Tablets are one of the breakout technologies of the last couple of years.
They’re typically light, easy to use and have excellent battery lives too.
So it’s easy to see why they’ve become so popular.
Recently, we’ve had the opportunity to look at a bunch of tablets priced under $300. This is a massive treat for us, as we all really love tablets as a concept, and getting paid to play with a bunch of them is just our idea of heaven.
The reason we’ve been looking at so many, is because we wanted to know the best tablet you could buy for under $300.
After carefully reviewing a ton of tablets, browsing the internet, playing games, and running movies non-stop to test the battery life. We’ve come to the conclusion that the best tablet you can get for under $300 is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1″.
The Tab A is an incredible tablet. Below we’ll give you a thorough review of the Galaxy, as well as talking about some of the other tablets we got to play with.
Table of Contents
- 1 How we chose the Best Tablet under $300
- 2 The five Best Tablets under $300
- 3 The most important consideration when choosing the Best Tablet under $300 is functionality
- 4 Other considerations when choosing the Best Tablet under $300
- 5 The Best Tablet for Under $300 is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1″
- 6 The four other tablets we tested
- 7 The bottom line
How we chose the Best Tablet under $300
Whenever we’re reviewing products, we always like to do some surveys about what typical buyers are looking for prior to purchase.
That way, when we actually start reviewing the products ourselves, we have an idea of what users are hoping to get when they buy a product.
This means we can see whether the products have those features, and can then judge them according to whether they do or not.
The following 5 features were the things our users described as being most important. They are ranked in order:
To work out this final list, we took the tablets that performed the best all these areas. We then brought them into the office so we can could test them ourselves.
This job isn’t easy.
Almost every day we’re given some new piece of technology to look at. To test them we often need to play games, watch movies and listen to music on them…it’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it.
We were subjected to the same hard labor when testing these tablets.
To make sure they were functional, we went through a bunch of different apps to see what they could do.
To test the speed we browsed the internet with a bunch of windows open, and played games just to see how quickly they would run.
To test the viewing experience, we actually had to watch movies and T.V. shows on them…the horror!
After days of this exhausting work, we managed to whittle the tablets down to this list of 5.
These were the best 5 tablets we looked at.
The five Best Tablets under $300
Here’s our list of the five Best Tablets under $300:
|Samsung Galaxy Tab A SM-T580NZKAXAR...||from $223.94||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|Apple iPad mini 2 ME276LL/A (16GB,...||$289.99||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.6"; 16 GB...||from $169.99||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa, 10.1"...||$229.99||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|Huawei + Harman Kardon MediaPad M3...||$299.00||Read Amazon Reviews »|
The most important consideration when choosing the Best Tablet under $300 is functionality
Functionality is often a term that people find difficult to understand initially.
But it’s actually very simple.
All it means is, how much can you do with the tablet? So, does it have a wide range of apps? Is it sufficiently powerful to run them? Can you take photos, make video calls etc?
The reality is that plenty of cheaper tablets lack functionality.
This is because their manufacturers are attempting to squeeze a lot into a relatively small budget, and while they end up creating a good tablet on paper, when it’s actually being used you can see that it just hasn’t been designed properly.
They end up being clunky and slow. Bugs are common.
Luckily, all of the models we look at here have excellent functionality.
So they’ll play smoothly, and are more than capable of running any of the apps that they come with…which is more than can be said for some tablets.
Other considerations when choosing the Best Tablet under $300
When it comes to computing, speed and power are often regarded as being the same thing.
Someone might look at the specs of a tablet, note that it has a decent processor and a good amount of RAM, and assume this means it’s a fast tablet.
Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Whether it’s due to bloatware, the operating system, or some other factor. The reality is that sometimes a tablet can be extremely powerful on paper, but just not run very quickly.
This can be incredibly frustrating. I’m sure we’ve all purchased a laptop, or some other piece of technology, got it back home, and realised that despite its impressive specs it just doesn’t run as fast as we need it to.
This can happen with tablets as well.
Therefore it was speed, and how well the tablets actually ran. Rather than raw power, that our users were really interested in.
