There are plenty of cheap tablets today that perform well and make an excellent gift. Remember that most of these were top of the line cutting edge tablets just a year ago.
Barnes and Noble Nook sports a 7-inch touch screen with 1,024 x 600 pixel resolution. B&N offers slew of apps, magazines and books (over 2 million titles). It has a WiFi to connect to the internet wherever it is available. Web browser supports flash and Nook is well optimized to play Hulu plus or Netflix video. Nook’s 1GHz dual-core TI Omap 4 processor with 1GB of RAM enable multitasking, video playing, reading, web browsing and some game playing as well.
Base model comes with 8GB storage, but only 6GB is available. I recommend to opt in a larger 16GB storage or expand it via microSD by up to 32GB. Barnes and Noble Nook sells for about $159 today.
Amazon Kindle Fire tablet also has a 7-inch screen with same 1024 x 600 pixel resolution and 170ppi pixel density. Under the hood you find more than capable 1 GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 with PowerVR SGX540 graphics, but only 512 MB of RAM. Connectivity is limited as there is no bluetooth. There is however Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n for internet connection on Amazon Silk browser. Amazon offers $79.99 per year Prime membership to borrow any book you like, but only one book a month. There is od course free public library books you can pick up as well.
The storage starts at 8GB and you cannot expand it as there is no card slot. There is USB so you could stick in an external hard drive, but that defeats the portability of the tablet.
Kindle Fire 7" with Wi-Fi connectivity and 8 GB of built in storage sells on amazon for $159.
Blackberry Playbook is a well rounded 7-inch tablet with TFT capacitive touchscreen of 600 x 1024 pixel resolution (170ppi) supporting Adobe Flash. There is Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth v2.1. There is a 5MP rear camera that you do not find in any cheap tablet. Camera has 2592×1944 pixels, autofocus and is capable of 1080p video recording.
BB Playbook runs smoothly and responsively thanks to Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 processor with PowerVR SGX540 graphics. There is a Document viewer, as well as Documents To Go to edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Playbook comes with Micro HDMI port to connect it to tv for viewing, or an external storage device. It has a GPS as well. Li-Po 5300 mAh battery is a small powerhouse giving you 10 hours on a charge.
Opt in for larger storage of 32 or 64 GB as there is no card expansion enabled.
When RIM made this premium tablet in summer of last year, the price tag was $399.
Blackberry Playbook 7-Inch Tablet (32GB) with 32GB of storage now sells at amazon for about $175.
Acer Iconia TAB A100 is another 7-inch tablet with popular Android Honeycomb OS. It has GPS, Wifi, Bluetooth, and with HDMI you can connect to your TV to stream your HD videos. Display is multi-touch with 1024 x 600 pixel resolution.
A100 runs on dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip with NVIDIA GeForce graphics and 1GB DDR2 RAM. It has a small 8GB built in storage but you can expand it via MicroSD card by additional 32GB. For ports A100 has Micro USB, USB, and micro HDMI ports. On the front you’ll find 2MP camera and on the back a 5MP camera with autofocus and LED flash. Battery will last about 4 hours.
Acer Iconia TAB A100 (8GB) with 8GB storage sells for $230.
Here is a useful budget tablet specs and price comparison chart courtesy of PCWorld:
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