Tablets For All Budgets (Part 2) - Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, Apple iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Acer Iconia Tab A700

9/11/2012 1:02:24 AM

Mid-Price Tablets

The point where performance and quality reach equilibrium. You'll never find the best tablets here, but unless you're obsessed with having the newest, fastest device, there are actually some bargains to be had by snapping up last year's old stock.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 - $480 - $800

Description: Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Bigger than most 7" tablets, but not quite as impressive as a 10" device, the Galaxy Tab is, let's not forget, a brand with a good reputation behind it. This was one of the best devices in its class when it was released, and with Android 4.0, a 1,4GHz dual-core A9, 1 280x800 resolution screen and 1 GB of RAM, its specs are still more than competitive. That said, it's rather strange to find a 3MP rear camera, which is far below par. Available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, the release of the Galaxy Tab 2 line has knocked hundreds off the price of even the most costly, meaning you can pick it up at truly bargain levels compared to its original RRP. That said, the Galaxy Tab 2 itself is far cheaper, leaving earlier models in something of a hinterland. Do you really want to pay close to £500 when newer models are even cheaper?

Apple iPad 2 - $525- $686

Description: Apple iPad 2

Still available despite the release of its successor, the iPad 2 represents a reasonably affordable entry point into Apple's tablet ecosystem. There's a 10" screen, 512MB of RAM, 16GB of storage (models at higher capacities have been discontinued) and optional 3G. echnologically speaking, it's starting to look a little creaky (the 1024x768 screen definitely looks weak compared to more recent devices) but the strength of Apple's software, branding, support and services means that it's still a very strong device. It probably best aimed at consumers with little to no technical knowledge or a specific disinterest in fine control over their software. Or, lest we forget, those who just want an Apple tablet as cheaply as possible.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) - $480 - $575

Description: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1)

First things first: for some bizarre reason, it appears that you can knock $9.6 off the price of the Galaxy Tab 2 just by getting it in white, so it goes without saying that you should definitely do that. The Galaxy Tab 2 is already cheap for what it is - an Android 4.0 device with 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a 1280x800 screen, but Samsung's choice to shift it towards the middle of the market means it ends up competing with products it's ill-equipped to fight. It's not actually much different to previous Galaxy Tabs, and Samsung has simply tried to chop it back into a price range away from the iPad rather than engineer something truly competitive. At $480 it isn't awfully expensive, but it's ultimately a disappointing entry from the otherwise strong Samsung.

Acer Iconia Tab A700 - $608

Description: Acer Iconia Tab A700 - $608

Another Android 4.0 device, the Acer Iconia Tab A700 runs a 1,3GHz Tegra 3 CPU, has a 10" 1920x1200 screen, dual cameras, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It's not quite as impressive as the Asus Transformer, which has similar specs, but then it is a great deal cheaper. $608 is a good price for hardware like this - particularly the screen. It's definitely thicker than the Transformer Prime and the iPad, but the real concerns lie elsewhere. Aside from the screen size, it's surprisingly similar to the much older and cheaper Iconia A510 - and the latter's smaller display means that the experience actually feels smoother on the smaller device, despite benchmarking performance being roughly equivalent. Ultimately, it's a device that proves to be a jack of all trades, and master of none, too expensive for buyers on a budget, but not quite powerful enough for those looking for performance.

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