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cheap android tabletI have wanted a tablet for a long time. Ever since Apple released the first iPad, if I’m honest. That’s over two years of wanting, of waiting, of denying myself a new gadget. Mainly because I couldn’t justify the expense for a device I didn’t know how much actual use I’d get out of.

Finally, after doing a little more research than was healthy, I took the plunge and chose a tablet. One which I now own and use every day. It wasn’t an iPad, or even a name-brand Android tablet such as the Transformer Prime or Galaxy Tab The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out While the iPad was able to jump on the tablet market before anyone else, Android tablets from competitors are starting to flow like water. There’s now a wide variety of options available and many of... Read More . Instead it was a generic Android tablet bought from a random third-party seller on Amazon.

My Tablet Of Choice

The tablet I settled on was the 7-inch A710, a cheap Android tablet you can buy from any number of different retailers. It boasts a 5-point multitouch capacitive screen, a 1.2GHz CPU, 8GB of built-in memory expandable to 32GB with a microSD card, and 512MB of RAM. It has USB and Mini HDMI ports, a 2MP front-facing camera, and battery time of around 4 hours.

My tablet came pre-rooted with Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) installed. It also came loaded with Google Play Google Announces Google Play: A New Cloud-Based Service For Google Apps, Music, Movies & Books [News] Google Announces Google Play: A New Cloud-Based Service For Google Apps, Music, Movies & Books [News] Read More , and several other essential apps and widgets.

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OK, so this isn’t an iPad. It’s less powerful, has an inferior screen, a lesser battery, a lesser camera, etc. But then no one, including myself, is claiming this to be an iPad. It serves a different purpose but is more than enough for my particular needs. What follows are the reasons I chose to buy a cheap Android tablet at this juncture.

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Bigger Isn’t Always Better

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I thought about which size of tablet would suit me better for a long time. After trying the 9.7-inch iPad, the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, and everything in between, I decided that a 7-inch screen would be ideal. It’s small enough to hold comfortably in one hand but not too small that writing on the screen is impossible without a stylus.

In landscape mode the A710 is perfect for writing, playing games, and watching streaming video. In portrait mode it’s perfect for reading, whether it be articles saved via Pocket Pocket - The Ultimate Digital Bookmarking Service Pocket - The Ultimate Digital Bookmarking Service As Bakari previously reported, the well loved Read It Later - which enabled users to save articles to read later from a bookmarklet or various apps it was integrated with - was discontinued and replaced... Read More or e-books downloaded to the Kindle app…

No Kindle, No Problem

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I have been interested in buying an Amazon Kindle for a while. As a book lover I felt it would give me an extra opportunity to read books on the go. I had already installed Kindle for PC on my laptop and downloaded various free e-books, but reading on a laptop isn’t ideal. Reading on a 7-inch tablet, however, is as ideal as it gets.

I now read e-books in bed and on the bus, to name just two occasions. And I spent less money buying the tablet which enables me to do so (as well as a lot more besides) than I would have buying a Kindle. The battery life isn’t comparable, and it’s much harder to read in direct sunlight, but it fulfills my needs extremely well.

Money Matters

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The main reason I chose to buy this particular tablet, and to buy it now, is price. I paid £75 ($120) for my A710. It came with a screen protector, a soft case, a USB lead, a USB adapter, and a set of headphones. They may be crappy headphones but that’s besides the point. The price also included shipping, and it was delivered just two days after the order was placed.

Compare all this to the iPad, as I did when I was looking at all the options. The new iPad 5 Reasons The New iPad Sucks [Opinion] 5 Reasons The New iPad Sucks [Opinion] As you're no doubt aware thanks to the blanket coverage all across the Web, Apple unveiled its latest hardware on March 7. That hardware being "the new iPad," or "iPad (third-generation)," or, as most people... Read More retails at £399 in the UK. Or $645. That is more than five times the price I paid. Even the iPad 2 is £329 ($532) in the U.K. I could buy four A710s to give to family members for the price I’d pay for one out-of-date iPad.

A Netbook Of Sorts

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As you may have guessed already I am a freelance writer working from home. But I’m not always at home. My primary device for working on is a 17-inch laptop that has served me well for coming up to three years. But it’s not exactly portable enough to carry everywhere I go. To the point that I have considered buying a netbook to fill that void.

With the addition of a keyboard case which cost me £9 ($15) I can turn my cheap Android tablet into a netbook of sorts. Whenever I need to. It’s small, compact, and easy to operate. All of which makes it perfect for using at those times when it would be impractical to be carting a large laptop around. For $135 I have a tablet and netbook 4 Reasons I'm Glad I Own A Netbook And Not A Tablet [Opinion] 4 Reasons I'm Glad I Own A Netbook And Not A Tablet [Opinion] A key argument is that tablets are killing the "netbook" market. I can see that: if you want a small device with great battery life for browsing the web it's hard to beat a tablet.... Read More rolled into one.

Conclusions

These are the reasons I personally chose to buy a generic Android tablet at this point in time. Some may apply to you, others may not. The point is that the tablet market is expanding at a rate of knots, and there are numerous tablets out there to choose from. The iPad may well be king, and the best tablet money can buy right now, but it’s far from the only option available.

Look out for a follow-up article exploring the reasons anyone considering buying an iPad should first look at the cheap Android tablet alternatives. Until then please let me know your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below. Opinion is free, discussion is good, debate is healthy.

Image Credits: Cheon Fong Liew, Zhao!, bfishadow, Cheon Fong Liew

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