There are tons of Android tablets out there. Unlike the rival iPad, which has various iterations all made by Apple, Android tablets come from all kinds of companies and in all forms. Which means choosing the right one can be difficult. Sadly, however, a large number of Android tablets might seem tempting to buy because they are super-affordable. But is it worth it? Here are some of the more visible products you should certainly pass on as well as four that you can buy instead once you've saved up a bit of extra dough.
No longer cool
You'd be surprised at just how many RCA tablets show up on Walmart's list of best sellers. Do not buy it. The tablet is old, slow, and won't get a lick of support. Also, the RCA brand isn't nearly what it used to be, with its true manufacturer being another one of the dime-a-dozen Chinese manufacturers that make these uninspired devices. You might as well toss it in the pile with the rest of that junk.
What good is a tablet if you can't even run Netflix on it? Reportedly, it doesn't work with this tablet, which also sports a lackluster 2MP rear camera and 0.3MP front camera (seriously, this is 1990s levels!) It does have a quad-core processor but only 1GB of RAM and 16GB ROM, expandable up to 32GB via optional microSD card. Plus, it runs on the ancient Android 6.0 OS. You're better off spending a few extra bucks for an e-reader as it's likely that's all you'll be able to use this one for anyway.
Don't get this tablet unless you aren't in a rush to do, well, anything. The 1.5GHz processor reportedly runs pretty slow, which means while you have access to the Google Play Store, you might not be able to play some of the games you love, watch movies, or do any other task that requires a ton of processing power. It's built on Android 8.0, but you can get much better legacy Android tablets by paying a bit more.
Oops, I'm dead!
These days, we'd expect at least an 8-hour battery life from a basic tablet so it can last a full workday. This one has a rated battery life of just 6 hours, which means over time, it will probably last even less. Built on Android 6.0 "Marshmallow," you won't be able to do anything that requires a ton of processing power and might find it crashing if you try.
The Lenovo Tab E10 doesn't sound like a bad device on paper with its quad-core chipset, up to 3GB of RAM, and HD screen resolution. But Lenovo's tablets are notoriously riddled with bugs and performance and battery issues. It launched with a fairly recent version of Android - 8.1 Oreo - but it's anyone's guess whether it will ever get another meaningful upgrade.
I'm not just picking on kids' tablets, believe you me. But I couldn't help but notice that Nabi's tablets sell far too well on Amazon for what you're getting: an Android 4.4 KitKat slate that's dead in the water. I beg you, please don't let Amazon trick you into thinking this is a hot item. Well, that is unless you plan on making it hot by burning it.
Buy these Android tablets instead
Now that we've sifted through that garbage, let's talk about the tablets you most certainly should be considering. You can't really go wrong with any of the choices in this selection.
The Galaxy Tab S4 is Samsung's answer to the iPad and still a pretty decent option despite the Tab S6 having come out as an upgrade to it. And while we don't know that it bests Apple's slate, it's certainly still a viable Android tablet option for those who don't need the latest and greatest. It'll cost you a grip, but the Galaxy Tab S4 is one of the few legacy Android tablets doing it right.
Affordable and fun
Amazon infamously shuns Google Play, but the Fire line of tablets is still one of the better buys when it comes to budget-friendly price tags. And just because it doesn't have Google Play doesn't mean you can't get tons of apps for it, watch movies from your favorite streaming services, and more.
A step up
Yes, Huawei is making good tablets again. The MediaPad M5 is a very good option if you're willing to spend a few extra bucks. It may not be as powerful as some of the top-line stuff out there, but it has enough for all your apps, movies, and browsing, and even handles most games just fine.
So yes, there's value in a tablet made for kids. It just so happens Amazon probably makes the best one of the lot. You can control what your kids watch and see, as well as how long they can play, thanks to FreeTime. It also comes with a nice protective case to protect it from the freakishly destructive hands of your little ones. And yes, you can use it as a normal tablet once they grow out of it.
Hopefully, you've walked away with a better idea of what you should be looking for in a tablet. Throwaway brands, nonexistent support, and overall lousy user experiences — all the makings of a true dud. It's hard to know that just by browsing at the store, of course, so it's always worth researching the people who were unfortunate enough to find out the hard way. You're off to a good start here with some of our recommendations, though.
If you're looking to save some money and grab an older model, whether it's for the kids, as a secondary device, or just to use for specific tasks, you simply can't go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. But the other recommended ones on this list are great options, too. When it comes to something for kids, the Amazon Fire HD 8 is affordable and will provide everything you need to let them browse, play games, and enjoy other content safely and securely. And if it's for an adult, the Amazon Fire HD 10 won't break the bank but will provide everything you need in a versatile and feature-rich tablet without the premium price.
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Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.