If you do decide that the Fire isn’t for you, the alternative is an Android tablet. iPads don’t fall into the budget category, so you’ll only find those in our Best Tablets roundup.
Android is a great operating system, but it doesn’t follow that all cheap Android tablets are great.
There are plenty of no-name brands out there, but as with most tech, you can’t buy one based on specifications alone.
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Quad-core CPUs and “high definition” screens might sound great, but what counts is how they perform in the real world. That’s where our reviews come in, as we run benchmarks to assess performance and battery life, and test a screen’s brightness, viewing angles and colours: none of which you can do by looking at an ebay listing or Argos catalogue.
However, it does help to know what to look for when narrowing down your search.
First, decide on screen size. Do you want a portable tablet with a 7in screen, or do you want something larger (and trade off portability)? We can’t tell you what’s best for you, but in general, a 7- or 8in screen is best if you’ll take the tablet everywhere (you can also get smaller sizes), while a 9-10in screen is good if you only need to carry it around occasionally.
Look for an IPS screen, as this technology is almost a guarantee that it will have good colours and viewing angles. It doesn’t say too much about brightness and contrast, but we’ve seen few IPS-screened tablets that we didn’t like.
Resolution isn’t as important as you might think. Pixel density is a better guide: you need fewer pixels on a smaller screen and vice versa. Look for at least 250 pixels per inch.