Typically when you think of tablets nowadays, you think of Apple’s iPad, and it’s understandable following strong sales and hype. With the iPad, Apple opened the floodgates to a host of new devices, nearly as diverse as those in the smartphone space.
We’ve picked a handful of tablets which bring something special to the table in each instance and all offer more for less.
Hannspree HANNSpad - £69.99 - “The cheap and cheerful one”
The HANNSpad (SN70T) is the true affordable tablet. It might feature lacklustre specs next to rivals, with regards to its single-core 1GHz CPU and low resolution WVGA (800x480) 7-inch display, but it’s wholly useable, runs Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich out-the-box, features a front-facing camera and offers solid build quality.
The Hannnspreee HANNSpad won’t be for everyone, but if you want to be able to check your email or watch YouTube out an about, it’s compact form factor and impressively low price point make it the perfect entry-level Android tablet.
Google Nexus 7 by Asus - £239.99 - “Pint-sized powerhouse”
There’s a strong possibility that you’ve heard of this tablet, aside from being the newest devices in the lineup, it’s also one of the most powerful and endorsed by Google. The Nexus 7 threw the tablet market off balance when it arrived in stores back in July with a £159 price tag and a spec sheet far more at home in a more costly device and since then, things have only gotten better.
Purchasing a Nexus 7 not only gives you a Tegra 3 quad-core toting 32GB tablet with a pin-sharp 7-inch HD display and 3G, but you also get the latest build of Android, version 4.2 Jelly Bean and guaranteed updates for the next two iterations of the tablet and smartphone OS. Add to that the Google Play Store which offers books, movies and nearly 700,000 apps to download and the package is extremely appealing. The 16GB version retails for £159.99 and here we’ve priced the top-of-the-line 32GB/3G model.
We examined the Nexus 7 under a microscope in our full review, which you can read here.
Disgo 9104 - £169.99 - “The Android iPad”
Probably the budget tablet of choice before the Nexus 7 arrived, the Disgo 9104 still has one main advantage over its budget Android rivals, screen real estate. The 9104 features an expansive 9.7-inch 1024x768 IPS display - in fact the same LG-made display which graced the original iPad, with the impressive viewing angles and clarity that Apple offered when it first set foot in the modern tablet space.
Alongside the display there’s a 1.2GHz single-core CPU and 16GB of internal storage with expandable memory support via microSD card up to 32GB. In the way of multimedia, unlike the previous two tablets, the Disgo can offer both front and rear facing camera with a 2-megapixel unit on the back and a 0.3-megapixel unit on the front. There are stereo speakers and 5-hours of battery life from the 7000mAh battery.
Alongside the display there’s a 1.2GHz single-core CPU and 16GB of internal storage with expandable memory support via microSD card up to 32GB. In the way of multimedia, unlike the previous two tablets, the Disgo can offer both front and rear facing cameras with a 2-megapixel unit on the back and a 0.3-megapixel unit on the front. There are stereo speakers and 5-hours of battery life from the 7000mAh battery.
The Disgo 9104 featured as our Bake of the Week in Baked: Episode 2 which you can watch, here.
Motorola Xoom 2: Media Edition - £179.99 - “The tough nut to crack”
The ‘Media Edition’ is a variant of the Xoom 2, endowed with a slightly smaller 8.2-inch display which for many, in fact makes it more desirable for its compact form, without compromising on screen quality. The screen supports a resolution of 1280x800 (WXGA) and the body construction is a distinctive mix of soft-touch plastic and anodised aluminium.
The tough looking exterior isn’t purely cosmetic as the Xoom 2 features Motorola’s splash-guard coating inside and out, making the body and components hydrophobic to repel liquid and reduce the risk of liquid damage.
Hardware wise, alongside the high resolution screen, the Media Edition is well-endowed for a slightly older tablet with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 5-megapixel rear camera capable of 1080p HD video recording, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera which can shoot in 720p HD video, 16GB of onboard storage. It runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb out-the-box with an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich expected to arrive soon.
You can see what we thought of the Motorola Xoom 2: Media Edition in our full review, here.
Apple iPad Mini - £269.99 - “The baby belle”
Android dominates the affordable device market thanks to its versatility as an OS, however one of Apple’s latest endeavours is the iPad Mini and although it may be the priciest tablet in the list, it’s still one of the most affordable, complete tablet packages Apple have ever made.
The iPad Mini is available in a selection of capacities and can be had as a WiFi-only model or in a fully connected form that supports both 3G and 4G. The display mirrors the resolution of the Apple iPad 2 but shrinks the display size down to 7.9-inches, making convenient one-handed use possible. What’s more the looks and feel of both the hardware and the latest iOS 6.0.1 running onboard provide an extremely premium user experience, best summing this tablet up as ‘affordable luxury’.
The Motorola Xoom 2: Media Edition would be our pick if you’re looking for an affordable all singing, all dancing tablet, mainly due to its dual cameras, it’s screen size and its durability, but the Google Nexus 7 pips it to the post with its incredible value, excellent performance and the all important future update support guarantee.
If you have any questions about any of tablets featured here, just fire us a comment below or via Twitter.