Top UK Cheap Tablet Computers

Overview of the lowest cost tablet PCs available for the UK market

As the number of tablet PCs available expands, prices are falling. Competition, particularly for Android tablets, means that you can now pick up an Android tablet for £200 and still get a very good performance.

At this price you won’t get the very latest version of Android and you won’t get every single feature that premium tablets offer. However, if you’re prepared to live with a few compromises, you will get a great value tablet computer that may well be perfectly adequate for your needs.

If you’re prepared to investigate the open source community on the web, limited function out-of-the-box can also be enhanced on these tablets. Here you can find free upgraded software packages to install – although check before you void your warranty.

Below I’ve picked out the best selling tablets, at a low price point, that still deliver a good user experience.

Cheap Tablet PCs Available Now

Advent Vega (Wi-Fi Only)

Price Guide £200 (approximate)

Advent Vega Tablet

What do you get?

We won’t cover the full spec again as you can see the run down in our Advent Vega review but in summary the Advent Vega brings you:

  • 10.1-inch tablet running Android 2.2
  • Capacitive multitouch screen – this means you have a responsive screen that reacts to swipes and prods and is very capable of providing a strong user experience.
  • Flash compatibility – it’s capable of playing web content delivered using the Flash technology – this includes web video, games and animation.
  • Other specs also allow you to use the WebCam for video chat, output high-definition video to a TV, 6 hours battery life, MicroSD slot to extend the memory and a USB Port.
  • Check out the full Advent Vega specification.

What are the compromises?

  • An earlier version of Android more designed for smartphones than tablets. This means not all apps are designed for this format and that can lead to gaps on the screen or blocky icons. Also, apps and games that are becoming available for Android Honeycomb may not work on the older versions of Android.
  • A weaker processor – it’s still perfectly powerful enough to handle the earlier version of Android, but you may get occasional lags as it switched between screens. It can struggle with more complex apps and games, and high-definition video may not play smoothly. Most of the time though it’s fine.
  • Shorter battery life – you’ll still get 5-6 hours of video playback on a single charge before the battery dies but not the 8-10 hours of premium tablets. You can buy external battery packs though that would extend the period you can use the device for.
  • Android Market isn’t available directly on the tablet out of the box – you’ll need to find it on the web and manually install it. This is all pretty straight forward to do though.

Archos 101 (Wi-Fi Only)

Price Guide £200 for 8GB version and £230 for 16GB version (approximate)

Archos 101 Android Tablet

What do you get?

  • Pretty much the same as the Advent Vega but you also get access to the Archos AppsLib which is a library of apps that work on the Archos 101. However the range is still quite limited. You’ll again need to get hold of the Android Market app and manually load it onto the device to open up the full range of Android Market apps. Check out the full Archos 101 review.
  • You can also find out more from people who own this tablet in the Archos 101 user reviews.

What are the compromises?

  • Exactly the same as the Advent Vega compromises again.

Archos 70 250 GB Internet Tablet (Wi-Fi Only)

Price Guide £209 for 250GB version (approximate)

Archos 70 Internet Tablet PC

This one creeps in at a whisker over the £200 but well worth a mention as it’s a very popular 7-inch tablet PC running Android 2.2 with some great features.

What do you get?

  • 7-inch tablet running Android 2.1 (free upgrade available to Android 2.2).
  • High-resolution capacitive touch-screen – this tablet has been specifically designed as a portable media player so high-definition video is a delivered well on this screen.
  • Up to 250GB storage space for films, documents, music and other files – that’s lots of space for your media.
  • 1 GHz Powerful processor – capable of speedy web browsing, 3D games, high-definition video.
  • USB and MicroSD ports so you can load files via a memory stick or microSD card. Alternatively you can also attach peripheral devices such as a mouse or keyboard.
  • Check-out the full specification and user reviews.

What are the compromises?

Although this is a 7-inch rather than 10-inch tablet – the compromises are similar to the Advent Vega and Archos 101.

