5 Best Tablets Under $200 in 2017

Although tablets are a pretty new technology, they are quickly gaining a foothold in many homes and workplaces due to their light-weight and convenience.

They’re just so much easier to use than laptops or desktops.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8"; 16 GB Wifi Tablet (Smoky...
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop, 8-inch Display. Product Dimensions (inches) 8.20" x 5.43"...
  • Samsung Quad Core Processor, 1.2 GHz
  • 16 GB Flash Memory, 1.5 GB RAM Memory

Tablets are primarily used for entertainment. Whether you’re watching films or reading books, a good tablet can entertain you for hours, and keep your children or spouse happy too.

But the market for tablets is now so flooded that working out which tablets are ‘good’ is becoming harder and harder.

That’s where we come in.

We’ve been looking through a load of tablets priced under $200 this week. We wanted to know which was the best.

After carefully reviewing a number of tablets, we’ve come to the conclusion that the best tablet you can get for under $200 is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-Inch Tablet.

It has great battery life, a quality screen and plenty of functionality as well.

We’ll thoroughly review the Tab A here. While also talking about some of the other budget tablets we’ve been looking at.

How we chose the Best Tablet under $200

In order to work out the best tablet under $200, we had to find out what these budget tablets are typically used for.

Once we’d done that, we could work out how well each tablet allowed you to do these things, and then rank them according to that criteria.

To do this, we surveyed large numbers of budget tablet buyers. We wanted to know what things tablet buyers were interested in prior to purchase, and what features they needed their tablets to have.

They groups we surveyed gave us this list:

  • Functionality
  • Screen Quality
  • Audio
  • Battery Life
  • Durability
  • Once we’d got this list, we started testing all the tablets which met the criteria our buyers had requested.

    We spent hours on them, playing games, browsing the internet and reading books. As well as taking photos on the cameras and giving them a couple of knocks to test their durability.

    The tablets that made it onto our list all performed well according to the aforementioned criteria. And they were definitely the 5 best models we looked at.

    The five Best Tablets under $200

    Here’s a list of the five Best Tablets under $200:

    The most important consideration when choosing the Best Tablet under $200 is functionality

    I’ve written about this before, but the word ‘functionality’ can be quite a confusing term. So just allow me to clear up what exactly I mean.

    When we talked to our focus groups, the thing they were most interested in was the number of features the tablet had and how well it performed them.

    They weren’t exactly asking how much memory or power a unit had, although that’s a part of it. Instead they were more interested in what they could use their tablets for.

    Could they browse the internet quickly, watch movies, listen to music? Did the tablets come with cameras for taking photos and video calling?

    They were interested in that kind of thing.

    As they were talking about really a huge number of different features, we came up with one term to describe what they were looking for ‘functionality’.

    So it just means how many different things you can do with your tablet, and how well it does them.

    A good example of a tablet that isn’t very functional is the original Kindle.

    Don’t get me wrong, the original Kindle was very good at what it did. It had a long battery and it was easy to download books onto.

    But that’s all it was for.

    You couldn’t stream video, play games or browse the internet. It was just an electronic book reader.

    Our focus groups didn’t want that. They wanted something you could be playing games on one minute, and watching films on the next.

    Essentially, they were looking for mini entertainment systems. So that’s what we mean when we talk about how ‘functional’ a tablet is.

    All the tablets we look at here have a high level of functionality. You can browse the internet on them, read books etc.

    Tablets have come a long way since the days of the original Kindle and this list reflects just how much you can do with a good tablet nowadays.

    Even a budget one.

    Other considerations when choosing the Best Tablet under $200

    Screen Quality

    There’s nothing more annoying than watching a movie on a poor quality screen.

    What should be an immersive and thrilling experience, will probably just end up annoying you more than entertaining you. Rather than enjoying a rich plot and storyline, you’ll be frustrated by the fuzzy video and poor quality images.

    This is particularly relevant for tablets because 99% of the time you’re using them, you’re going to be looking at the screen.

    There are some exceptions, if you’re listening to music on headphones, then you’re probably not going to be looking at the screen.

    But in the vast majority of cases, using your tablet will involve watching something on screen.

    With this in mind, it’s very important that your tablet has a good enough resolution, a realistic range of colors, and is large enough to make watching movies and reading books easy and enjoyable.

    If not, you’ll probably end up launching your tablet at the wall.

    Fortunately, all the tablets that made it onto our list have excellent screen quality. So there’s no need to ruin your wallpaper.

    Audio

    Having good quality audio is another essential feature of a good budget tablet.

    We’ve all had the unpleasant experience of using a computer with bad sound. Whether it was too quiet, too noisy, or just unclear, bad sound can seriously ruin your experience.

