Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5 Things I've Learned About Budget Tablets

Like most good lessons, I learned this one the hard way.  A few months ago I bought my mom a budget tablet from Walmart.  I knew it wouldn't be great but realizing she doesn't need top of the line equipment to check email and play Candy Crush Saga I figured she'd be ok.  So when I finally got it I realized why it had the price tag it had.  I'm here to impart you with the knowledge I have earned so you don't make the same mistakes I did.

1.  If the budget tablet is under $150 and it boasts a certain amount of memory, chances are you can't readily use all of it.

This one can be a bit misleading since you NEVER have access to all of the memory advertised.  Usually it's negligible.  Budget tablets do something FAR more insidious.  They divide your memory into the base memory and NAND memory then add the two for advertising.  So what does that mean?  Well sifting through the technical mumbo jumbo that even I'm not sure I understand it comes down to this: You'll have around 1 GB for the Android OS and apps and whatever the remainder is in free space.  Now if you're running the most current version of Android you can probably move apps into that free space using certain apps but you're bound by around 750 mb of "slack" space.  To see if you're device is configured as such you'd have to try before you buy.  It's best if you do this in the store.

2.  Not all budget devices are Google approved.

This is a big one.  Google approved devices have access to the full slew of Google apps like Youtube, Chrome, Gmail, etc.  The most important app though is Google Play.  Google Play is the app you use to get more apps.  Granted there are alternatives to Play but it makes the experience of owning a tablet less enjoyable.  You'll also find you have to sideload a lot of popular apps since you can't install them directly from Play.

3.  They're made from cheap materials.

You'll feel it the minute you pick one up.  They don't feel "solid".  They actually feel like toys.

4.  The screens are terrible.

They're so blurry!  They remind me of old GameBoy screens.  To be fair though, I'm used to using this bad boy:
5.  No bells and whistles.

Among the list of things to expect a budget tablet NOT to have: Bluetooth, dual cameras, ANY camera, good sound, no microSD port, no microUSB port, GPS, and a recent version of Android.

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