Top 3 Budget Tablets For Educators To Use In School And Child Care Classrooms

Top 3 Budget Tablets For Educators

Documentation in the classroom is shifting from paper to digital and it is becoming increasingly affordable for educators to make the transition. From my experiences speaking with early childhood educators, there is a common misconception about the cost of tablets.

To set the record straight, we’ve done a review of tablets providing good value. Last year we did a post about choosing the right tablet for your child care and early learning programs that evaluated the criteria to look for in tablets and suggested some of the best choices in various price ranges. The iPad still seems to be the go-to choice for many educational programs, so this year we’ve decided to focus on alternatives.

This year’s review focuses on tablets in the sub $200 price range (a couple retailers sell models just above the $200 price point). Our analysis considered both critic reviews, as well as consumer ratings, and resulted in the following category winners:

  1. Ultra Budget Tablets Category ($75 to $125 range)
    Winner: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite (Retail Price ~$120 to $130)
    We believe the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite, with a long battery life for the ultra budget price point, to be the best tablet in this category. It runs on Android 4.2, has a 2MP rear-facing camera, 7 inch screen with 1024 x 600 pixel resolution and a 1.2GHz processor. Primary downsides are the lower screen resolution and performance (i.e., computing speed), but you can’t really ask for much more at this price. Alternatives in the Ultra Budget Tablets Category include the Acer Iconia B1 series, Amazon Fire HD 6, and HP 7 Plus.
  2. Budget Tablets Category ($125 to $175 range)
    Winner: ASUS MeMO Pad Series (Retail Price ~$125 to $170)
    The ASUS MeMO Pad series of tablets includes the MeMO Pad HD 7, MeMO Pad 8 and MeMO Pad ME17X models which vary in price, but which are all winners in this category. The lower end of the series, the MeMO Pad HD 7, runs on Android 4.4, has a 2MP rear-facing camera, 7 inch screen with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution and a 1.33GHz processor. Primary downsides are the camera quality and build quality. For example, a number of early years programs using HiMama with the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 have reported cracked screens, even with the use of cases. Alternatives in the Budget Tablets Category include the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7, Lenovo IdeaTab S5000, Dell Venue 8, and HiSense Sero 7.
  3. Economical Tablets Category ($175 to $225 range)
    Winner: Galaxy Nexus 7 (2013 model) (Retail Price ~$175 to $210)
    The Galaxy Nexus 7 (2013 model) is the clear winner in the Economical category with excellent performance, a crisp display, and above average battery life. The Nexus 7 runs on Android 4.3, has a 5MP rear-facing camera, 7 inch screen with 1900 x 1200 pixel resolution and a 1.5GHz processor. The display and camera quality are a big jump up from the winners in the more budget categories. Alternatives in the Economical Tablets Category include the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, Lenovo IdeaTab A8, and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7.

It is no big surprise that the ASUS MeMO Pad series and Google Nexus 7 have made our winners list for the second year in a row. However, opening up our review to the lower end of the tablet market brought some great new options into play. This was viable this year as tablets in the $100 to $125 price range are now powerful enough for documenting learning in the classroom setting.

There are tablets outside those mentioned in this review that may also work for you, however, make sure you read reviews online and I would suggest comparing specs to the category winners mentioned here. Remember that screen size, battery life and camera specifications are important considerations for tablets that you plan to use in the classroom.

Happy shopping!