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Home  /  geekspeak  /  Are Cheap Tablets Worth Your Money?

Are Cheap Tablets Worth Your Money?

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Metalbox MP10

There’s no doubt that Tablet-based computers are a hot commodity at the moment, but the one thing that they’re not is exceptionally cheap. If you wanted, for example, an Apple iPad with all the trimmings and maximum storage, it’d set you back a healthy $899 outright. You do get a lot of tablet for your money, but are the cheaper alternatives worthwhile?

Using Apple’s own iOS operating system, no, but there’s always Android. High specification Android tablets are quite common, with some high quality choices from firms like Samsung and Asus, but they’re at similar price points again.

Local Australian retailer Kogan recently announced that it would start shipping out a tablet with a 10 inch display screen for as little as $179. Tablets are tablets, right, so compared to the iPad, there’s a $720 saving right there, no?

In pure fiscal terms, yes, but there are some significant differences that are worth pointing out. For a start, that $179 tablet only has 8GB of storage, compared to the 64GB on the top-end iPad. Kogan’s model relies on selling online rather than in-store — there’s no way to “test” a product prior to buying it, although it’s always subject to the same Australian retail laws, so if it failed to be “fit for purpose” you should be entitled to a refund. Beyond the storage — and it’s also worth noting you could cut the iPad price down to $539 by dropping it to 16GB and Wi-Fi only — the iPad has a much higher resolution screen; the iPad’s screen resolution is 2048×1536 pixels, whereas Kogan’s tablet manages a considerably blockier 1024×768. The iPad likewise has a considerably better camera (with a very strong camera app ecosystem behind it) and Apple’s particular dedication towards build quality — and you pay for that.

Kogan, meanwhile”¦ is Kogan, for better or worse. It’s a company that aggressively attacks the budget sector with its own branded products, but it can be something of a mixed bag in terms of quality. I’ve tested a great many Kogan products over the past few years. Some have been excellent products in their price range; at one time they did an excellent DAB+ radio and an exceptionally competitive Blu-Ray player at a time when such things were very high end. At the same time, there have also been some terribly ordinary products; some Kogan TVs have been terribly lacklustre, and Kogan’s foray into the Netbook world was a fairly ugly thing with terrible wireless performance.

Not long after announcing it was available for pre-order, Kogan announced it had “sold out” of its production run; I do suspect that’s because at $179 (or $199 for the 16GB version) it did offer a very cheap Tablet alternative. As I write this, Aldi’s readying up a special that’ll see it sell a slightly higher specification tablet for $249. In both cases, you’re not risking enormous sums of money, at least relative to the price of a high-end tablet. As long as you recognise what you’re getting — and might not be getting — it’s perhaps a fair deal.

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