Update: It's still a rather quiet period of top cheap tablets, with few new budget options making their way onto the market. The hope is 2017 will pick up for our best budget tablets list, but for now you'll have to make do with a selection of slightly older - but still great - slates.
It's a strange time for tablets. There haven't been many exciting releases, and the most fascinating tech is restricted to the top end of the market.
We've put a selection of the most affordable tablets together, including the iPad mini 2 and a selection of Amazon slates, but we're hoping we get some brand new entries for our best cheap tablets list this year.
There are a number of high quality affordable slates available, and the following are our favourite choices for the best cheap tablet you can buy right now.
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5. Amazon Fire
The cheapest tablet around that's worth buying
Weight: 313g | Dimensions: 115 x 191 x 10.6mm | OS: Fire OS 5 | Screen size: 7-inch | Resolution: 1024 x 600 | CPU: Quad-core 1.3GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Rear camera: 2MP | Front camera: VGA
Amazon has gone for the lowest price possible on the new Fire tablet, and that means it's not for everybody. You can now pick it up for just £34.99 - that's a true cheap tablet - and Amazon thinks you'll want six around your home as well as giving one to your kids.
Considering the price, it has some good spec and has a sturdy design that isn't going to break right away. It can't handle blockbuster games, and movies won't look great on screen, but for a web-browsing, e-reading, emailing machine it does the job.
If money is your biggest factor, the Amazon Fire may be the one for you.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire
- What's next? Amazon's cheapest tablet is due an update - it launched a year and a half ago - and with the recent price drop it suggests the retail giant may be looking to shift remaining stock to make way for a new model.
4. Asus ZenPad S 8.0
A slick, professional slate with a great screen and performance
Weight: 350g | Dimensions: 203 x 134 x 6.6mm | OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop | Screen size: 8 inches | Resolution: 2048 x 1536 | CPU: Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core | RAM: 2/4GB | Storage: 16/32/64GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 8 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP
The Asus ZenPad S 8.0 - also known as the Asus ZenPad Z580C - is a great value tablet with a premium looking design.
It's one of the best looking slates on this list and packs a surprising 10 hour battery life, microSD support as well as a great 8-inch screen. The best part though is the price, it's only £129.99.
Don't want to spend much on your new tablet? This choice from Asus is one of the best options for you.
Read the full review: Asus ZenPad S 8.0
- What's next? If you're looking for something newer from Asus, check out our ZenPad 3S 10 review - it's not cheap enough to feature in our best budget tablet list, but it does represent great value for money. In terms of a follow up to the ZenPad S 8.0, we're currently looking at IFA 2017 in September.
3. Amazon Fire HD 10 and HD 8
Amazon's latest slates are excellent child fodder
Weight: 432g/311g | Dimensions: 159 x 262 x 7.7mm/128 x 214 x 7.7mm | OS: Fire OS 5 | Screen size: 10.1-inch/8-inch | Resolution: 1,280 x 800 | CPU: Quad-core 1.5GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16GB/8GB | Battery: up to 8 hours | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: VGA
If you're in the market for a low cost tablet with up to date specs then the new Amazon Fire HD 8 and HD 10 deliver.
They won't bless you with a stunning display, sultry design or slick performance - but they will give you enough grunt under the hood to play even the most demanding of games.
The heavily modified Android interface (known as Fire OS) may not be to everyone's liking, but for less tech savvy users it's arguably less cluttered and easier to use.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10 and HD 8
- What's next? Amazon's premium tier of tablets - which are still extremely affordable - are also due an upgrade having launched way back in September 2015. There's no word that we'll see new tablets in the near future, so September 2017 is probably the most likely launch for the next generation at the moment.
2. Amazon Fire HD 6
If you live on Amazon you'll want a Fire
Weight: 290g | Dimensions: 169 x 103 x 10.7mm | OS: Fire OS 5 | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 800 x 1280 | CPU: Quad-core 1.5GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB/16GB | Rear camera: 2MP | Front camera: VGA
The Amazon HD 6 may be showing its age, but it's still a top-notch tablet for the money, which is why it features so highly in our best budget tablet list.
It's no tablet king, but it does what it sets out to well. Its crazy low price tag means it's perfect to hand off to the kids without the fear that they're wielding an expensive bit of kit around.
It may be too small for some, and the cameras aren't up to much, but the Fire HD 6 gives you the core tablet experience for not very much outlay, making it a budget tablet worth buying.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 6
- What's next? The Amazon HD 6 may be showing its age, and seeing as it's one of Amazon's best slates to date we hope we'll see a 2017 version in the coming months.
1. iPad Mini 2
The best value iPad out there
Weight: 331g | Dimensions: 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 1.3GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16/32/64/128GB | Battery: 6470mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
What's this? The iPad Mini 2 in a list of the best cheap tablets? Why yes. It may be a premium slate but it's been superseded by the iPad Mini 4 and the already discontinued iPad Mini 3, and as such it's dropped in price to under £250.
Better yet, as the iPad Mini 3 is basically the same tablet with added Touch ID you hardly miss out on anything by buying this older model, though you do miss out on the power-boost found in the iPad Mini 4.
Still, with a brilliant screen, a stunning design and quite a lot of power the iPad Mini 2 is difficult to beat at this price point. It looks, feels and performs like something far more expensive making it our favorite budget tablet you can buy in 2017.
Read the full review: Apple iPad Mini 2
- What's next? The iPad Mini 2 isn't the latest pint-sized slate from Apple, we've seen the iPad Mini 3 and iPad Mini 4 launch since the 2's arrival back in November 2013 - but the Mini 3 is dead and the Mini 4 is still more than the magic £250. We are due a new small slate though, with it being nearly two years since the fourth gen launched. Keep an eye out this September/October.
- Got a bit extra to spend? Here are the best tablets in the world right now