Top 5 Best Tablets under $300 (Updated for 2014)
Top 5 Best Tablets under $300
If your budget for buying a new tablet is in the $200-$300 range, then you're at the right place. Here's a list of feature rich tablets with positive reviews that cost under $300. These tablets are ideal for surfing the web, video chatting (for example, with Skype), playing games (Angry Birds and more), reading books, watching movies, listening to music, editing photos and documents, reading email, and more.
All of the tablets on this page are WiFi only and cost less than $300 without a contract. Some of them have versions that can also connect to cellular networks and/or purchased with a contract through AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile etc.
I feel like I am in the future. I would have loved to have a tablet when I was a kid. They are so lightweight and speedy these days that they can replace a laptop or desktop for many tasks. In the evening, my family often hangs out in the living room, laying on the couch or in the recliner, using our tablets in complete relaxation.
Related article: Best Tablet for Kids 2013 - For Toddlers through Teens
1) Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (10.1-Inch, White)
This tablet comes in as the best tablet for under $300 for several reasons.
Most notably, it's a large screen, 10.1" inches, while all of the other tablets in this price range are only 7 or 8 inches. The difference in viewing area between a 7" and 10" screen is about about 40%. That makes a big difference when watching a movie or reading websites. The downside is a decrease in portability, but it's thin and can fit in many medium sized purses and shoulder bags.
The second reason that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 is at the top of my list is because it's a Samsung. My family owns a couple of Samsung tablets and I use a Samsung phone and my experience is that Samsung software is better than most competitors. Samsung tablets have extra features like multi window feature for true multitasking, kids mode, universal remote control ability, and more. Some people call Samsung's features "bloatware" but I think they actually improve the Android experience. Furthermore, memory is not an issue with this tablet. It has a microSD clot which allows you to add up to 64GB (currently, a 64gb card costs about $30, and is more space then you probably will need). An extra bonus is Samsung's agreement with Dropbox which gives you 50gb of free storage on the "cloud" which is great for storing photos.
Furthermore, this device runs Android 4.4 Kit Kat OS, which is the latest version, and it has a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor. It has all that you would expect from a top line tablet: Rear and Front Cameras, GPS, Bluetooth, and a 1280 x 800 Pixel touchscreen.
2) Kindle Fire HDX - New Version of Amazon's Tablet, with Impressive Features
This is a tablet designed for HD video. The 7" screen has a resolution of 1920x1200, which is a pixel density of 323. That's more resolution than most other tablets in the same price range. Plus, it has dual speakers with Dolby Audio, so that you can experience good movie sound too. The fast quad core processor and the dual band antenna help to create a smooth experience all of the time.
It's great for novices because of its "Mayday" button. Maybe you've heard about it? If not, just know that you get fast customer service when you press it. The tech support agent can see your screen and walk you through how to do things. They can draw on your screen to show you exactly what to do. I can't tell you how many times I've been on the phone with someone who's having computer problems and they try to describe their screen to me... It just doesn't work out well.
Amazon has a huge selection of movies, books, and games that you can enjoy on your Kindle Fire HDX. Many movies and TV shows are included with Prime. For an extended kids selection, you can get unlimited Kindle FreeTime for just $2.99/month. It has parental controls and thousands of educational titles. Now there's even a Kids Edition Kindle Fire HD that comes with a protective case and a 2 year worry free guarantee. If it gets broken, Amazon replaces it for free.
Prefer a bigger screen?
A bigger screen makes viewing movies better, and is also a big plus for anyone with poorer eyesight! Thinking of getting a tablet for Grandpa and Grandma? Consider this new, larger Kindle Fire HD.
3) Dell Venue 8 Pro 32 GB Tablet (Windows 8.1)
The may be the best tablet for students and for business because it runs Windows 8 and has Windows Office so you can edit word documents on the go. You can use the apps you already use on your PC. Dell Venue 8 Pro
This tablet has good specs. It has an 8 inch high resolution IPS screen (WXGA 1280 x 800). That's the same resolution as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 but because it's two inches smaller, the pixel density is higher so it should appear sharper. IPS screens also generally have good viewing angles. It runs on an Intel® Atom™ processor Z3740D (2MB Cache, up to 1.8GHz Quad-Core). This really is a powerhouse.
A word about Windows though. There are many tablets with Windows on it, like the Microsoft Surface, and the prices have been dropping across the board. However, if you decide to buy a Windows tablet, you should be aware that there is a difference between Windows RT and Windows 8. Windows 8 tablets run all of the software you can run on a typical Windows computer. Windows RT can only run special apps. Given Microsoft's history of abandoning their products, I am hesitant to buy a tablet that runs the RT version. For many more details about the differences, see this PC World article.
4) Apple iPad Mini
I admit that I am not an Apple fan, but my Mom is. She uses them to write email to me and finds it easier than using the computer. She also uses them for her work with disabled children. My young nephew also uses an iPad and when given the choice between watching YouTube videos on it and watching Sprout TV, the YouTube videos win every time.
Apple has traditionally been more expensive than Android, but fortunately for budget shoppers, there is now an Apple iPad Mini that retails for under $300 without a contract (wifi only).
5) Asus Google Nexus 7 Tablet - Quad-core Tegra 3 Processor, Android 4.1
This is a real rival to the Kindle Fire HDX. They both have the same resolution and pixel density, and they both sell for about the same price.
Since this is Google's very own tablet, it features the Android operating system without any extra software. It has all of the Google apps that you would expect - Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, Hangouts and Google Now - and none of the third party stuff. This can be good and bad. There won't be any Amazon ads or pre-installed apps that you can't uninstall. And the Google Play store is huge. You can download apps, movies, music, books, and magazines from there. There are a lot of free apps, but you will typically have to pay for movies, magazines, and music. Although you can get Google All Access, unlimited music, for $9.99 a month, but there's no equivalent to Amazon Prime and you can't watch Amazon prime video on this tablet.
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Some of these tablets are WiFi only.
This can be both an advantage and disadvantage.
The advantage to this is that you don't need a cell phone data plan nor a contract to use the tablet.
The disadvantage is that you need to be in an area that has a WiFi network that you can connect to.
To create a home WiFi network, all you need is a wireless router and an internet connection.
Many cafes, airports, libraries, hotels, and public places have free WiFi connections.
Another option is that if you have a smartphone with a data plan, you may be able to connect to the internet through your phone. For example, I own the Samsung Galaxy S 4G cell phone and in the wireless settings there is something called "Mobile AP" which turns my phone into a wifi hotspot. Other cell phones may have a way to tether the tablet with bluetooth. If you have an Android phone, check the "Wireless and Network" settings. Or, refer to your owner's manual.