Most of the tablets we look at here run very quickly and smoothly. Although as you’ll see the most powerful isn’t necessarily the quickest.
The joy of modern tablets is that you can use them for pretty much anything.
They’ve come a long way from when they were pretty much only good for reading books or watching films.
Nowadays you can create spreadsheets, play games, write books, and even make music on a powerful enough tablet.
But despite the fact that you can do all of these things, tablets are still mostly used for entertainment. Primarily watching movies and browsing the internet.
Therefore, our users regarded the viewing experience of the tablets as being extremely important.
By viewing experience, they didn’t just mean the quality of the screen. They also meant the audio, and what the overall experience of watching movies, listening to music and reading books was like on the tablet.
They wanted to know whether you could look at the screen for long periods without hurting your eyes. Was the audio loud enough and easy to adjust?
Basically they wanted to know how good the tablets were able to function as pint-size entertainment systems.
One of the most frustrating things about modern technology is the fact that it is both expensive, and fragile.
Now, I do think this is largely unavoidable. The reality is that circuit boards and other computer components are incredibly complicated. They simply aren’t designed to get knocked, sat on, or have water poured on them.
But this doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly frustrating to have an expensive piece of technology stop working after a short period of use.
Therefore, ensuring that the products we recommend were both reliable and tough enough to take some punishment was very important.
We did this by testing their toughness a little ourselves, as well as checking the product’s reputation out with a couple of industry experts we know.
So if any of the products have reliability issues, you’ll be the first to know.
One of the great things about tablets is their portability. They weigh very little, they’ll fit inside a small bag (or you can carry them in your hand) and they’re just so much easier to take about with you than a laptop.
What this means though, is that having a good battery life is critical.
Because they’re so often used on the go, they’re pretty much useless unless their battery life is excellent. If your tablet’s battery isn’t up to scratch, then you’ve more or less got yourself a very expensive paperweight.
We personally tested the battery lives of each of the tablets we looked at here. We played games on them, watched films, and carefully recorded how long the battery life lasted while doing each thing.
This way, we can tell you exactly what the battery life actually is. Rather than what the manufacturers tell you it is.
The Best Tablet for Under $300 is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1″
Anyone who’s read any of our previous reviews, will know that we’re big fans of Galaxy Tablets.
We loved the 8 inch Tab A, and we think the 10 inch version is even better.
The primary feature our users were interested in was functionality. They wanted a wide range of apps, great games to play, as well as the ability to alter their documents and manage what their children look at online.
The Tab A gives you all of this.
It has considerably more power than its smaller cousin. With 2GB of RAM and a 1.6GHz processor.
As we discussed, sometimes good specs do not accurately reflect the speed at which the tablet runs, but fortunately that was not the case here, as the Galaxy was extremely zippy.
In order to test the speed I decided to open up a ton of browsing windows at once, and just see how many I could run before they became completely unusable. Now, obviously my experience may not be universal, but I could get 15 tabs open at one time, which is pretty brilliant for a tablet.
The screen quality of the Tab A is excellent, with a 1920×1200 pixels on a 10 inch screen. This is great for watching films or browsing the internet.
What’s also nice is that the screen isn’t irritating like some can be after prolonged periods. I personally don’t really suffer eye-pain from looking at screens, but some of the staff do, and none of them had any problems when using the Galaxy.
So that’s a big plus if this is something you suffer from.
We always have fun testing a products reliability. Because it mostly involves pushing it off desks or getting the heaviest members of staff to sit on it in an attempt to crack the screen.
Like the 8 inch Tab A, the 10 inch was tough enough to survive our efforts.
We also got a very positive feedback when we asked some tablet enthusiasts about the long-term reliability of the Samsung. All users reported that the Tab A is known for being reliable.
Another plus point.
We do think that Samsung have slightly overstated the battery life. But this is pretty much industry practice and we were able to get 10 hours of constant video play out before ours gave up.
By any standard that’s pretty phenomenal.