    This is doubly important for tablets because they’re used primarily for entertainment. Customers use their tablets for watching movies, listening to audiobooks and music.

    So if the sound is poor on their tablet, they won’t enjoy doing any of that, and the tablet will only really be useful for browsing the internet and reading books on.

    So, having bad sound pretty much cuts a tablet’s functionality in half.

    That’s why it’s such an important thing to get right.

    Battery Life

    What really makes tablets great, and separates them from bulkier computers like laptops and desktops, is their portability.

    Tablets tend to be extremely light. Generally they’re physically small too, this means you can easily put them in a bag and take them out with you.

    While this portability is fantastic, to get the most out of it, your tablet needs to have a decent battery life.

    Without that, you’ll likely run out of battery towards the end of every day, and if you’ve bought them for your kids, they’ll constantly be asking you where the charger is too.

    Durability

    Ideally, we’d never drop our tablets.

    We’d never spill anything on them, sit on them, or accidently tread on them while clearing out a room.

    Unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, then you’re going to be knocking your tablet pretty much constantly.

    This will be particularly true for any of you who have children. Kids often seem very keen to throw expensive electronics around for no obvious reason.

    With all this in mind, it’s so important that your tablet is strong enough to hold up to a decent amount of punishment.

    It doesn’t have to be built like a battle tank.

    But, being resilient enough to deal with the daily rough and tumble of home life is essential.

    Otherwise it doesn’t matter how good it is, because it won’t last very long.

    The Best Tablet for under $200

    Our number 1 pick for the best tablet under $200 is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-Inch Tablet.

    Let’s talk about it. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-Inch Tablet (Wi-Fi)(16 GB, Smoky Titanium)

    The main feature that our survey groups were interested in was a high degree of functionality.

    In plain English, they wanted to be able to do lots of different things with their tablet.

    The Galaxy definitely allows you to.

    Firstly, it’s got plenty of kick. It comes with a 1.2 GHz Quad Core Processor, along with 1.5GB of RAM.

    This makes it more powerful than quite a few laptops, while still being small and light enough to easily carry around with you.

    Its memory is only 16GB of Flash, which isn’t brilliant. But it does come with a microSD slot, so you can add additional memory if you think you’ll need it.

    Part of the Tab A’s functionality comes down to the apps and additional features that you can get.

    If you’ve got young children who want to play on the Samsung, you can activate ‘Kids Mode’.

    This feature is completely free and allows you to limit and monitor what your children access, while at the same time keeping your own important documents completely separate so they don’t accidently delete them all.

    Another advantage are the free Office apps which you can download.

    You can sync your Galaxy to your main computer and then make alterations to spreadsheets and documents which will be saved across your entire system. Very handy for making any last-minute changes.

    The screen quality on the Tab A wasn’t bad at all. It’s 1024 x 768 pixels, which on an 8 inch screen is detailed enough to read documents, watch movies etc.

    The audio could have been better, but we’re judging by quite high standards, and it was still more than good enough for listening to music and watching films.

    We were very impressed by the Galaxy’s battery life, which might actually be better than Samsung claim. Our Galaxy also charged very quickly which is a nice touch.

    To test durability we dropped the Tab A a couple of times, and had a few of the larger members of the team sit on it as well. Just to see if the screen would crack.

    It didn’t. So that was good.

    After that we did a bit of research online and called up some people we know who are tablet enthusiasts.

    We wanted to know what their experience of the Galaxy’s reliability was, particularly in the longer-term.

    They all came back and said the tablet was known as being extremely reliable and long-lasting.

    That, along with our own tests, reassured us a great deal, and means that we’re happy to have it at number 1 on our list.

    Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8"; 16 GB Wifi Tablet (Smoky...
    • Android 5.0 Lollipop, 8-inch Display. Product Dimensions (inches) 8.20" x 5.43"...
    • Samsung Quad Core Processor, 1.2 GHz
    • 16 GB Flash Memory, 1.5 GB RAM Memory

    The four other tablets we tested

    Fire HD 8 Tablet

    The Fire HD 8 is for our money not quite as good a tablet as the Galaxy, but it’s not far behind either. All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet, 8" HD Display, Wi-Fi

    It’s got great power, coming with a 1.3 GHz processor and 1.5GB of RAM, so you’ll have plenty of kick for playing games and watching movies.

    Like the Samsung, the memory isn’t brilliant, but it is expandable, and you get unlimited cloud space for amazon products.

    So you can download as many books as you want.

    The screen is normally great, but unfortunately completely useless in the sun due to the glare. So find yourself some shade!

    The battery life, like all amazon tablets, is brilliant. We got 12 hours of use out no problem, very impressive.

