“Budget” doesn’t have to mean cheap: 5 good tablet picks for 2015

Depending on where you are, you can’t always tote a laptop around or even be able to afford one. The good news is that tablets can do most of what you need; you can watch movies, send an e-mail or write a letter.

But not all tablets are the same. Some, like the iPad, cost over $300 and for most people that’s just too much to spend. Luckily, there are a few budget picks out there that are low-priced, but certainly not “cheap tablets”.

Dell Venue 7 ($99.99)

This 7” tablet runs Android’s Kit Kat operating system with a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom processor, has 16GB of internal memory, and a microSD card slot that will hold up to 64GB of whatever you choose. It has a no-fingerprint coating and comes in red or black, but there are other colored cases available. The battery lasts about eight hours while surfing the ‘Net.

There aren’t many pre-loaded apps on it, which is good; there’s no sense in taking up space with stuff you don’t need. It has a light sensor that adjusts the screen for brightness depending on where you are, and it has two cameras—one on the front, and one on the back. The front one isn’t that good, but the camera on the back works just fine. It isn’t the thinnest or the lightest tablet, but it does most things very well with only an occasional hiccup with large files or apps.

HP Slate 7 Plus ($99.99)

This is a pretty basic tablet, but it does have an ARM Cortex A7 quad-core processor that will run just about anything you can throw at it. It runs Google Android’s Jelly Bean OS and has a microSD slot to expand its memory to up to 32GB—which is good because it only has 8GB of internal storage. Its battery lasts about 5.5 hours between charges.

The 7’ screen has a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels; not great, but not bad at all for a tablet under $100. It has 1GB of RAM, but this really isn’t a gaming machine. For the basics plus watching a video now and again, it’s excellent.

Dragon Touch A93 ($70.00 on Amazon new)

Dragon Touch’s A93 tablet has a 9” screen and 1024 x 600 resolution, which is fine for almost anything you need to do. It also has an ARM Cortex A7 quad-core chip running things, so it’s fast enough; if there’s a problem, it’s that it only has 512MB of RAM where most tablets have at least 1GB. But as long as you’re only running one or two apps, you shouldn’t notice a problem.

It has 8 GB of internal memory, but has a microSD slot for up to 32GB; it also weighs in at just over one pound. Keep in mind that big programs won’t do well on this machine, though.

NeuTab N10 ($94.99)

This tablet has one of the largest screens out there with a 10.1” screen. The resolution is still a basic 1024 x 600, but it also comes with a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 16GB of internal storage with a microSD slot for more storage, and even Bluetooth.

The bad news? Both front-facing and rear cameras aren’t that good, although most reviewers found Skype seems to work just fine with them. The battery also only lasts about 3-4 hours, and the plastic case could be stronger. Put it in a solid leather case and it should be just fine.

Dragon Touch A1X Plus ($109.99)

The second Dragon Touch entry on the list gets here because of a quad-core chip, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot for up to 32GB, and even an FM radio option (although you have to plug headphones in to use it). It streams movies and games well, has a mini HDMI port, and runs Android Kit Kat 4.4.

As with many budget tablets, the cameras aren’t so hot. But that’s the price you pay when purchasing something for less than $200; on most budget machines, it’s the cameras. Still, they do what they’re supposed to, and Skype works just fine with them.

Not everyone can tote around a computer everywhere they go. But by picking carefully, a good budget tablet device can do almost everything a person needs to do until they get back to the office or home.

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