Tablets are appearing in so many TV commercials, there’s little room for doubt that they are a hot item this holiday shopping season. And it seems like almost everyone wants one.
But there are a lot to choose from, and not everyone knows exactly which model to get. And choosing gets even harder for those who are working on a tight budget. That’s why TabletPCReview has assembled its list of the best tablets available for under $300.
These cover a range of operating systems, so there’s something for everyone.
This is the first holiday season that inexpensive but powerful tablets running the full version of Microsoft Windows have been available. Dell is offering the model that’s quickly becoming the breakout in this category.
The Venue 8 Pro has an 8-inch, 1280 x 800 screen, and is powered by an Intel Atom quad-core “Bay Trail” processor, with 2GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage, and a microSD memory card slot.
It runs Windows 8.1 and is bundled with the home edition of Microsoft Office.
The Venue 8 Pro comes in only one configuration.
This is an inexpensive but capable tablet — it’s quite possibly the best 7-inch Android model available. It’s Google’s flagship tablet, and the company has put a lot of effort into making it as good as possible.
The Nexus 7 II has a 1920 x 1080 (1080p or Full HD) display, a 5MP rear camera, and a 1.2MP one on the front. The tablet runs the very latest version of Android on a 1.4GHz quad-core processor.
It connects to Google Play, where users can easily buy apps of all kinds. On the downside, it does not have a removable memory card slot, so there’s no way to add additional storage capacity.
The Nexus 7 II with 16GB of internal storage is $230, while one with twice that capacity is $30 more.
Learn more about this tablet in our Google Nexus 7 II Review.
#3 Apple iPad mini ($300)
Although Apple introduced a new version of its mid-size tablet this fall, it kept the older one around and dropped the price a bit. This makes the device more appealing to those who might be giving it as a gift, especially to a teenager.
The original iPad mini has a 7.9-inch, 1024 x 760 screen. It uses an older Apple A5 processor, but is still capable of handling the latest version of Apple’s operating system, iOS 7. It has front- and rear-facing cameras but no memory card slot.
It connects to iTunes and the App Store for movies, music, and software of all kinds.
The first-gen iPad mini is available in only one configuration, with 16GB of built-in storage.
Find out more in our Apple iPad mini Review.
Amazon includes high-end hardware in its tablets, even this mid-range ones. That’s this device’s 7-inch touchscreen has a 1920 x 1200 resolution, giving it a very high pixel density: 323 ppi.
It uses a 2.2 GHz quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM to run Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito”, Amazon’s own modified version of Google Android 4.3.
The Kindle Fire HDX sstarts at $230 for a model with 16GB of storage, while a 32GB is $270, and the 64GB one is $310. No version has a memory card slot, so there’s no way to extend the built-in memory capacity.
This model makes our “Best Of” list for offering decent specs and performance at a surprisingly low cost: $90. Many of the tablets that sell for near that pricepoint are junk, but not this one.
The Sero 7 Lite has a 1024 x 600 display, and runs Android 4.1 on a 1.6GHz dual-core processor, with 4GB of internal storage.
Like its more expensive rivals, it can access the Google Play store for software, eBooks, and more.
Read our Hisense Sero 7 Lite Review to learn more about this very inexpensive tablet.