No matter how big your phone’s display gets stretched, there’s simply no beating a tablet for sheer comfort, especially when watching video or reading for extended periods. These entry models might not be competing for land speed records or design awards, but they’re capable and convenient, and still offer plenty of bang for not many bucks.
Acer Iconia One 7 B1
Acer crammed a lot under the hood of this mini-tablet: a 720pHD IPS LED backlit display, a solid dual-core processor, a seven-hour battery life, a pair of speakers, and a micro-SD slot to pump storage up to 16GB. As with many Android devices, it runs a dated version of the OS (4.3) and there’s no guarantee it’ll get updated. But for most users, it’s a non-issue functionally — a liability more than offset by such a steep discount. [$90; amazon.com]
Amazon Fire Kids Edition 7-inch
Tablets have already replaced TVs as the ultimate babysitter, and Amazon’s purpose-built Fire is unmatched for that purpose. It includes a gorgeous IPS display, a modest 8 gigs of storage, plus a micro-SD slot for up to 128GB. It also features a plastic frame tough enough to stand up to junior’s most nerve-shattering tantrum. When he decides to throw it down a flight of stairs, Amazon will replace the tablet for free, no questions asked. [$100; amazon.com]
Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6
The online superstore’s line of tablets are really wonderful, with a caveat: They run a custom version of Android OS that forces you to use Amazon’s own app store and apps. Luckily, that’s not a hindrance for most popular apps, and otherwise the Fire HD 6 has the best specs of any model here: a knockout HD resolution (at 252 ppi) display, a husky quad-core processor, 8GB of storage, and unlimited cloud storage of any Amazon content. If your tablet needs are simply media consumption — movies, TV, ebooks, music — it’s a no-brainer, and it fits in a coat-pocket to boot. [$100; amazon.com]
Barnes and Noble Nook HD+ 16 GB
The beleaguered bookseller gave up on its respected tablet business a couple years ago (it outsourced the brand to Samsung), but fortunately, factory refurbished models of its excellent Android tablet are readily available. Its whopping 9-inch display does 1080p HD beautifully, and its dual-core processor handles video with aplomb. The meager 8GB of storage can get a boost up to a reasonable 64GB via micro-SD. Caveat: Unlike most tablets, this one has no cameras onboard, so obnoxious coffee shop Skyping is off the menu. [$94; amazon.com]
HP STREAM 7
If Windows OS is your game, HP’s pocket-friendly tablet is an insanely budget-friendly way to tote essential data on the go. Its specs have been stripped down to get to that price point — the cameras are token, and battery life is on par with a laptop. However, it’s powerful enough for fiddling with documents or to watch video. And when paired with a keyboard, it makes for a reasonable laptop alternative that’s about half the weight of your regular backbreaker, at a fraction of the cost. [$80; officedepot.com]
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