Tablets have always been objects of desire, especially when they hit mainstream with the launch of the original iPad in 2010. They have become increasingly accessible in terms of price and features over the last couple of years, and manufacturers like Samsung have made it a point to populate every price point with one of their tablets. However, branded tablets are still far from being affordable and still sell for a little less than Php20k. And if you want to risk it and try one of those China-made 7inch iPad knock offs, you’re in for a bad time.
Of course, enough time has passed that there are now a number of notable budget tablet options that can give comparable performance compared to their branded brethren without costing a month’s salary. It’s possible to buy a budget Android tablet in the Php5k range that comes with a 1Ghz CPU, 512Mb of RAM, a capacitive screen and ICS out of the box. Of these options, there are two in my mind that stand out for different reasons, and if you want a budget Android tablet that performs like their more expensive branded counterparts, these are the ones you want to buy.
The Bmorn V16 is a surprising little 7 inch Android tablet, not because of exceptional performance, but because of the surprisingly affordable price of Php6500 in the Philippine market. Unlike the plastic back case that you would generally find on a budget tab, it features anodized aluminum that gives it a premium feel. Heck, it even feels more premium than some of the branded 7 inch tabs out there (Here’s looking at you, Samsung).
The screen isn’t exceptional but it gets the job done. It’s a 7 inch, 800×480 TFT capacitive touchscreen that displays decently bright and accurate, but not necessarily vivid colors. The low resolution also means that text will soon start becoming unreadable once you zoom out too far. You will notice this a lot if you read a lot of magazines and high resolution comics on it and try to fit an entire page in portrait mode. Not so much while reading ebooks or just browsing the web in general.
The combination of a 1Ghz CPU and 512Mb of RAM feels snappy enough if you only open one app at a time or don’t use many widgets that display a lot of information (e.g. Facebook, Calendar and Agenda Apps). However, once you start opening more apps at a time, you’ll start to feel the limitation of only 512Mb of RAM. It’s not necessarily a deal breaker for me, as the original 7 inch Galaxy Tab also had the same amount of memory and it did just fine.
One particularly notable feature of the Bmorn that I like is that it comes with Bluetooth 2.1. You might think that Bluetooth is too basic a feature to even be writing about, but it’s actually quite rare for budget Android tablets to feature one. A lot of these manufacturers forgo a lot of connectivity options such as Bluetooth, GPS and 3G just to keep costs down. Thankfully, the Bmorn V16 doesn’t, so you can use Bluetooth devices such as keyboards and headsets and keep things clean looking by eliminating the wires.
Other notable features include 8Gb of internal storage, which is expandable up to 32Gb via MicroSD. Also, like any decent tablet, it comes with WiFi 802.11 b/g/n for browsing the web. The battery is pretty pedestrian with a rating of 3,500 mAh. Still, that should be enough for 3-4 hours of heavy gaming, 4-5 hours of WiFi web browsing, and 5-6 hours of reading ebooks. Except for the screen resolution and limited RAM, there’s a lot this budget Android tablet doesn’t compromise on.
Bmorn V16 Spec Sheet
- Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich
- 1Ghz Boxchip A13 CPu
- 512 Mb RAM
- 8Gb Internal Storage, expandable up to 32Gb
- 7″ 800×480 TFT capacitive touchscreen display
- 0.3mp front facing camera
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth 2.1
- 3,500 mAh battery
If you don’t want to compromise on performance but don’t want to spend 18-20k on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, The Ainol Aurora probably the best budget Android tablet you can get right now. What is especially impressive about the Aurora is its screen. It features a 7 inch, 1024×600 capacitive IPS LCD touchscreen. IPS is the same LCD technology used on iPads that give them very wide viewing angles and rich color reproduction. You’ll notice that the resolution is also higher than that of the Bmorn V16, which is at 800×480. That means text is sharper even when zoomed out, making it a more pleasurable experience to surf the web and read ebooks, magazines, and comics on this thing.
The build quality of the Aurora isn’t bad, but the Bmorn is better simply because of the more premium materials. The Aurora makes use of glossy plastic that initially looks nice, but start attracting fingerprints like crazy. It’s durable enough, but there’s a bit of flex when you apply a good amount of pressure on the back case, so you might want to get this with a protective case.
The CPU on the Aurora is rated at 1.2Ghz and it has 1Gb of both RAM and ROM. That extra bit of RAM will allow you to use more widgets on your homescreens and run more apps at the same time without slowing the whole system down, and the 1Gb of ROM is where you will be installing all of your apps, so obviously that’s a ton of apps you can have installed at any one time. It comes coupled with either 8Gb or 16Gb of internal storage and is expandable up to 32Gb via MicroSD.
The Ainol Aurora’s wireless connectivity gives you WiFi 802.11 b/g/n but no Bluetooth. Like I said, Bluetooth is actually a rare feature on these inexpensive tabs. It’s not a biggie though, and it helps keep the cost down to a very acceptable Php7,500. Not bad for a tablet that has almost all the basics covered, especially when you consider that the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, which is the cheapest branded option from Samsung, is selling for Php14,800 through some gray market sellers in the Philippines.
Ainol Aurora Spec Sheet
- Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich
- 1.2Ghz Allwinner A10 CPU
- 1Gb RAM, 1Gb ROM
- 8/16Gb Internal Storage, expandable up to 32Gb
- 7″ 1024×600 capacitive IPS touchscreen display
- 2mp front facing camera
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- 3,700 mAh battery
- Price: Php7,500