Best cheap tablets: top budget options

24th Jul 2014 | 14:43

Best cheap tablets: top budget options

The best tablets £250 can buy you

Best budget tablets: 9-6

The iPad Air is ruling the roost as the best tablet in the world, but with prices starting at £399 and rising to over £700, it's clearly priced in a bracket way above many people's budget.

Apple's sky-high prices mean those wanting a more affordable tablet experience will have to look elsewhere, although the original iPad Mini has seen a price cut since its successor, the iPad Mini with Retina display, came onto the scene.

Google's Android operating system now adorns a multitude of tablets, from those priced at the same lofty heights of Apple's offerings such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S and Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, to those that can be picked up for less than £100 at your local supermarket – although we'd advise against purchasing most of these, and instead check out the superior options below.

We're also seeing Windows 8 tablets beginning to drop in price, although they're still not at the level of the Android slates.

Be sure to check out our tablet buying guide too.

If you can't quite hack the lower offerings, and you've managed to scrape together enough money to indulge in a pricier tablet experience, then take a gander at the following:

For those of you who are still with us, well done. To reward you for your loyalty, here are some top tablets for under £250.

9. Acer Iconia W4

Acer Iconia W4

OS:Windows 8.1
Review score: 4/5

We always knew it was going to happen, and at last it has. We finally have some low cost Windows 8.1 tablets, and the Iconia W4 is now sitting comfortably within the £250 threshold.

The big selling point of the Iconia W4 is its full blown Windows 8.1 operating system, giving you all the functionality of a PC on an 8-inch display and wrapped in a portable chassis.

Its 1.33GHz quad-core processor may not be the most powerful around, and with 2GB of RAM it's less powerful than some high-end smartphones, but with a decent display and reasonable battery life the Iconia W4 is a solid performer.

8. Lenovo Miix 2

Lenovo Miix 2

OS:Windows 8.1
Review score: 4/5

A superior design sees the Lenovo Miix 2 sneak in just ahead of its simarly specced Windows 8.1 rival, the Acer Iconia W4.

It sports the same 1.33GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, but its 1200 x 800 display is a touch smaller at 8 inches, rather than 8.1 - it's also a touch cheaper than the W4.

For a small tablet that's easy to hold and carry around, the Lenovo Miix 2 8 doesn't get much wrong. It's certainly one of the nicer 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet's we've tried but you'll need to keep your expectations in check.

7. Archos 80 Titanium

Archos 80 Titanium

OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Review score: 4/5

It might be rocking an old version of Google's Jelly Bean platform, but the Archos 80 Titanium still offers a fluid experience at a low, low price.

The 80 Titanium doesn't look or feel as good as the other tablets in this run down, but considering you're getting a 1.6Ghz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8-inch HD display, microSD slot and front and rear cameras it's still a capable device.

If you're looking for a tablet with a decently sized screen and won't cost you an arm and a leg the Archos 80 Titanium will do all your basic tasks with minimum fuss.

6. Tesco Hudl

Tesco Hudl

OS: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
Review score: 4/5

The Tesco Hudl. Yep, that's right, Tesco - the supermarket. Don't let that put you off though, the Hudl is a fantastic tablet that will cost you just a shade over £100.

Normally when a tablet is this cheap alarm bells ring left, right and centre, but the Tesco Hudl is one of those rare £100 slates which you can actually depend on.

The cameras are pretty shocking, it takes a while to charge and it's not the snappiest tablet around, but with a sharp display and ample storage as well as stock Android there's a lot to love about the Hudl.

Best budget tablets: 5-1

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
Review score: 4/5

This is a bit of a surprise - a relatively new Samsung slate making it into the "best cheap tablets" roundup - but the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 does just that.

It's obviously towards the upper end of the £250 boundary, but you get a lot for your money including an 8.4-inch 1600 x 2560 SuperAMOLED display, 2.3GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, Android KitKat, microSD slot plus front and rear cameras.

The plastic construction isn't the best we've seen on the tablet, and the speaker placement could be better, but if you want a supremely powerful tablet with an impressive screen the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is a decent shout.

4. iPad mini

iPad mini

OS: iOS 7
Review score: 4.5/5

Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs famously slammed small tablets a few years back, leading many to believe the Cupertino-based firm would never dabble in the budget end of the market, but it's now on its second iteration.

While the latest iPad Mini 2 (with Retina display) doesn't fall in the "£250 and under" bracket, its excellent predecessor is still on sale and it's new lower, price means the original iPad mini is more affordable than ever.

The slight downside to the iPad mini is that it misses out on a Retina display, but you can easily justify its new price with its slick operation and premium build quality, letting you know you still have a top piece of kit in your hand.

3. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7

OS: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
Review score: 4/5

The Kindle Fire HDX 7 may be an Android tablet at heart, but fire it up and you wouldn't recognise Google's work. That's because Amazon has completely rebuilt Android to its own liking, giving you instant access to all the services the online retailer offers.

This means browsing Amazon's huge collection of eBooks, watching a movie on LoveFilm or even just browsing the web is simple on the full HD display - but anyone looking for flexibility here will be sorely disappointed - the Kindle Fire HDX is almost as locked down as an iPad.

In short, if you're heavily invested in Amazon's ecosystem, or want a hassle free (yet limited) user interface, the Kindle HDX 7 could be the perfect tablet for you - if you want something more, keep reading.

2. LG G Pad 8.3

LG G Pad 8.3

OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
Review score: 4.5/5

If the 7-inch tablet range is a little too small for your liking, and the iPad mini 2 is just out of your price range then you'll love the LG G Pad 8.3.

As you may have already guessed it sports a 8.3-inch display, a full HD affair which looks great and with a 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 2GB, the G Pad 8.3 has no trouble running Android Jelly Bean.

The metal finish means the G Pad 8.3 also feels great, almost putting it on a par with the premium design of the iPad mini - it's a lovely tablet which won't disappoint.

1. New Nexus 7 (2013)

New Nexus 7 (2013)

OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
Review score: 4.5/5

With a quad-core processor, beefy 12-core GPU, 7-inch full HD display and being the first tablet to run the superb Android KitKat operating system, the new Nexus 7 is quite simply the best budget tablet out there.

The 16GB, Wi-Fi only version is available for just £199, while the 32GB Wi-Fi model will set you back a still reasonable £239. It's quite possibly the bargain of the century.

The only real shortcoming is there is no microSD card slot, meaning you're stuck with 32GB at most – although that can be easily overlooked at this startlingly attractive price.

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