  • You’ve got a slightly outdated version of Android, battery life is pretty comparable and again the processor occasionally struggles to deal with the load and crashes.
  • It’s Wi-Fi only so no 3G network directly available but you can tether it to your mobile phone to use the mobile phone signal to get online.
  • Again, you’ll have to manually install Android Market if you want access to the full range of Android apps.

Tabtech M009S (Wi-Fi Only)

Price Guide £80 (approximate)

TabTech M009S 2GB Tablet PC

I’ve included this one as it’s even cheaper and the user reviews have been so positive despite the fact on paper the specification looks weaker. As you’re paying less, it’s not going to be comparable to the other devices above, but again this may be fine if the tasks that you want to complete on a tablet are covered.

What do you get?

  • A 7-inch tablet that’s basic in build, design and performance.
  • Runs Android 2.2 and has a resistive touch-screen.
  • It has access to the full range of Android Market apps, an adapter to give you USB ports and a wired Ethernet internet connection, a microSD card slot to supplement the limited 2GB internal memory and a whole list of apps already pre-loaded.
  • It will perform basic tasks relatively competently such as web browsing, playing video and music and streaming video.
  • About as good as you can expect for a tablet at this low price.
  • Check-out more the full specification.

What are the compromises?

It’s a totally different experience to the tablets above.

  • The resistive touch screen means it’s not as responsive as other tablets and the screen is fairly dull in comparison.
  • The weaker processor also means it can be a bit laggy to respond to taps and can crash from time-to-time.
  • Apps and games work but are slow to load and can stall.
  • You can watch web video via the YouTube app but Flash videos on websites stutter or fail to play.
  • You get what you pay for, it works but the experience is frustrating at times.

Other Cheap Tablet PCs

Outside of these options that are many others but you’re then making significant compromises and will be giving up the capacitive screen for a resistive screen (as per the Tabtech M009S). The resistive screens are considered older technology and they generally need a much heavier prod to get them to do what you want. You’re also looking at weaker processors that can be sluggish and struggle with more of the fundamental tasks a slate is designed for.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Tablet PC

If you’re prepared to pay a bit more, the Samsung tablet – Galaxy Tab (P1010) starts at around £250 with the Wi-Fi only version. This is the next step up and gives you a more powerful tablet and impressive multi-touch screen to play with.

Low Cost Tablet PCs Coming Soon

The Andy Pad was recently featured on What Tablet PC as it’s a very interesting forthcoming tablet PC that should achieve a £129 price for the base model (7-Inch tablet with resistive screen) and approximately £179 for the “Pro” version (capacitive screen included). Check out the full Andy Pad specification.

Cheap Tablet PC Buying Advice

There are tablet PCs available below the £100 mark but you’re making a big step down in quality and though the Tabtech M009S does provide an okay experience for the price, I’d recommend you stick with a tablet that offers a capacitive screen and a processor that can deal with apps and games without falling over.

The best buy out of those in the list above is the Archos 101, narrowly piping the Advent Vega on the basis that Archos are a more established tablet PC manufacturer and it has access to more apps, without having to do too much fiddling with it.

 

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Comments

  1. John says:

    Thanks for the list but in my opinion, it would be best to purchase tablets that have a decent price rather than getting the cheap ones. Most of the tablets in this list have the feature of a smartphone. Tablets like Asus Transformer and Apple’s iPad have more functionality which users can enjoy and take advantage of.

    • Hi John, thanks for your comment. It’s a fair opinion that you express, ultimately the more you pay, the better experience you get – the ASUS Transformer or iPad are 2 of the best. Some people are happy to make some compromises to keep the price down, others will be more interested in the highest quality experience.

  2. James says:

    Thanks for these reviews,
    I’m currently doing a university correspondence course over the internet and living abroad – the books I have to read are all in PDF format and I’m having to read them on my netbook and pc. So I’m looking out for a device that would be more practical and which I can take on the bus. All I want it to do is read PDFs and browse the web and have a battery life of a few hours. I don’t need gaming or video. Your reviews are very helpful, but you don’t mention much about PDF reading.

