As traditional laptops shrink and 2-in-1 laptops become increasingly popular, you may be wondering why a tablet is still a worthwhile investment. For starters, tablets tend to weigh less than your average laptop. Most have screens ranging from 7 to 10 inches, which is ideal for portability. Another advantage of tablets is that they generally start up faster than a laptop. If you want a device that’s faster and has a larger screen than your smartphone yet isn’t as bulky and cumbersome as a laptop, a tablet could be your best bet.
This list takes a look at the best tablets for college students on a budget. We’ve included options from under $100 to around $300 depending on how much you’re willing to spend. Many of the more expensive tablets have faster processors and better screens, along with increased storage space. However, you might not need or want the latest model. If you’re a college student on a budget, here’s a look at the best budget-friendly tablets on the market right now.
1. Fire HD 8 Tablet
Amazon’s new Fire HD 8 Tablet offers a slightly larger display than the Fire 7 Tablet, which is about $30 less. It also has a higher resolution and two stereo speakers, compared to the single speaker on the Fire 7. You can expect the battery to last up to 12 hours when using the Fire HD 8. The Fire 7 has a battery life of up to 8 hours. Another key difference is storage. The Fire HD 8 is available in 16 and 32 GB models, while the Fire 7 comes in 8 or 16 GB versions. However, both are expandable up to 256 GB. The Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 are also Alexa-enabled. Both tablets offer a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor, 720p HD video recording, and dual band WiFi. Choose between four distinct color options to match your personality.
- Battery lasts up to 12 hours
- Available in 16 and 32 GB versions
- Dual stereo speakers
- Subpar camera quality
- Can lag when multitasking
- Some wish the sound quality was better
2. ASUS ZenPad Z300M
The ASUS ZenPad 10 offers a 10.1-inch display, compared to the 8-inch screen found on the ASUS ZenPad 8.0. Other key differences between the two include storage and memory. While the ZenPad 10 comes standard with 2 GB memory, the ASUS ZenPad 8.0 has 1 GB and 2 GB options. Additionally, you’ll find 16 GB and 32 GB options for the ZenPad 10, while the ZenPad 8.0 comes in 8 GB and 16 GB variations. Both tablets have a 64 bit quad-core processor and 100 GB of Google Drive space for two years. They also both have Bluetooth connectivity, GPS, and front and rear cameras. The ZenPad 10 has two front speakers, while the ZenPad 8.0 has one. Battery life in the ZenPad 10 is up to 11 hours, compared to the projected eight hours with the ZenPad 8.0.
Price: $156.68 (12 percent off MSRP)
- 2 GB memory
- 64 bit quad-core processor
- Battery lasts up to 11 hours per charge
- Doesn’t have a SIM card slot
- Some complain of subpar screen resolution
- Several note frequent WiFi connection issues
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-Inch Tablet
With a price tag under $200, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-Inch Tablet is a solid choice for any college student on a budget. Highlights include an 8-inch display and 1.2 GHz quad core processor. There’s a microSD card slot up to 128 GB. A handy multi-window feature allows you to use two apps simultaneously. An adaptive display automatically adjusts as needed for optimal viewing. Whether you’re getting ready to write a paper or create a presentation, all you need to do is tap your desired Microsoft Office icon to download the program for free. Options include Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
If you need a larger screen, consider the 10.1-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab A.
- MicroSD card slot up to 128 GB
- Users can download Microsoft Office programs for free
- Multi-window feature lets users run two apps simultaneously
- Relatively weak single speaker
- Some find it difficult to set up
- Subpar display
4. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus
If you can stretch your budget to around $300 and plan on frequently using your tablet for entertainment, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus is worth the splurge. Not only is the wide angle display a generous 10.1 inches, it’s also Quad High Definition (QHD) and provides clear, bright images at all angles. There are four integrated JBL speakers in front, which is at least double what most tablets in this price range offer. The battery can last up to 18 hours on a single charge. Other student-friendly features include a sturdy metal chassis, integrated kickstand, textured finish, and splashproof construction.
- Large QHD display
- Four JBL speakers in front
- Splashproof construction
- Lacks a multi-window/viewing function
- Some find it a bit slow when using multiple apps at once
- A few complain of static and buzzing in the speakers
5. Huawei MediaPad M3
Coming in at just under $300, the Huawei MediaPad M3 isn’t the cheapest tablet on our list. However, it has a lot to offer. If you’re looking for a tablet that delivers a powerful audio and video experience, you’ll appreciate features such as a crisp 2560 x 1600 pixel IPS display and HD video recording. Student-friendly features include an office productivity suited, GPS, and high-speed internet connectivity. There’s also 4 GB RAM and a 32 GB hard drive. While it currently runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) + Huawei EMUI 4.1, you can upgrade to Android 7.0 (Nougat) with EMUI 5.1 once it’s available.
If you don’t need the latest operating system and more memory, consider the Huawei MediaPad M2.
- HD video recording
- Includes office productivity suite
- 4 GB RAM and 32 GB hard drive
- Battery life could be better
- Doesn’t support 5 GHz WiFi
- A few mention the keyboard is a bit small
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