The tablet market has seen a boom in the last few years, with various models being released in all price ranges. The growth is so phenomenal that tablets form nearly 50% of all PC shipments in Q4 2013. Performance can vary widely from model to model, but as with smartphones, the price reflects the power of the device only to an extent. Even so, if you’re interesting in owning a tablet, you should know that you don’t have to spend too much to get decent model which can do most of your day-to-day tasks like web browsing or multimedia playback. We’ll give you some pointers on how to pick a good tablet and also let you know some of the best tablets to buy under $250.

If you’ve been following us recently, you’ll remember our list of some of the best smartphones to buy under $300, which included some pretty good devices. We’ll try to do the same today with tablets in the hopes that this list will help you choose a decent budget tablet. Also, keep in mind that you might find cheap “no-name” tablets in some stores, but as a general rule, it’s better to stay clear of those, but we’ll discuss this issue in another article. Also, this list is virtually Android-only as we don’t have any iPad (mini) tablet below $300 and there’s no quality 7-inch Windows 8 tablet yet in the market.

Tips on choosing a good budget tablet

When you’re looking for a cheap tablet, it’s pretty important to look at some of the specifications of the device before paying. Just like buying a car, this can give you some rough idea about how well the device might work. This is especially true when you find devices manufactured by lesser known companies.

1. Take your time – If you see a cheap tablet on the shelf with a big “Promotion” or “Sale” on it, don’t buy it on the spot. Chances are you’ll still find it a few hours later. Note down its name and do a quick search and read a review, or search for the most common problems with that model. Chances are someone out there has bought it and has published a review or found that it has problems. Another important part of online research is to see what prices other stores have for the same product.

2. Focus on the specs – These determine (to an extent) how well your cheap tablet will work. Even though today’s devices are pretty powerful and work relatively well, keep in mind that this is not always the case. Don’t get distracted by unimportant things like case material, instead focus on the components which make the thing work: processor, RAM, GPU or battery. Don’t let the salesman trick you with lines like “This tablet has a smaller processor but the screen is 1 inch bigger” because their goal is to sell stuff and aren’t too interested with how pleased you will be by the tablet.

3. Screen size isn’t everything – Price tends to go up proportional to the tablet’s screen size, and while this is an important factor to some, it’s not the defining one. Ask yourself this: is it more important to have screen real-estate or for the tablet to be fast & responsive? Personally, I go for the latter, as zooming in in some instances isn’t that much of a chore. Related to screen size is the resolution, which on bigger tablets must also be higher. If your tablet has 10 inches but low resolution, the images displayed won’t be crisp and the image quality will be poor.

4. Beware of knockoffs – There are cheap alternatives to branded devices, produced by shady companies. They imitate the ‘original’ products, but with lower prices and at the same time, lower build quality. It’s usually easy to spot them, as they are branded with different (sometimes very similar) names and their prices are much lower than you’d expect. Buying such a tablet isn’t a good idea, as there are many ‘original’ tablets which are both cheap and produced with quality components.

Best 7-inch tablets under $250

Google Nexus 7 2013


Google’s second edition of the successful Nexus 7 provides users with even higher performance, but at the same time, keeps this product at a very reasonable price. The tablet’s top notch specs and decent 7-inch screen make it ideal for web browsing and gaming alike. Thanks to its great specs and stylish design, Google managed to create one of the best and most recognizable 7-inch tablets under $250.

Processor: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro / 400MHz Adreno 320 GPU
Storage: 16 GB
Camera: 1.2 MP front facing / 5 MP rear facing
Display resolution: 1920 x 1200
Price: $229 (Note: Price for 16 GB / WiFi version)

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3


Samsung has become a trusted name when it comes to Android gadgets, and their Galaxy Tab line has seen its fair share of devoted fans. While the Tab 2 could have easily entered our list, we went with the net generation which has some improvements over it, but can still fit in our maximum budget of $250. The Galaxy Tab 3 offers decent specs as well as Samsung’s quality components, the only thing we could pick on is the relatively low resolution of the scree.

Processor: 1.2 GHz dual-core
Storage: 8 GB + microSD card slot
Camera: 1.3 MP front facing / 3 MP rear facing
Display resolution: 1024 x 600
Price: $149 (Note: Price offered by Amazon and might change over time)

Kindle Fire HDX 7


Amazon’s own Kindle Fire HDX is the upgraded version of the Kindle Fire HD (hence the ‘X’) which takes the platform to a new level thanks to its powerful hardware and updated software. Although Amazon uses its own ‘Fire OS’, it should be noted that this is customized version of Android with a few things different, like the absence of Google Services such as Google Play Store. But users will still be able to download apps, songs and books from Amazon’s own store.

Processor: 2.2GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU / Adreno 330 GPU
Storage: 16 GB
Camera: Front facing 720p camera / no rear facing camera
Display resolution: 1920×1200
Price: $199 (Note: limited time price. Normal price is $229)

Dell Venue 7


Having pretty good specs and, at least to my eyes, a stylish design, the Dell Venue 7 is a worthy competitor for best tablets under $250. While the device loses some points when it comes to camera resolution, the rest of its specs are pretty good considering its price-range. Also, don’t be concerned about the Intel Atom chip, as it runs almost all the apps on the Play Store without a hitch.

Processor: Intel Atom processor Z2560 / Intel HD Graphics
Storage: 16 GB + microSD card slot
Camera: VGA front facing / 3 MP rear facing
Display resolution: 1280 x 800
Price: $149



You might remember from Computex 2013 that ASUS announced the launch of their powerful yet cheap MemoPad HD tablet. The device has since been released, tested and liked by many users, not only due to its decent performance but also for its oddly low price. The ASUS MeMOPad HD comes in a variety of colors, so users can choose the most appealing one for them and there are two models with varying storage space, but since the device is so cheap, getting the 16 GB version would be the best choice.

Processor: 1.2 GHz quad-core A7
Storage: 16 GB + microSD card slot
Camera: 1.2 MP front facing / 5 MP rear facing
Display resolution: 1280 x 800
Price: $149 (Note: Price for 16 GB version)

HP Slate S7-4200US


If you’re looking for a decent tablet with good specs and at a reasonable price, then the HP Slate S7-4200US should be on your radar as it is a fairly powerful device. While it only has a 0.3 MP VGA front facing camera and 8 GB of storage space, it is still a pretty good choice for a low-budget tablet which doesn’t even pass the $200 mark. In terms of aspect, its design is minimalist with neutral colors, which will appeal to most users.

Processor: 1.3 GHz Quad-Core nVidia Tegra 3
Storage: 8 GB + microSD card slot
Camera: VGA front facing / 5 MP rear facing
Display resolution: 1280 x 800
Price: $159 (Note: Price might change depending on available stock)

EVGA Tegra Note 7


EVGA Tegra Note 7 is a quality alternative for Samsung Galaxy Note 8, with its stylus implementation. Of course there are some compromises made in terms of design, but at $199 there’s not much to complain about. It ships with Android 4.2.2 OS (updatable to Android 4.3) and has a great gaming performance, coupled with good touch experience.

Processor: 1.8Ghz GHz Quad-Core NVIDIA Tegra 4
Storage: 16 GB + microSD card slot
Camera: VGA front facing / 5 MP rear facing
Display resolution: 1280 x 800 IPS
Price: $199

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I often wonder, where is technology heading? What do all of these advances mean for us and for our future? I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know how to use a floppy disk, or how a computer CPU works, but now, until I find an answer to my questions, I’ll keep tracking these advances and show everything I find to those who share my interests.