSD card slot16GB / 32GB with microSD card slot
Rear Camera5MP5MP
Front Camera2MP2MP
Battery4200mAh (non-removable)6000mAh (non-removable)
Chargingmicro-USBmicro-USB
SoundBottom-facing speakersBottom-facing speakers
SoftwareAndroid 5.0 LollipopAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/nBluetooth 4.1, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyroAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro
Measurements208.3 x 137.9 x 7.4mm242.5 x 166.8 x 7.5mm
Weight313g450g
ColorsSmoky Titanium, Smoky Blue, WhiteSmoky Titanium, Smoky Blue, White

The Galaxy Tab A will only set you back around $170 while providing you with an immense amount of value. It comes in two different models. The smaller 8-inch unit has a 4200mAh battery, while the larger 9.7-inch model has a much heftier 6000mAh battery. Both of these options will give you plenty of time to use it on battery.

It has some mid-range specifications, yes. But these are specs you normally wouldn’t see in a $170 package. The Galaxy Tab A is reliable, high quality, and perfect for on the go use. You can’t go wrong here!

Buy it now: Samsung, Best Buy, Amazon

Closing

All of the tablets on this list have a bunch of unique factors, which can make it difficult to choose just one. But, rest assured, there’s something for everybody here! If you’re looking for a tablet to start your kids out on, then the Amazon Fire is the perfect route to go. But, maybe you’re looking for something high-quality for your own entertainment. In that case, the ASUS ZenPad 8 or Galaxy Tab A are both great options. On the other hand, maybe you’re a person looking for something that can handle some on-the-go gaming. If that’s the case, you can’t go wrong with the SHIELD Tablet K1.

Have you tried any of these tablets out yet? What’s your favorite budget-level tablet? Let us know in the comments section below.


About the Author: Brad Ward

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.


  • http://www.davinp.com/ Davin Peterson

    The 2013 Nexus 7 has a higher resolution screen then the Amazon Fire. Its specs are better then most 7 and 8 inch tablets. I have one and it still works well. Unfortunately, because it is 3 years old it probably will not get Android 7.0