The whole world revolves around money. But money can’t buy happiness. What we have there is two universally accepted old sayings that contradict each other without leaving much room in the middle. So which one’s true after all?
How about neither? If you’re a geek like me (and you won’t be here otherwise), I’m sure you can find pleasure in things that don’t require to pay an arm and a leg and therefore make you, pardon my French, money’s little bitch.
At the same time though, the tablets I’m going to tell you about, which can make you happy beyond your wildest dreams, can’t be scored without a little bit of dough. Namely, a Benjamin, give or take.
Without further adieu, I thus give you the top five Android tablets up for grabs for 100 bucks or less. Top five tabs that are manufactured by companies you’ve actually heard of or should be hearing of starting now.
And I don’t mean obscure China-based clone makers that are trying to start over and build a new reputation, but instead genuine businesses legitimately on the rise or already among the industry’s top dogs.
5. Hisense Sero 7 Lite
I know, the name Hisense probably doesn’t ring many bells or inspire a lot of trust, especially upon hearing the company works out of China. But so do Lenovo, Huawei or ZTE and I don’t see you giving them such a hard time.
Besides, Hisense has never had any sort of involvement in Shanzhai, aka the booming pirated brands and goods Asian business, and its $13 billion 2012 revenue proves the company is here to stay. Plus, they have quite the reputation in Europe when it comes to white goods and they’re a state-owned enterprise.
Now, about one of their first meaningful Western tablet efforts. This is called the Sero 7 Lite and its one fatal flaw is it’s only available via Walmart stateside. Other than that, I dare, nay double dare you to find anything wrong with this 7-inch beauty.
Up for grabs for a measly 89 bucks, the Sero offers everything you could hope for in that budget: a dual-core CPU (clocked at 1.6 GHz), 1 gig of RAM, microSD support, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, full Google Play access, Wi-Fi and mini HDMI connectivity.
4. Ematic EM63
Only launched roughly 24 hours ago, the EM63 looks a lot like the Sero 7 from a technical standpoint, but it’s both cheaper, at $85, and easier to score, through Amazon and soon enough a number of other retailers.
Plus, if you’re still not comfortable with buying a slate from a relatively low-profile Chinese manufacturer, you’ll be ecstatic to hear Ematic is based in California and has an expertise in the tech world of close to two decades.
Bottom line, this is another name you probably haven’t heard of yet, but should remember it for time to come. As for the EM63, it’s equipped with a run-of-the-mill 7-inch 1,024 x 600 pix res screen, runs Android 4.1 out the box and packs dual-core speed and 1 GB RAM.
3. Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet
It may be older than its two contenders so far, having seen daylight two full years ago, but it definitely has the edge when it comes to brand recognition and awareness, coming from a suffering yet respected name in the tech game.
In terms of hardware, the Nook Tab is lacking in a number of departments, like connectivity, where HDMI is missing, but in others it completely blows the Hisense and Ematic out of the water. For instance, it comes with 16 GB of on-board storage in a version that only costs $99.95 nowadays.
Remember though, the Nook doesn’t technically run Android, but a fork of Google’s OS, which is a little clunky and dusty, as it’s based on 2.3 Gingerbread.
2. Lenovo IdeaTab A1000
Now don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Lenovo. And while the IdeaTab A1000 is pretty obviously light years behind what they call powerhouses, it at least comes with the company’s guaranteed solid build and fairly premium looks.
On the not so bright side, it’s only been a few months since Lenovo rolled this bad boy out, so it’s a little difficult to find it for under $100. Amazon, for instance, currently sells it for $99.99, but my guess is that’s part of a limited-time deal only and it will all go back up to $120 in no time.
What’s clear is that if you’re in the market for a dirt-cheap 7-incher and happen to find this thing around the $100 mark, you should go for it. Granted, it only packs 8 GB of on-board storage and the dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU is not that hot. Yet the looks, pre-loaded Android 4.1 (upgradeable to 4.2), 3,500 mAh battery and 1 GB RAM make it a great overall buy.
1. Asus MeMo Pad ME172V
And the award for best sub-$100 Android tablet goes to the first-gen MeMo Pad, cooked up in the same laboratories as Google’s Nexus 7. Included on our list of best all-around small slates, the ME172V probably needs no introduction, with the sole catch blocking a possible purchase being the cheapest model, available for $90, is… pink.
Meanwhile, the white and grey versions go for $105, which is not all that expensive when you think about it. More specifically, when you pit the Asus slate against the IdeaTab A1000 and see the former has an extra 8 gigs of storage, much bigger battery and even better looks, with a skinnier profile and obvious N7 design nods. Bottom line, you can’t do much better than this at such a low price.
Did we forget anything? Include something on the list that wasn’t worth the recognition? What’s your personal top five? Or top three? Let us know down below.