Tablets for Less Than $200: Not Great, But They Work

Skypad

SkypadIf you’re waiting for iPad’s price to drop, it’s likely you’ll blink before Apple does. Though entry level $499 price is at the higher end of the market, demand for the device is greater than ever. While the iPad’s share has slipped from 83 percent to 73.4 percent, the overall market for tablets is exploding. Since Apple will ship an estimated 46 million units compared to 11 million units across all Android brands, why would it mess with what’s working?

It probably won’t anytime soon. But if you still want a tablet that can surf the net, load a PDF and even play a game or two of Angry Birds, here are a few sub $200 devices that offer a reasonable experience. Make no mistake: These aren’t iPad competitors. They’re extremely inexpensive tablets, but they’ll let you lean back while you use them.

Coby Kryos

For $150, Coby offers the 7-inch WiFi Kryos tablet with a1.3 Megapixel front facing camera to use with Skype. (It comes bundled with an app so it can double as a digital picture frame.) Small as it is, it’s big enough to let you surf the Web, read e-mails and view video comfortably. At 1.8 pounds, it’s light and thin, yet feels solid and well built.

Superpad

Also for around $150, the Superpad 10.2-inch Tablet PC runs Android 2.1, has a Webcam, GPS, and offers a minimum four hour battery life. It’s slow, so the screen can be less responsive, but it renders PDFs and Kindle books quite nicely, along with the occasional movie if you can forgive the resolution. Its greatest feature is the screen size.

SKYTEX Skypad Alpha

Like many early tablets, the SKYTEX Skypad Alpha 7-inch was no bargain when it sold above $400. Now it goes for around $150 and comes bundled with Android 2.3. On the SKYTEX website forum, several employees have posted instructions on how to root the device. Doing that allows you to remove the limitations imposed by the manufacturer, giving access to the Android Marketplace. SKYTEX seems to tacitly support rooting.

A word of warning: Unless you’re also prepared to brick it, don’t buy these with the intention of rooting if you don’t know what you’re doing. Buy it for what it is — a cheap alternative to hold you over until Santa comes with an iPad.

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