Best cheap tablets: top budget options

2nd May 2013 | 15:43

Best cheap tablets: top budget options

The best tablets £300 can get you

Best budget tablets: 1-3

The iPad 4 still rules the roost as the best 10-inch (technically 9.7-inch) tablet in the world, but with prices starting at £399 and rising all the way to £659, 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 iPad Mini has recently entered the fray at a lower price point.

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

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 £300.

1. iPad mini

iPad mini

Price: from £269
OS: iOS 6
Review score: 4.5/5

best in class

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 here we are.

In terms of consistency in the tablet market Apple cannot be matched, as it now lays claim to the first two places in our top 10, with the iPad mini the jewel in an already glistening crown.

The slight downsides to the iPad mini are that it misses out on a Retina display and it pushes the upper end of the budget price bracket, but you can justify that price with its slick operation and premium build quality, letting you know you have a top piece of kit in your hand - as we said in our review "the iPad mini is the best iPad Apple has ever created."

2. Google Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7

Price: from £159
OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Review score: 4.5/5

With a quad-core processor, beefy 12-core GPU, 7-inch HD IPS display and being the first device to run Android Jelly Bean, the Google Nexus 7 is quite simply the best budget tablet out there.

The 16GB version is available for just £159, while the 32GB model will only set you back £199. It's quite possibly the bargain of the century.

There are a few shortcomings – such as no microSD card slot, meaning you're stuck with 32GB at most, and no rear camera – although these can be easily overlooked at this startlingly attractive price.

3. Asus FonePad

Asus FonePad

Price: £179.99
OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Review score: 4/5

It's almost identical to the Nexus 7 sitting in second place, but the FonePad has a few trump cards including a great price, microSD slot and 3G connectivity which not only allows you to get online but also send/receive phone calls and text messages.

You'd be forgiven for wondering why the FonePad isn't sitting calmly at number two, but the Jelly Bean interface isn't quite as slick (it's packing a dual-core, not quad-core chip), you can pick up a Wi-Fi only Nexus 7 for less dosh and while the call function is cool, it's also a little impractical on a device this size.

That said pair it up with a Bluetooth headset and you might as well turf your smartphone out, as the FonePad can do pretty much everything.

Best budget tablets: 4-7

4. Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Price: from £159
OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Review score: 4.5/5

What's better than a tablet with a quad core processor? One that costs just £159. That's right: the power of the Kindle brand has mated with an HD screen and won't charge you the earth to own it.

Coming in at 16GB and 32GB flavours, the Kindle Fire HD is sure to be a big hit, bringing the simplicity of the e-book range to the tablet arena, with dedicated space to access your movies, games, apps and music too.

It's a little simplistic for some, but for others it's the perfect mix of curated content and easy to use interface - and despite the price, it's got a decent build quality too.

5. Acer Iconia A210

Acer Iconia A210

Price: from £201.95
OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Review score: 4/5

The Acer Iconia A210 is one of the best budget 10-inch tablets available.

If it wasn't for the very average battery life, we'd be having a major fling with the A210 because it has both flexibility and an Acer-made polish to its user interface that we really enjoyed using.

The A210 may not have the show stopping specs of some of the other tablets on other, but at the end of the day it offers a solid tablet experience at a great price.

6. Toshiba AT200

Toshiba AT200

Price: from £219.99
OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Review score: 4/5

The Toshiba AT200 was once the world's thinnest 10.1-inch tablet clocking in at a super slender 7.7mm thin, but it's now lost that title to the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.

Still, it means you can slide it into your bag without issue, and at 535g, you probably won't notice it's in there.

The Toshiba AT200 is a good, solid and portable device, delivering everything you'd expect from an unfussy Android slate. If you're looking for a standard tablet experience, the AT200 is certainly worth a look.

7. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

Price: from £249.99
OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Review score: 4.5/5

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 is a funny little thing. It's essentially the same as its older brother, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but with an 8.9-inch screen.

It's slightly thinner and lighter, and consequently more convenient for anyone wanting to stuff it in a bag, while the internal components are basically the same.

While it may be starting to show its age, it's ideal for anyone who thinks 10.1 inches is just slightly too big for a tablet, finds 7-inch options a tad too small and can't afford an iPad mini. A decent screen, and premium features make it a great option.

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