The best cheap tablets of 2016 (1)

 

If you are looking for a good cheap tablet, you will see that there is an abundance  of options (especially in 2016). To save you the time of running from store to store, we have compiled a list of what we think are the best tablets in this budget range.

CHECK THE PART 2 OF THIS ARTICLE

 

Google Nexus 7 (2013)

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The Google Nexus 7 has been on the market for a while and even now, this small tablet manages to be on top of the competition (although not for long…see note).
Featuring a sharp display and great performance, we consider this tablet to be one of the best on this list.
Note: Although it received regular updates from Google (which was one of its backbone), since April 2015, this tablet has been discontinued, but can still be purchased from other places (other than the Google Store’s website)

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Design
The Nexus 7 has a simple, yet elegant design, a smooth finish on the back and rounded corners. Being a 7″ tablet, the Nexus 7 is one of the most easy to handle tablets on the market (being only 10.2 ounces).
The dimensions of this tablet are 4.5×7.9×0.34in. On the right side we find the volume rocker and a power/sleep button , on top side rests the headset jack and on the back we see a pair of speakers grills (one up, one down) and on the lower part, the micro-usb port.

Display
The Nexus 7 features a 1920×1200 pixel, 16:10 IPS LCD display with 323 ppi with great viewing angles. The display is very bright (sunny days are not a problem), capable of rendering true, accurate colours and little to no reflections.
We tested the display by playing some videos and the picture was vibrant, the black levels were great, the scenes maintained their details and overall we were very pleased by this small tablet.

Performance and Software
Google Nexus 7 has a 1.5GHz Qualcomm SnapDragon S4 PRO processor, backed by 2 GB Ram, a single-core Adreno graphics chip and 16/32GB storage. Additionally, it supports both 2.4 and 5GHz (a/b/g/n) WiFi, GPS(really great feature for car owners) and Bluetooth.
Running the Android 4.3, we tested some apps and games to see if this tablet can keep up. The built-in apps from Google had no problems, navigating through them was a breeze, but with other apps, like Netflix we did experience some problems but only on the UI, the movies played without problems.
Games run smooth and fast, with little to no artifacts (even on resource-heavy games).

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Camera and Battery Life
The Nexus 7 features two cameras, a front facing, 1.2-megapixel camera and a rear 5-megapixel camera. The main camera shoots reasonable pictures in good light (a bit noisy in low light) and we were able to capture good 1080p at 30fps indoors videos.
Note: With Photosphere, we were able to take great full 360 degree panoramic pictures.
As for battery life, on average you can reach about 8 hours before recharging (a bit lower than the original 10 hours but still above average).

Weaknesses: Storage problems (no 64 GB variant), no microSD and the camera is average at best

The Nexus 7 is a great tablet, with a sharp display, great performance and because it has a very attractive price tag, it could be considered the best tablet we have reviewed with a cheap price tag.

 

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

The main competitor for the Nexus 7 is the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7. Being the third generation of the Kindle Fire tablet, the HDX 7 has great performance, is comfortable and really affordable.

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Design
The Kindle Fire HDX looks a lot better than its predecessor (the Fire HD). It is lighter, slimmer (a lot more pleasant to hold), with matted soft touch plastic and glossy bezel around the display.
The HDX weights 10.7 oz and its dimensions are 7.3×5.0x0.4in (a bit wider than the Nexus 7). On the right side we find a headset jack and on the left side, a microUSB port. On the back side you can find the volume buttons and the power button (on the opposite sides) that are very accessible and large.

Display
Kindle Fire HDX features a 1920×1200 pixel IPS LCD display with 323 ppi and with good viewing angle. Even if it’s not as bright as the Nexus 7, the display manages to deliver a wonderful experience.
The picture quality is good, with vibrant and true colours, the text is crisp and when playing a movie, the scenes were reasonably detailed. There is a small problem with a black shadow along the edge when viewing a white document.
A great feature that has been implemented is the dynamic image contrast. The effect is subtle, working great in both dark (indoors) and bright (on the beach) areas.

