With the holidays in full swing, we’ve put together a list of tablets that are sure to please without breaking the bank.
These are devices that make good gifts for anyone looking for tablet for casual use, like web access, email, social networking, and light games.
There’s an array of manufacturers and operating systems on this list, and all cost less than $300… some much less.
Those looking for good deals shouldn’t miss our related list of the Best Black Friday Tablet Deals 2015: iPad, Android, and Windows.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7
There aren’t many full size tablets that fall into this price range, but the Galaxy Tab A 9.7 does. This is a budget version of the more powerful and expensive Galaxy Tab S2 9.7.
Its 9.7-inch screen is only 1024 x 768, giving it a low pixel density: 131 ppi. The tablet also offers just a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, though there is a microSD memory card slot for adding more storage. While some the specs are definitely basic, the overall appearance of the device is professional and the battery life is outstanding.
This tablet pairs quite well with any of this company’s phones, like the Galaxy S6. There are built-in advantages for those who have a Samsung phone to also get a tablet from the same company – they come with an app designed to make it easy to move files between the two devices, for example.
A version with 16GB of storage is $299.99, while a 32GB one comes in at $329.99.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 Review to learn more.
Apple iPad mini 2
Although Apple has introduced two newer versions of its mid-size tablet since the debut of the iPad mini 2, this model is still around for just $269. This makes the device more appealing to those who might be giving it as a gift, especially to a teenager.
The second-generation iPad mini has a 7.9-inch, 2048 x 1536 screen with a 324 ppi pixel density. It uses an older Apple A7 processor, but is still capable of handling the latest version of Apple’s operating system, iOS 9.1.
Those who have a recent iPhone will see definite advantages to getting an iPad, as Apple included features to let users of its phones easily switch tasks to tablets, and even make and answer calls calls on the iPad.
This version of the iPad mini is available with 1GB of storage for $269 or with 32 GB of built-in storage. for $319. Adding 4G LTE support adds $130 to each of these.
Our Apple iPad mini 2 Review has much more detail on this device.
Lenovo TAB 2 A8-50
Many people buy 7-inch tablets because they have such low pricetags. Lenovo is hoping to draw in customers with an 8-inch model that sells for a price typical of smaller devices: just $129.
But that doesn’t mean the Lenovo Tab 2 A8-50 is completely bare bones; it has a 1280 x 800 screen with a 189 ppi pixel density, front-facing speakers, a 1.3 GHz quad-core 64-bit processor, and Android 5.0 Lollipop. Its 16GB of storage can be supplemented with microSD cards.
Its combination of fairly good performance, decent screen, and low price make this an attractive option for those looking for a mid-size tablet for a range of uses.
Read our Lenovo TAB 2 A8-50 Review to go in-depth.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 or Galaxy Tab 4 8.0
Samsung is the premier maker of Android tablets, so it’s not surprising that it offers a range inexpensive models. This includes one with a 7-inch display for $179.99 and another with an 8-inch display for $239.99. The internal components of these are nearly identical, so the only real difference is the size of the display.
The screens on both have a 1280 x 800 resolution, so the 7-inch one has a 216 pixel density and the 8-inch one’s is 189 ppi
With a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor from Marvel running Android 4.4.2, these are fairly average tablets, with decent screens and acceptable performance. Naturally, they have all the expected components on a typical Android device, like dual cameras and a microSD memory card slot.
Don’t miss our Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 and Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 Review
Dell Venue 8 Pro
Dell’s Venue 8 Pro has been on the market for over a year, but that doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. Instead, it has just made it a better deal: it debuted at $300, but it’s now going for $179.
This tablet has an 8-inch, 1280 x 800 screen with a 189 ppi. While a bit low, the display is usable.
It comes with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to Windows 10. This gives it access to desktop-class apps, including a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal.
The Venue 8 Pro is powered by a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. Anyone with a need for specialty desktop apps, or who finds Android and iOS too limiting, should consider this model.
Our Dell Venue 8 Pro Review gives an in-depth look at this device.
Amazon Fire (2015)
It’s hard to find a good tablet for under $100, but the new Amazon Fire has an acceptable featureset for half that: just $50. In fact, some early holiday sales have slashed it down to $35. That’s a flat-out steal.
The 7- inch display has a 1024 x 600 resolution, giving it a pixel density of just 169. It’s 1.3GHz quad-core processor gives it marginal performance. It runs a modified version of Android that’s closely tied to Amazon’s ecosystem.
While this is obviously not a great tablet, it’s probably the best available for only $50.
Get more by reading our Amazon Fire (2015) Review.
Nextbook Flexx 8
Windows tablets used to be among the most expensive, but prices dropped dramatically in 2014 as Microsoft made a version of Windows 8.1 free to manufacturers to put on devices. A prime example of this is the Nextbook Flexx 8, which costs just $100.
It has an 8-inch, 1280 x 800, 167 ppi screen, and the tablet debuted with Windows 8.1 running on a 1.3 GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor — an upgrade to Windows 10 has been promised by Nextbook. There’s a 32GB of storage and a microSD card slot to add more.
Like the Amazon offering on this list, this is a fine computer as long as one keeps firmly in mind that it costs under $100, and so doesn’t expect it to look or perform like a high-end model.
Read our Nextbook Flexx 8 Review to get the details.