As you can tell, we really like the Tab A, and it was definitely our favorite tablet out of the whole bunch.
The four other tablets we tested
The iPad 2 is a sensational tablet, and easily one of the best you can get for under $300. Although we thought the Galaxy was slightly better, there wasn’t very much in it.
The functionality of the mini 2 is excellent. It has half the RAM of the Tab A, but you wouldn’t know just from using it, as it’s quick as lightning.
As our users regarded speed as being more important than raw power (and we agree), we didn’t mark the iPad down for having less RAM.
The screen on the mini is of very high quality, and is very pleasing to look at too. But at only 7.9 inches, it isn’t nearly as big as the Tab A.
So watching movies on it isn’t quite the same experience.
The mini is tough and has a reputation for being reliable, just like most Apple products.
The battery life was very good, we got 9 hours out. This is great but a little less than the Galaxy.
- Apple iOS 7, 7.9-Inches Retina Display
- Apple A7 chip with 64‑bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
- 16 GB Flash Memory, 1 GB RAM Memory
The Tab E is another excellent product from Samsung. But we didn’t like it quite as much as either the Tab A or the mini.
The power on this model is decent. It has a 1.2GHz processor and 1.5GB of RAM, that makes it quick, but the boot times are not as fast as the Tab A. The difference is small but noticeable.
It has great functionality, and has full access to the usual Samsung apps. So you can keep the children safe in “Kids Mode”, or alter any documents directly from your tablet.
The screen isn’t quite the same quality, with just 800 x 1280 resolution. Although it’s definitely large enough to watch movies on.
The Tab E is durable and has a 10 hour battery life. Both serious pluses.
- 9.52 x 5.89 x 0.33-inch, 9.6 inches (~73.9% screen-to-body ratio)
- Qualcomm Tablet Processor 1.2 GHz
- 1.5 GB RAM Memory
Although I personally really like the Fire series of tablets, one of their problems is that buying one locks you into the Amazon experience.
This does somewhat limit the Fire’s functionality, although they’re great tablets and if it wasn’t for that, this model would score even more highly on this list.
The Fire is very fast to use, and we had no problem using any of the featured apps. Some users have reported issues with their models freezing or being slow, but we experienced none of that.
The screen is of a pretty high resolution (1280×800) and is very pleasant to look at. It also has the advantage of being adjustable at night, so you can easily turn off the blue light that keeps you awake.
We gave it a couple of whacks to see how it held up, and there were no problems there. These tablets also have a good reputation for reliability so you’re covered on that front.
- Our largest display on our thinnest tablet yet. Available in black, white, and...
- Silver aluminum option features an all-metal backing for a premium tablet...
- Beautiful widescreen 10.1" HD display with over a million pixels (149 ppi / 1280...
On paper this is the strongest tablet of the lot.
It has an impressive 4GB of RAM, along with a 2.3GHz processor.
As if that wasn’t enough, it comes with a genuinely beautiful screen with an incredible 2560×1600 resolution.
Unfortunately though, the user experience doesn’t quite match up to the specs.
Firstly, we found the MediaPad to be a little jumpy when being used.
If we were scrolling down, it would freeze for a second, and then suddenly scroll down a great deal. This didn’t happen a lot, but considering the tablet was brand new, we found it a little disconcerting.
We also weren’t entirely convinced about the build quality. It just didn’t seem as robust as some of the other models we’d looked at.
Also, because it’s a relatively new tablet, we couldn’t really get any feedback concerning the long-term reliability of the product. Because they just haven’t been out that long.
All these things considered means we placed it at the bottom of our list. Even though in some areas it was extremely impressive.
- 8.4-inch tablet that boasts a proprietary HI Silicon octa-core processor and...
- Features a 2560 x 1600 pixel IPS display; 8 MP front & rear camera and HD video;...
- Tuned and certified by Harman/Kardon to provide a paramount audio and video...
We really enjoyed going through all of these tablets. All the ones we looked at were actually very good, and we think you’d do well to get pretty much any of them
But at this point in time the Tab A was definitely our favorite, and is 100% the best one you could get.