Performance and Software
The HDX features a 2.2GHz Quad-core SnapDragon 800 processor, backed by 2GB RAm, an Adreno 330 GPU and 16/32/64 GB internal storage. As for connectivity, the HDX supports 802.11 b/g/n with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and it has support for the ultra-fast 4G LTE wireless networks.
The applications load quickly, games loaded and played smooth (without stuttering or artifacts) and overall, this tablet felt incredibly fast and versatile (especially for a budget tablet).
Note: The sound is helped by a Dolby Digital Plus, being reasonably loud and pretty clear.
The OS running on the HDX is the the Fire OS 3.0 (Mojito) that was built on the Android Jelly Bean. The Mojito revolves around shopping (it was built by Amazon after all) and after you’ve made an account you are ready to make purchases.
One of the main parts is the carousel that lets you easily swipe through your content (listed by the newest). The Silk browser allows for an easy access to the internet, navigation was smooth and uneventful.
A cool feature is the Mayday that helps you get in touch with an Amazon representative in less than a minute to help you with your experience with the tablet. Mayday is available 24/7.
Note: Silk browser doe not support flash!

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Camera and Battery Life
The HDX features a 720p front camera and no rear camera. The camera is good for talking on Skype or taking selfies, but nothing beyond that.
Even if Amazon claims 11 hours battery life, using this tablet on medium to high will get you about 8 hours before you have to recharge it. If used only for reading, we had to recharge the tablet after about 18 hours.

Weaknesses: No microSD,  no rear camera and the Amazon interface.

In conclusion, we can say that the Kindle Fire HDX is a great tablet, manages to deliver a great experience, it is easy to use, lightweight and portable and performance-wise it is one of the best tablet for its budget.

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4

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Seeing that it is rather popular, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 tablet has definitely earned its place in this list. The best way to describe this tablet is that although not impressive, the Tab 4 does not disappoint and don’t be fooled, it is a top choice for its budget.

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Design
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 has a compact, simple design, with a smooth back (not slippery) and although the material choice is plastic, the tablet is solid and sturdy. Around the edges, the Tab 4 has a metal binding. It comes in two colour variants, white and black.
The Tab 4 measures 7.36×4.25×0.35in (narrower than the Kindle Fire HDX 7) and weights about 9.7 ounces. On the bottom edge lies the microUSB port and on the top edge, we find the headset jack. On the right side the volume button is positioned along with the power button, the microSD slot and an IR emitter (for WatchOn app).

Display
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 features a 1280x800p WXGA PLS display with 215ppi and great viewing angle. The colours render pretty accurately (though a bit unsaturated), the image is consistent and overall the display is pleasant. A bit on the downside is the brightness.
Although not a problem indoors, when outside, on a sunny day, the display is nearly unreadable. What we liked about this display is that there is no shifting when the screen is tilted at weird angles.

Performance and Software
The Tab 4 has a 1.2GHz quad-core Marvell PXA1088 CPU backed by 1.5GB RAM and 8GB flash memory (you can add up to 32GB through microSD and 50GB free Dropbox storage). In terms of connectivity, the tablet supports 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4GHz and Bluetooth 4.0/4.0 LE.
Depending on the occupied RAM, the tablet may become sluggish and some apps may become unresponsive. As for games, depending on how many resources were needed, the experience was average, some games played smooth, others stuttered.
The OS is the Android 4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz interface.
Browsing the web was a pleasant experience, websites displayed fast and correctly and the scrolling was quick.
From the performance point of view, the Tab 4 has a lot of potential but it was left unoptimized.

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Camera and Battery Life
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 has a 1.2-megapixel front camera and a 3-megapixel rear camera (both not really impressive). worth mentioning are two included camera modes, the ‘Beauty Face’ and ‘Sound and Shot’.
The main camera records 720p videos that although were reasonable, we couldn’t help but feel annoyed by the shakiness.
On maximum usage, the 4000mAH battery managed to achieve 6 hours before needing recharging. On normal, medium, usage, the battery life is rated at about 10 hours.

Weaknesses: Very poor cameras, a bit slow and the display, although reasonable, there are other tablets that offer a lot more for the same price.

Having a simple design, good performance and a reasonable display, The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 is a tablet that gets the job done.

 

Asus Memo Pad 8 (ME181C)

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Knowing the great success of Nexus 7, Asus brings yet another budget Android tablet, the Asus Memo Pad 8. Let’s see if it is on par with Nexus 7.

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Design
The Asus Memo 8 is light, thin, comfortable to handle and overall it is a well-built, solid constructed tablet. The cover is made of matte plastic with rubberized textured back and soft round edges that makes the tablet feel like a premium one.
The Memo 8 measures 8.3×4.9×0.3in and weight 11.2 ounces. On the top edge is the headset jack, next to the microUSB port and on the left side we find the microSD slot. On the right side of the tablet we can find the volume rocker and the lock button. The speakers (ASUS Sonic Master) are located on the bottom edge.
Note: The MicroSD slot can be used to add up to 64GB. This gives it a good advantage over the Nexus 7.

