By Chris Messenger | Published 20/09/2012
When they first descended upon the marketplace, tablet PCs were very expensive. Gadget fiends, who compulsively need the latest devices, shelled out the big bucks, as did business professionals eager to seem affluent and modern. As those early pioneers paved the way for a revolution in portable computing, the rest of us waited for the inevitable price drop...
We weighed the pros against the cons, which ranged in severity depending on our economic status.
Yes, they were practical, but so was having the best part of half a grand stored away for a rainy day.
Yes they were useful, but so was having £400 in your bank account.
Yes they were cool, but not as cool as being able to eat dinner every night.
Yes they looked professional, but duct tape on your shoes didn't.
If you have that sort of money just lying around, then good luck to you. If, however, you don't have wealth of quite that magnitude, then there has actually never been a better time to buy a tablet PC. Good models, even great models are dropping in price within a few months of their initial release, meaning that you can get the best Android Tablet at a great price and it will still be there or thereabouts top of the range.
As tablet PCs transform the marketplace, we thought we'd give you our rundown on the top 5 cheap tablets released (or reduced) so far this year. Call it an early Christmas present.
The Xerious is cheap, yet surprisingly cheerful.
The Go Tab isn't the best tablet on the market, specs wise, but it is one of the finest budget models ever produced. It runs the latest Android (Ice Cream Sandwich) and maintains an excellent WiFi connection. For the price range, it is actually fantastic.
It isn't particularly flashy or high spec, but it is a very nice, mid level tablet that is available at a decidedly low level price. This is a solid, reliable little runaround that is bang up to date and will get the job done with no problems at all.
The X220 is tried, tested and true.
It's been around for a couple of years and it only runs Android 2.2, but the X220 is still popular with users for its ease of use and innate likeability. It's a budget model, so don't go expecting the Earth, but what you will get here is an able little tablet aided by a fantastic tech support team who really do seem to go the extra mile.
A fairly underwhelming memory and a pretty dim screen are the only real letdowns on an otherwise fine tablet. It may be a couple of years old and a little out of date, but it never feels like its a couple of years old or a little out of date, if that makes sense.
At number 3 in our Top 5 cheap android tablets roundup is this little guy. Though it may be named like a background character in the cantina scene from ‘Star Wars’, there’s actually quite a lot to recommend the Loox. Running Android 2.3, and with 4GB internal memory, this is an ideal candidate for someone who wants to buy a cheap Tablet.
Odys haven’t skimped on the outer casing, either, with a pleasing brushed aluminium front and a high quality 7 inch screen, the Loox looks a lot more expensive than its modest asking price. This ensures that, although it didn’t cost a lot, a good Tablet can still look like a million quid.
The M009s is affordable, no frills and decent.
You actually can't say fairer than £60 for this little beast. No, it isn't the best tablet around, but it really does earn its money and then some. You don't get much in the way of extra functions, but if you're after a basic model for emails/Facebook and a couple of apps, then this one won't steer you far wrong.
Your £60 buys you a tablet that will do the basics, but it will do them well. It won't make the tea or tell you how good you look today (I'm sure someone at Apple is designing those apps), but it'll keep you amused on a boring train journey.
The Nexus is fresh, exciting and innovative.
This is possibly the perfect tablet. Absolutely everything on this machine lived up to its promise. It is smooth, sexy and bang up to date. The Nexus has a ridiculously long battery life and outperforms a slew of other tablets in terms of processing speed, battery life and general vitality.
The Nexus 7 employs very high standards, both inside and out, but sticks to a modest price tag, which is totally refreshing. Whilst it isn't the cheapest model on this list, the Google Nexus does represent the best value for money by far.
As you can see, cheap tablets range from yesterday's heroes that you can catch as they tumble haphazardly down the price list, all the way to budget models that are designed for those with a smaller income, (making up with reliability and usefulness what they may lack in panache). Then there's the Google Nexus 7 – a different beast entirely. It's a top-level machine with a mid level price tag. You can't beat that, can you?
So there you have it. That's our view, anyway. If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to post a comment below and give us your two cents. If you did get one of the models listed, why not let us know what you thought of it?
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