What’s the best tablet for a 13 year old boy that’s under $400?
Question by Christine S /

due to Verizons change in upgrade policies i will not be able to upgrade my sons phone in september as we anticipated and have to wait until january. as an alternative i have convinced him that a tablet would satisfy his need for something running on an updated system, he can do all the youtube he wants with a better bigger screen and most importantly help with his studies. can you suggest several options that would appeal to a 13 yr. old boy with front and back cameras, and all the bells and whistles he could make use of, with a price tag under $400.00?
thanks ever so much, christine


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Answers (19)
  • Guy M

    I do have teenagers in my house, and I did used to let them use my work computer. They have all gotten jobs and bought their own laptops. When they used my computer I asked what they needed it for and asked them to stick to using it just for that. I was disappointed once and that was dealt with and never happened again.

    There is no intended sarcasm. I’m quite serious when it comes to teaching others how to use information technology properly and respecting the tools as well as other people’s property.

    The only part of this discussion that bothers me is the lesson taught to the boy – wreck mom’s stuff and she’ll buy me my own. If he didn’t respect your computer, what makes you think he’s going to respect the computer that you buy him? I don’t want you to get stuck in a loop of having to buy him new computers because he doesn’t take care of them.

    Which is why I also recommended the Acer Chromebook C7 at a price of $200 brand new. It has a 320 GB hard drive, comes with extended Google Drive Storage so he can access his important files from almost anywhere. The apps that he would need for almost any schoolwork are also free.

    It is extremely fast to start up (less than 5 seconds) is synchronized with his Google account, so all of his bookmarks for websites automatically follow him. Also updates happen seamlessly without requiring any downtime. Plus Google is going to be around for awhile.

    Because it is a netbook, having the keypad as a screen protector should extend the life of the screen. The Acer body is very sturdy and I’ve trusted them with my users under pretty harsh conditions.

    If you’re going with giving him the Samsung 7.7, you may want to look into having Verizon’s Usage Controls. For $4.99 per month, you can set data limits on the device. That beats $15 per GB that he might go over on your data plan.

    With the Usage Controls, you can also set times of day when the Internet is off-limits as well as parental control over the kind of content he access. You can even give him an allowance on the device that he can use to buy apps and such. Pretty cool really.

  • Susendeep D

    If you wait for upto mid September,Apple might unveil a new iPad which can result in drop of price of previous generation models.This would give you an option to whether to go with older generation or buy a new one.

    For tablets,iPads are best.If you don’t like Apple,then newly launched second generation Nexus 7 is also a good tablet.

    • Christine S

      Thanks Susendeep i think we are on the same page here, those 2 do seem to be the best options, thanks so much, christine

  • Tim Brookes

    I’m an iPhone owner, so I’d always pick an iPad. I believe the quality of apps is higher, and that you get a refined piece of hardware and the best possible software for the price you pay. You’re also buying into future versions of the OS, something Apple is very good at providing on a yearly basis. Many Android manufacturers are much better than they used to be, though, and the app quality is far from poor in a lot of areas. I don’t think my lack of impartiality really matters here though.

    I think this is an important point: have you asked him which of the operating systems he likes the look of? Is he an avid user of PCs? Does he own a Mac? Is he always fixing your PC? Or is his interest in technology more for entertainment and convenience? An Apple tablet would probably suit the latter case.

    Another thing I’d recommend is waiting a month or two for Apple’s iOS 7/iPhone 5S release, just to make sure they don’t go and drop another iPad on us which would make the previous model $50-$100 cheaper.

    • Christine S

      Thanks Tim that actually is sound advice and no he really has no interest on tweeking on a pc thats my new hobby, he just wants it to work and do it fast how it works does not seem to interest him, which personally i think is bizarre how could you not want to dig deeper? No we have never owned anything apple my husband is in the trades and doesnt share my passion but he has said he would like to convert the the house and family to apple products. And apple does have great warranties and pricing on reconditioned products. So you say wait a month or so you would think they would do new releases before school started o_O again good advice thanks. I pad or nexus? Or i give him mine and i get the new tablet. Thanks again, christine

    • Tim Brookes

      Apple do some back to school discounts, though I’m not sure whether that will quite coincide with the new release of the next iPad. I don’t know for a fact (nobody does) that they will release a new model soon, though it’s rather likely – and you don’t really stand too much to lose by waiting. In fact, I’m playing this waiting game myself right now.

      I would always choose an iPad for someone with little interest in “digging deeper” as you excellently described. I think that technology was once the hobby of the obsessed – as a child, I spent much of my time on computers because they were new and exciting. They were also big off-white boxes that sat in corners and whirred, buzzed and died. These days, everyone has a powerful computer in their pocket and the reliance on technical knowledge is fading. Devices like the iPhone brought so much power to the masses because they omit the overly complicated stuff that turns many consumers off.

      I think your son is a product of a society that has moved past the freshness and “geekyness” of computers and technology, because to his generation they are an absolute necessity as they have never known a world without them. I don’t see it as a bad thing at all. In fact, it means technology is less polarising – you’re no longer a “nerd” because you can use a computer.

      I’ve gone on a bit here but I’d still recommend the iPad, and to wait for an announcement. But also – ask him which system he prefers :)

    • Christine S

      Tim do you write professionally? If not you should, your sincerity and generous attitude shine, i understood everything you said and now i think it is time to try how the other half live, and after talking it over with my husband we both agree that my son should get my samsung 7.7 which has data 4g with verizon and i will get the i pad wi fi only and wait it out.Thank you for understanding and having such a great attitude, christine

    • Christine S

      i feel rather silly of course you write professionally i read your articles on MUO regularly, i do apologize and appreciate the sound advice

  • Guy M

    Maybe we’re supposed to just address the technology here, but I have to address the expectations as well.