Display
The Memo 8 features a 8 inch, 1280x800p IPS LCD display (with very narrow bezels around it) and a pixel density of only 189ppi. We tested the display by rendering some photos and movies and although the display should have been brighter (still, it is brighter than the Lenovo A8) it does reproduce reasonably accurate colours, the images were sharp, but the black levels were a little subpar.
The scenes from the movie rendered in detail and even if the display isn’t jaw-dropping, for it’s price it looked very good. It is a shame that Asus did not use a FullHD resolution as the IPS panel can produce high quality pictures.

Performance and Software
The Asus Memo 8 has a 64-bit, 1.33GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 processor backed by 1GB RAM, an Intel HD Graphics GPU, 16GB internal storage and a 64GB possible microSD storage (and 500GB Asus WebStorage). As for connectivity, the tablet supports 802.11 b/g/ 2.4GHz and Bluetooth 4.0.
The only time we found this tablet to be a bit sluggish was on start-up. The rest of the time, it handled a large array of apps and games without problems but we did notice some stuttering on some newer, resource-heavy games. If a lot of apps are open at the same time, the Asus Memo 8 does get slow and laggy and you may have to close all apps and way for a minute to solve the problem.
Browsing the internet was smooth, checking emails, notifications were uneventful.
This tablet runs the Android KitKat overlaid by the intuitive Asus ZenUI interface.

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Camera and Battery Life
This tablet comes with a 2-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera (with a better sensor and auto-focus).
The Asus Memo 8 has a 3950mAh battery that help up to 7 hours before needing recharging on high usage and if on lighter, moderate use, it should deliver a full day.

Weaknesses: only 1280x800p, not so great cameras

As a conclusion, maybe the Asus Memo 8 isn’t on par with Nexus 7 and maybe performance isn’t this tablet’s forte, but the battery life is better, the addition of microSD is a nice feature and the premium feel of the case makes this tablet worth having.

 

Lenovo Ideatab A8

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The Lenovo IdeaTab A8 is an entry-level tablet that comprises decent performance, an above-average display and a good looking design. But let’s see how well it performs and if it’s worth buying compared to other tablets in the competition.

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Design
The A8 features an elegant, light design, with a smooth finish back (no fingerprints), rounded corners and a plastic strip around the perimeter (a bit raised above the screen). The tablet comes in white, dark-blue, red and yellow.
The dimensions of A8 are 8.5×5.4×0.35in and it weights 12.6 ounces (still very portable). On the top edge there is a microUSB port and a headphone jack, on the left side you can find a microSD slot and on the right side there is the volume controller and the power button.
A single speaker is located on the bottom of the screen.

Display
The Lenovo IdeaTab A8 has a 8 inch, 1280x800p IPS display with 189ppi and wide viewing angles. Although the screen may not seem impressive on paper it does have a good colour reproduction (with good saturation) and a very good contrast (about 770:1). But like many other budget tablets it does suffer when in bright area, so it is a hassle trying to view the screen outside.
Still, when watching a movie (preferably indoors or in the shade) we liked the sharp details and accurate colours. Again, for about the same price there are other tablets that offer FullHD resolution (which is a lot more reasonable when using IPS panels).

Performance and Software
The A8 comes with a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT8121 backed by 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, a PowerVr SGX544 GPU, 16 GB flash drive and a possible 32GB from microSD. As for connectivity, the tablet supports 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz and Bluetooth 4.0.
The tablet performs relatively fast when running most apps or games but if streaming FullHD videos or playing high-end games is on your mind, then this tablet may struggle and you should see other options.
Comparing to the Memo PAD, The A8 performed pretty much the same, but comparing to Nexus 7, the Adreno GPU performed a bit better. On idle, the surface temperature reached around 85 degrees F and a maximum of 93 degrees F on extensive use (this is better than Nexus 7)
As for OS, the A8 comes equipped with the Android 4.2, pretty much the stock version without an application drawer.
Browsing the web was smooth, webpages loaded quickly and scrolling was fast.

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Camera and Battery Life
The A8 features a 2-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera. The rear camera, although not really impressive can shoot decent photos but it does need some balancing and customization. Also, the camera can shoot reasonably sharp 720p videos.
The battery life of Lenovo A8 is good, on light to medium use can last more than a day and on extensive use, you will have to recharge it after about 8 hours.

Weaknesses: No HDMI, No dual speakers, not so great cameras.

So is this tablet worth having? Well, yes. Lenovo Ideatab A8 is a simple, decent tablet with an affordable price, that does deliver adequate performance and a great battery life.
CHECK THE PART 2 OF THIS ARTICLE

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