Therein lies the problem for many of us – the concept is appealing, but for those on limited budgets or concerned about breaking the bank, the initial outlay of $500 or more for an iPad is a daunting prospect. Fear not, as the market has matured considerably over the past few years, producing some great budget tablets for $250 or less.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD has just been released and is a marked improvement on its predecessors. Retailing at around $199, it’s a solid safe option for those dipping their toes into the water of tablet PCs, with a great interface, 7” crystal-clear HD screen, surprisingly good sound for its size and a curated app store to prevent accidental clogging-up of the device with less-than-authentic software.
The non-HD version, the Amazon Kindle Fire is available in a couple of weeks slightly cheaper at $159 for the very cash-conscious, but the larger screen and extra features make the extra $40 worth paying considering this tablet’s best function is as a media player used in conjunction with Amazon Prime.
An alternative for ease of use is the Barnes & Noble Nook, which comes in at around $179 and offers a similar range of media-playing options via Netflix, Hulu Plus and the growing Nook Store. Its best feature when compared to the Kindles is its microSD slot, making the limited 8GB of onboard memory a negligible consideration.
For those who want the full, unadulterated Android tablet experience, with full access to the Play Store, the latest Jelly Bean OS and NFC support, you may want to spend your $199 on the quad-core Nexus 7, the definitive 7” tablet. More comfortable and faster than the Kindle Fire, the lack of restrictions give budget-conscious but tech-savvy users freedom to use this tablet as they see fit.
It lacks a camera, but for those for whom the ability to take snaps is essential in any tablet they purchase, $225 or so will net you the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, so long as the courts don’t ban its sale again. The Galaxy isn’t radically different from the Nexus 7, though Google’s tablet does have a slight edge over the Koreans’ offering for those who don’t care too much about the lack of a camera.