    You say he has a ‘need’ for something like a tablet or the newest smartphone, and that it’s important for his education. That’s a ‘want’. Presumably, there is at least one other computer in the house and that should serve his education needs.

    If that will do to serve his needs, you’ve just saved $400 and taught your son something about the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’ and save him tens of thousands over his lifetime.

    • tabbiecat

      she didnt ask your opinioin on her parenting of her child. just which tablet would work best for his age etc

    • Christine S

      Actually need is exactly the word, yes there is one other computer…..mine which no one is to touch especially after purchasing a laptop which my son broke the screen on by shutting it closed with earbuds on the keys, now i have my little asus netbook running windows 8.1 with touch screen and its called a personal computer for a reason, especially since i do alot of my work on my netbook why would i want to invite disaster by sharing. I also do not want to do his papers for him if he doesnt have something for himself, im not a baller and dont feel the need to keep up with the “jones”, however i have learned the hard way that computers, phones, tablets should have the same rule applied to as my tools, no lending or borrowing unless you have the money to replace it if you break it. Thank you tho for trying to save me a buck however i think i am going with a nexus 7 or a reconditioned ipad mini from apple, really great prices with warranty too, thanks again to everyone, christine

    • Guy M

      If I’ve got this right, you’re getting your son a tablet to prevent him from potentially wrecking your stuff. Is that correct?

      Part of the best use of technology is learning a respect for it, and how to take care of your tools. If he doesn’t have that down by now, why buy him a new tool? What happens if, or when, he breaks this tablet?

      If he absolutely needs something to do his reports on, and the school won’t accept handwritten submissions, I’d suggest looking at the Acer Chromebook C7. For $200 he will have a netbook and access to all the applications he will need for at least a few years. Plus it’s easier to type notes on a keyboard than a touch pad. They are also very, very sturdy.

    • Christine S

      Again the wording mr.guy as i staed it is a need and not potententially as he has already broken my last laptop screen, not to mention ok excuse me but do you have teenagers in your house and do you let them use your computers if they are work related? I have a 21 yr. Old daughter who a few years back when i knew diddly squat about anything technology related or how to fix it, did her faceboook and tumbler and such got viruses got tons of xxx stuff which i blamed on my husband and yes your right i do not want him to wreck my stuff just like i do not want people borrowing my tools or using my cosmetics. Its called personal boundaries and that is what i am trying to teach him, respect for the word no, learn how to take care of your own stuff, and respect peoples boundaries. I am not sure why this seems to bother you however your sarcasm is duly noted and shall now be ignored. Play nice mr.guy or leave the sandbox please.christine

  • Oron J

    Google have just announced the new Google Nexus 7, which retails for $230 (or a little more if you want the 32GB version). That ought to satisfy his needs and leave some change in your pocket!

    • christine st.syr griffin

      sorry to everyone who answered, i just received a notice today a week later that my question had been posted, so thank you, all of you, and Oron, i think we are on the same page on this issue after doing tons of research this seems to be the best all around solution. and thank you to Tina S. for her article regarding replacing broken screens.
      thanks a bunch, christine

  • Dalsan M

    By November or October there should be newer models hitting the market. I know that this may not be the best option (especially for a young teen). There are three main operating systems that are widely used on tablets, two of which would be at the upper range of your budget. Android would be at the lower range ($50-500 average) but is very popular. Apple iOS (iPad and iPad Mini) would be at the cutting it close or over your budget ($350-800). Windows (RT for tablet form and Pro version for full PC version) pricing is very similar to Apple, but can be even higher for the Pro version. I wouldn’t really recommend Windows tablets for a teen that wants to be able to have access to tens of thousands of apps and games, so Apple or Android would be recommended.

    Unless going for a used or older version of iPad (iPad 2 would be more than sufficient), then the iPad Mini would be suggested. Only issue would be limited storage for your budget unless a camera card reader would be used (attached to the 30 pin or Lightning plug). If limited storage wouldn’t be an issue (most teens love high storage space), then the iPad 2, 3, or Mini would be very good, especially for the quality you get.

    For android, Google Nexus 7 or Nexus 10 would be highly recommended, though there would be a similar issue with storage capacity. A cheap OTG cable can overcome this and allow for either a memory card reader or flash drive to be connected. Another good option would be an Asus Transformer Pad. There are several versions, so the newer the better. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and Galaxy Note 8 are decent tablets, but have heard more issues with them, even here, than I think they should, so care should be taken with Samsung tablets. My top pick would be for a Nexus tablet.

    • Dalsan M

      Tech Republic just released a review of 7 reasons to buy the new Nexus 7 over the older version (the reviewer’s real life reason for upgrading). http://www.zdnet.com/seven-reasons-to-buy-the-new-google-nexus-7-7000018563/?s_cid=e550&ttag=e550 I think for the price and specifications, it is one of the best deals to get, and might possibly get Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie update by the end of the year (it comes with Android 4.3). It is ready for pre-order now, and I suggest the 32GB version for $269.

    • Christine S

      Wow Dalsan you really know your stuff, thanks for a very detailed lowdown on my dilema, i appreciate you taking the time to help me out, christine

      Ummm now wheres that resolved button?

  • Matt H

    I would definitely consider the Galaxy Tab 2 or the new Galaxy Tab 3. I personally have a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and absolutely love it. Haven’t done a whole lot of research on the Tab 3 but I would assume that it is going to be even better and the 10.1″ version has a MSRP of $399.99.

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