The low cost tablet market was one which was met with universal scepticism at first. Taking a position between the more refined, larger tablets, and the always present smartphone, they seemed to be in the midst of an identity crisis from their conception. Is that the case at the moment? As school gets underway once more, will we see the rise of the low cost tablet, and will it finally achieve its promise? Or will another form-factor take its place?


Where smaller is better


Whilst full size tablets pack a powerful punch when it comes to using certain applications, the size and weight of lower cost tablets will always be a big draw for a lot of people. If we take the iPad Mini as an example: very similar to the full size iPad, but the ability to pop it away quickly into an inside pocket, or a handbag, widens the appeal of the product. You aren’t necessarily losing a lot by having the smaller tablet, on the whole they will run a lot of the same software the full size tablets will.


The Nexus 7 from Google boasts a Full HD screen in just a seven-inch frame. For a company who have only been making hardware for a little while, the Nexus 7 is a refined machine, and this again highlights one of the advantages of these devices. Manufacturers started out making larger tablets, and small smartphones, and many years were spent refining each one until they had a system which worked. By eventually deciding to target the middle-ground, the benefits of each could be worked together, resulting in a superb finished product, inside of a couple of generations of hardware.


Identity Crisis


Whilst modern smartphones these days seem to have no limits to their potential, the same can be said of tablets too. This comes across more prominently in the low-cost sector, but you do run the risk of becoming a jack of all trades, and master of nothing. The Samsung Galaxy Note is in a tricky position, part way between a phone, part way between a tablet, and yet more expensive than a lot of its near-contemporaries. These hybrid ‘phablets’ are starting to become a lot more common, as Sony, Acer, and Asus seek to get in on the game too. Sony revealed their Xperia Z Ultra, a monster of a phone with a 6.4 inch screen, the biggest on the market currently without being an all-out tablet.


Whilst these phabelts have their appeal, they certainly lack a clear focus unlike some of the lower-cost tablets. The new Kindle Fire HDX, for example, comes in at 7 inches, around $200 dollars, and a technical specification list that would put most personal computers to shame. If you’re currently looking into buying, now is as good a time as ever as there’s never been a harder time to buy a poor tablet.