While the Apple iPad range has brought the idea of tablet technology to the masses, they’re certainly not the only option on the market. And even better, while an iPad 2 on contract is a premium priced piece of kit, there are now plenty of budget options on the shelves. But how do they stack up?
In the simplest terms, it depends what you want from your tablet. As a new gadget the tablet has had a little difficulty defining where it stands in the tech hierarchy, so you need to ask yourself what you’ll be using it for. For example, do you expect it to become a key part of your computing life, or will it spend most of its time on the end of the sofa?
One obvious point to make is if you’re an Apple fan and want to sync up your iPod, Mac, iPhone etc then you’re going to want to go for an iPad. However, the good news is that the earlier versions are now much cheaper to get hold of and are still being supported by Apple in terms of software. Opting for an iPad 2 is going to save you $100, while an original iPad will save even more.
Elsewhere, there are several budget tablets worth considering. If you simply want a glorified e-reader that will also get you online via Wi-Fi and offer media functionality, both the Barnes & Noble Nook and Amazon Kindle Fire have proved hugely popular. You’re not going to get the screen from heaven and the world’s best app choice, but you will only pay around $200 for your device.
Moving a little up the scale are Android-based offerings from the likes of Samsung, HTC and Sony. Google’s Android operating system is a little behind the curve compared to Apple but it’s still got tens of thousands of apps, a simple to use user interface and, best of all, these machines sync very easily with Windows based laptops and PCs.
But our personal favourite right now is the BlackBerry PlayBook. BlackBerry’s troubles have been well documented and they all started around the time of the PlayBook’s ill-fated launch – but what happened? In short, BlackBerry products are known for their fantastic email and messaging functionality. For some reason, manufacturer RIM decided to rush launch its first tablet with this functionality severely lacking: cue terrible sales followed by massive price reductions.
But now those issues have been addressed and a massively discounted PlayBook stands up really well on everything except games and other less business-like apps. For a device you can now pick up for the price of the earlier mentioned Nook or Fire, you’re getting a fantastic device.
So in short, yes – there are plenty of tablets out there at good price points: it just boils down to what you’re looking for and whether it needs to be an Apple!
This is a Guest Post by Chris Marling