With Kindle and Nook reducing their price tags, it feels like we’re in the opening salvos of a price war for Android tablets. That can only help the consumer of these slates that are increasingly showing up in the classroom. Still, with a color Kindle selling for $200 and a Nook going for $180, these slates might still be out of reach of many schools.
Fear not, because there’s no shortage of dirt-cheap Android tablets. Some skimp by not having the most up to date software and lack some apps, but they all have 7-inch screens and a surprising number of amenities. Here’re my favorite Android systems that cost a whole lot less.
COBY KYROS MID 7012
The Coby Kyros Mid 7012 packs a lot of slate into a small package and an even smaller price tag. For roughly $100, you get a 7-inch touch-screen, but it uses resistive technology that can show 800 by 480 resolution and only handle one input at a time. The slate has an 800MHz processor and 4GB of storage space for adding lessons, homework or apps along with built-in WiFi; it can only use the older 802.11b or g networks. Based on Android 2.3, it is a step back from the latest software, but the Kyros Mid 7012 has a USB port. The big pay-off is that it is a lightweight at just 11 ounces, making it one of the best slates for small hands.
VELOCITY MICRO CRUZ T301
Velocity Micro’s Cruz T301 is of similar size and heft, but it is a mixture of older and newer technology. This 7-inch slate’s touch-screen has a shorter and wider 4:3 aspect ratio and uses multi-touch technology so that it can read the position of several fingers and complex gestures at once. It’s 0.6-inches thick, uses an 800MHz processor and comes with 256MB of RAM, 2GB of storage and 802.11n WiFi networking. While it uses Android 2.2 software, the Cruz slate comes with everything from a dictionary to OfficeSuite. It sells for about $110.
SKYTEK SKYPAD ALPHA 2
Want the latest Android software without breaking the bank? Skytek’s SkyPad Alpha 2 comes loaded with Android 4.0 as well as a good assortment of free apps. Still, it sells for less than $100 and comes with a powerful 1.2GHz ARM processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage space, outdoing more expensive slates. Its 7-inch screen uses a multi-touch display that can interpret several fingers and complex gestures at once. It can connect with built-in WiFi and put a lesson on the big screen with an HDMI port.
Of all the tablets available at the moment, the best buy just might be Sylvania’s SYTAB10MT. At $100, the SYTAB10MT combines a 10-inch touch-screen that can show 1,024 by 600 resolution along with 802.11b/g WiFi wireless networking. It’s on the heavy side at 2.5 pounds but comes with a 1GHz ARM processor, 256MB of RAM and 2GB of storage. Its Android 2.2 is getting old but it should be fine for most school uses. There’s also an ST model that adds a camera as well as more memory for roughly the same price, making it a high-tech bargain.