A savvy buyer is always on the lookout for the best deals. And with the season approaching for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduations, economy is always prized. That’s why TabletPCReview brings you a list of the six best tablets for their value, priced $300 and under, so that you can more easily find that perfect gift — for yourself, a loved one, or a friend — without breaking the bank.
Although marketed mainly to readers of ebooks, the Nook HD+ provides a surprisingly potent Android tablet for not a lot of money. Boasting a 9-inch 1920 x 1280 display (better than 1080P), 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, and a 9-10 hour battery life, the HD+ has a gorgeous set of hardware.
And though it runs an alternate version of Android OS, since it was released Barnes & Noble added support for Google Play, allowing it full access to all the apps and content available to other Android tablets. Without that it would be an overpowered book reader, but with it, the Nook HD+ is a not-so-small powerhouse, capable of almost anything that more higher-priced Android tablets can do.
The Nook HD+ also provides a nice compromise between a more expensive 10-inch tablet and a relatively cheap 7-inch model: it provides almost the same screen size as a high-end device, and wondeful screen resolution: 256 DPI, very close to the 300 DPI maximum that the eye can see. Even with all its features, the tablet still maintains a price comparable to many of the cheaper and simpler 7-inch tablets that are so popular.
All in all, the HD+ provides both good specs and value for those whose needs are fairly modest.
Read our Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ Review to learn more.
Those looking for something a little smaller, though, might choose the Dell Venue 7. It’s a bit simpler, and has less built-in memory: 16GB instead of 32GB. That said, like the Nook HD+, it does have a microSD card slot, allowing you up to 64GB more if you’re willing to pay the (relatively mild) price.
The Venue 7 is more of a workhorse than a stallion: it doesn’t particularly stand out in any one regard, but over all it’s a well-rounded device that has most of the qualities people look for in a basic tablet.
Its 1280 x 800 screen is good quality for the size. It runs Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) on a 2GHz Intel Atom processor, backed up by 2 GB of RAM, specs that would beggar the high-end tablets of a couple years ago. The 16GB of internal storage is fairly generous for a $150 tablet, and can be expanded with a memory card.
Although while the Venue 7 can’t compete with an iPad or Galaxy Note, it certainly outperforms most of the “budget tablets” available on the market, and makes a reasonable pass at showing that “inexpensive” doesn’t have to mean “cheap.”
Another model by Dell, the Venue 8 Pro isn’t as cheap as some of the devices on this list, but it offers something they can’t: Windows 8.1, an operating system that allows it to run desktop-class applications, including the Venue 8 Pro’s bundled copy of Microsoft Office 2013.
Backing up the Venue’s Windows OS is a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of memory, and a solid 32 GB of storage. It’s a full Windows 8 PC, right there in the palm of your hand. That’s probably overkill for a lot of tablet users… and indespensible for another bunch. Anyone with a need for specialty desktop apps, or who finds Android and iOS too limiting, can kick back and relax with the Venue 8 Pro, which offers desktop-level hardware.
Packing a desktop OS, the Venue 8 Pro doesn’t need much more to recommend it given its price, but it still features a goodly amount of memory and solid other specs. The 8-inch screen is perhaps a little too compact to make it a day-to-day work machine, but for occasional or supplemental use, it combines desktop and tablet functions pretty well.
Our Dell Venue 8 Pro Review gives an in-depth look at this device.
Asus’ entry into the top six comes with a different set of priorities than most of the others on this list. Nearly matching the Venue 8 Pro for price, with less memory and “just” the Android OS, you might mistake it for a lesser value. But it distinguishes itself as one of the only tablets under $300 to feature a full 10-inch display. Combining that extra screen space with a 1920 x 1200 display gives it a whopping 226 pixels per inch of resolution.
The 16GB of memory isn’t huge, but it can be supplemented with a microSD card. And when you add in Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) running on a 1.6GHz intel Atom dual-core processor backed with 2GB of memory, you end up with a big-screen device that is well suited for watching video or playing high-end games.
Although Apple introduced a new version of its mid-size tablet last 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.
While the latest Nexus 7 costs a bit more than typical 7-inch tablets, it does have a few advantages. Sold straight by Google, it’s based on “pure Android,” i.e no skins, alterations, plugins, or preloaded apps jammed in with the Android OS. This means that Nexus users will always be the first to receive operating system updates as they become available, keeping them on the cutting edge.
It also features a stunning 1920 x 1200 pixels packed into just a relatively small area, making it the densest of any display on this list: 323 pixels per inch, putting it above the roughly 300 ppi that the human eye can perceive. Thus you can be assured you’re not going to see a sharper 7-inch screen.
Combined with features like wireless charging, NFC, and quad-core speed, it makes for a powerhouse that will stay relevant and up to date for quite a long time.
Learn more about this tablet in our Google Nexus 7 II Review.