    What would you recommend for me? I want something cheap that just does the jobs I need.

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for your questions. In terms of viewing PDFs, this is something that all these tablets will offer but you’re correct that some will be better than others. The reasons relate to the quality of the screen (and how much glare they give off) plus processor power. For example you could go for a very cheap tablet such as the NATPC M009S, it’s basic but would allow you to read PDFs. However the screen is resistive so needs a good prod to navigate and also is subject to a lot of glare so you may struggle to view it in bright sunlight. The processor power is low so it won’t react as quickly as other tablets if you’re navigating through PDFs. Similarly web browsing is slower and battery life short.

      The next grade up would be something like a Blackberry Playbook which have just been reduced in price to around £170. It’s a 7-inch tablet with decent processor and screen so will happily deal with PDFs, web browsing and has a decent battery life. The screen is a responsive capacitive screen so deals well with taps/swipes of a finger. There’s also an operating system upgrade due soon that means its an even more complete tablet if you don’t have a Blackberry phone.

      If you’re looking for a larger 10-inch tablet then this gives you a bit more screen to play with and so you text is a bit easier to read and you can get tablets such as the Archos 101 and Advent Vega. These are around £200 and offer everything you’re looking for – PDFs will be fine, web browsing snappy enough and decent battery life.

      With any of the Playbook, Archos or Advent Vega tablets, you’ll also get a range of other features such as the ability to upload music, video and apps if you ever decide you want these.

      One final option to consider is an Amazon Kindle ereader. I haven’t covered this as it’s not a tablet and it won’t cover web browsing but the e-ink screen makes it easy to read on for books and it will deal with PDFs. They’re fairly cheap and have a great battery life.

      Hope this helps, I’ve included some links in this reply so you can quickly access the full reviews of the tablets I’ve listed here.

      Thanks
      Ted

      • John Hitchens says:

        Take care with the Kindle I have similar PDF requirements as James with lots of mathematical symbols and rumour has it that the Kindle will not render these properly.

  3. Roy says:

    Useful review as the prices are still the same 6 months on…

    Although the old version of the Tabtech M009S is still on sale, there is a newer version of it with Capacitive screen, 1.2 Ghz CPU, Gingerbread 2.3, flash 11.1, HD video for £99.99 at Amazon.

    The new touchscreen, faster CPU and Android 2.3 should address the previous issues – still not as polished/powerful as a Playbook/Kindle Fire but much cheaper, well worth the extra £20+ over the previous version imho.

    • Great shout Roy, this could also be another option for James. I haven’t got my hands on the M009S upgrade yet so I’ll have to see if I can get hold of one to do an updated review. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Very useful post for me :) i am totally messed up what tablet i need to choose, this post really helpful for me. Thank you tedsumms.

    • Hi Salkrishna, glad the post was useful for you and if you have any other questions then please let me know. Thanks Ted.

  5. A colleague of mine at work has got the ASUS tablet.I am a massive fan of Apple products and would take some convincing to buy something else however he was playing an emulator on there of GTA3 and it was really impressive, with the detachable keyword it is almost a touch screen laptop.

    • Hi Martin, thanks for the comment. I have to admit that Apple make some great products and the new iPad will take gaming in the Apple eco-system to the next level. As you point out, the Asus Prime is quite a different device as it gives a great deal of versatility with the keyboard dock. Please let us know how you get on if you buy a tablet. All the best, Ted

  6. I was unaware that tablet prices even went that low. Of course you get what you pay for, but still sometimes you don’t need all the extra features you pay for.

  7. Bobbo says:

    One point: the market for cheap tablets is changing rapidly and at the time of writing you can get capable 7″ tablets with ICS & capacitive screens for well under £100 from the usual online stockists.

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