From the Tesco Hudl to the Argos MyTablet, from the Kindle Fire to the huge range of Google Android tablets, tech companies are queueing up to offer us cheaper alternatives to the iPad. But is a budget tablet a false economy? Here are six reasons to consider a budget tablet... but then pick an iPad anyway. (See all iPad reviews.)
The Tesco Hudl is far cheaper than any of Apple's iPads, but can it possibly compare to the iPad's user experience?
It’s okay to admit it: you’re tempted by the Tesco Hudl and Argos’ MyTablet. With decent reviews and astoundingly cheap price tags, how could you not? But if you’re looking to get the same user experience as you would with even an iPad mini, you’ll be sorely mistaken.
So before you go swearing off Tim Cook's overpriced voodoo machines, think about why you’re buying the tablet. If you’re looking for a multifunctional, useful tablet that’s not only going to work well but also going to last, you’ll want to go beyond the tablet’s price tag and further under the hood. Considering…
iPad vs. budget tablet alternatives: 1. Price
Even if you’re looking at the lowest end of Apple’s iPad product range, the 16GB Wi-Fi-enabled iPad mini 1, it’ll still cost you roughly double the price of the Tesco Hudl, Argos’ MyTablet and the Kindle Fire HD. This alone would make any savvy shopper think twice before shelling out at least £250 for not even the newest mini on the market.
However, you get what you pay for in the tablet world. Though that £99 price tag is tempting, you’re simply not getting the same quality machine as the £319 i-counterpart.
iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 8.9 tablet comparison review: iPad mini and Kindle Fire compared
iPad vs. budget tablet alternatives: 2. Design and build
Let’s go for the best head-to-head comparison here: the iPad mini versus the Tesco Hudl. As we wrote in our extensive comparison review, the Hudl actually clobbers the mini’s screen quality (for reference, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD also blows the mini’s screen out of the water). All of this matters until you consider the Retina Display mini - yes, more expensive, but then again, more bang for your buck.
Most low-cost tablets are notorious for a plasticky, cheap feel. Though the Tesco Hudl largely defies that stereotype, you’ll certainly find no plastic in sight on any iPad model.
iPad mini 2 with Retina display vs iPad mini 1 comparison review: Is it worth upgrading your iPad mini?
iPad vs. budget tablet alternatives: 3. Gaming
The processors in these budget tablets certainly can’t handle the heavy lifting required for any decent games - making for laggy, glitchy gameplay should you even give it a go. The A7 chip, on the other hand, is more powerful and efficient than anything you’d find in a budget tablet - not to mention that 64bit architecture. (See also Best iPad games)
Infinity Blade 3
iPad vs. budget tablet alternatives: 4. Apps
You simply cannot top the Apple App Store, even if you had access to the semi-comparable Google Play. The Fire HD especially falls short here with the Amazon App Store, which has an especially limited selection of apps - excluding e-books, of course.
iPad vs. budget tablet alternatives: 5. iOS
This is probably the biggest and best way to differentiate iPads from budget tablets. All of the iPads run Apple’s operating system, which is much more secure than Android - keeping your information much safer than on a tablet running anything an Android OS. (For more on this, see iPhone vs Android: Why the iPhone and iOS beat Google Android.)
iPad vs budget tablet alternatives: 6. Wi-Fi connectivity
The latest iPad models (iPad mini 2 and iPad Air) not only include a super powerful processor, but also MIMO, which doubles the tablet’s Wi-Fi connectivity - trouncing its performance even over models as recent as the second-gen iPad.