    It’s solidly built too, and durable enough to withstand being dropped off a desk. So it scores well there.

    The Fire does suffer slightly when it comes to functionality, due to it being an amazon based product. Although this does limit it slightly, it still offers sensational value for money and only just loses out to the Galaxy model.

    Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8" HD Display, 16 GB,...
    • Fire HD 8, now with up to 12 hours of battery life, 2X the storage, and 50% more...
    • Stunning 8" HD display, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, and Dolby Audio....
    • Now with the Alexa cloud-based voice service - just press and ask

    Lenovo TAB2 A10 ZA000001US

    We thought the TAB2 was very good as well. It has a 1.5 GHz Processor and 2GB of RAM too. This makes it very powerful for a tablet, and you can feel how fast it is when using it. Lenovo TAB2 A10 ZA000001US 10.1-Inch 16GB Wi-Fi Tablet

    It’s got a 10 inch screen, with 1920×1200 resolution. This makes it great for watching movies and combined with its power makes the experience very smooth.

    We did find that the battery life on our model didn’t match up to what Lenovo claimed.

    Even though the specs say you’ll get 10 hours out, we couldn’t get any more than 7. So that was a little disappointing.

    We also thought that the TAB2 seemed a little more fragile than some of the other models we’ve looked at.

    Which could be a little concerning if you’re as careless with your tech as I often am.

    Sale
    Lenovo TAB2 A10 - 10.1" Tablet (ARM Cortex A53...
    • Android 4.4 KitKat (Up gradable up to latest OS)
    • 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex A53 Quad-Core
    • 16 GB Flash Memory, 2 GB RAM Memory

    NVIDIA SHIELD K1 8″

    Next up on our list is the NVIDIA SHIELD. NVIDIA SHIELD K1 8" Tablet

    The Shield is the most powerful tablet we’ve looked at here, with an impressive 2.2 GHz quad-core CPU, and 2GHz of RAM.

    This extra speed definitely makes a difference, and is particularly noticeable while watching movies and browsing the internet.

    The 8 inch screen is full HD, again offering a great viewing experience.
    It also has some of the best audio we’ve seen on a tablet, better than the Samsung. This makes it a really good option.

    Where it falters a little though, is in build quality.

    I wouldn’t say the build quality is bad. But because tablets are so light and are constantly being moved about, they’re quite easy to damage.

    This means they really do have to be extremely durable.

    The Shield just doesn’t seem as well put together as some of the alternatives we looked at here. I’m not sure it could withstand more than a few knocks before dying, so we had to rate it at number 4 on our list, even though its specs are very impressive.

    NVIDIA SHIELD K1 8" Tablet - Black
    • More ways to game with Android games and GeForce NOW cloud gaming service.
    • Powered by the NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor, featuring a 192-core NVIDIA Kepler GPU...
    • Full HD 1080p, 8-inch display, and dual-front facing speakers for incredible...

    Asus Zenpad S 8

    The Zenpad is a decent tablet, but for our money doesn’t quite stack up to the other options on this list. Asus Zenpad S 8 Z580C-B1-BK 8 inches 32GB Tablet

    The Asus has very decent specs. It boasts 2GB RAM, as well as a 1.3GHz Processor, so in theory it should be just as quick as any of the other tablets.

    Unfortunately, we found that not to be the case. I wouldn’t say the Zenpad was slow, but compared to the other options on this list it just wasn’t as zippy.

    Now considering its specs, I’m not entirely sure why this is the case. I don’t know whether the Asus comes with a load of bloatware that you need to remove, or whether its operating system just doesn’t work quite as quickly.

    But unfortunately it was noticeable slower compared to the alternatives we’ve looked at.

    So although it’s a good tablet, we definitely wouldn’t recommend it over the others.

    Sale
    ASUS ZenPad S8 8" (2048x1536) 32GB Black Tablet -...
    • 8" IPS Display (2048 x 1536) with ASUS TruVivid technology for better visual...
    • Intel Atom Z3530 Quad-Core, 64bit, 1.3GHz
    • 2GB RAM, 32GB Onboard Storage

    The bottom line

    To be honest, we were pleasantly surprised with pretty much all these tablets.

    It’s a big ask to be looking for a high quality tablet with a ton of features for under $200. But most of these pull it off.

    We definitely thought the Galaxy was the best product. But they all exceeded our expectations and you wouldn’t go wrong getting any one of them.

    Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8"; 16 GB Wifi Tablet (Smoky...
    • Android 5.0 Lollipop, 8-inch Display. Product Dimensions (inches) 8.20" x 5.43"...
    • Samsung Quad Core Processor, 1.2 GHz
    • 16 GB Flash Memory, 1.5 GB RAM Memory

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