The 5 under the radar tablets you should check out

If you're looking for a tablet for less than £100 (US$150, AU$150) that won't embarrass you in front of your big spending friends, this is the device for you.

(Thanks to eBuyer for sending us our review sample.)

Cambridge Sciences StarPad 7

5 budget tablets tested

Price: £100 (around US$155/AU$160)
Score: 2/5

Don't let the nutty-professor-like name of Cambridge Sciences put you off - the tablet does that all by itself.

At 7 inches it shares some kinship with the brilliant Google Nexus 7, but that's where the similarities end. The 8GB Wi-Fi-only model that we reviewed comes with a standard definition 800 x 480 screen resolution that looks pixelated, stretched and generally not appealing.

You might think £99 (around US$155, AU$160) is a fair price given the spec, but as you'll see from the Acer Iconia B1, you can get more for the same cash.

5 budget tablets tested

The multi-touch capacitive screen is responsive and you won't find yourself touching links or apps multiple times for it to action them. There is, however, a problem with resizing web pages using the stock browser that comes with Android Jelly Bean.

Web pages fail to resize themselves correctly and, in some cases, the page will get stuck in this continuous loop of resizing attempts that makes it look like it's going into anaphylactic shock. This means you'll be stuck waiting for the web page to load for up to 30 seconds, or not at all.

Web pages generally seem to load slowly, and the Wi-Fi connection isn't as strong as other tablets we tried that are in the same vicinity. Although the speed of the internet connection is questionable, the actual speed of the device is reasonably quick, which is surprising, given that it's running off a single-core 1.5GHz processor. Switching between a web browser and Netflix and a game didn't present any immediate problems.

5 budget tablets tested

The build quality is solid, so it will definitely withstand an outing with the kids, and it comes with multiple connections such as a microSD card slot, HDMI, USB and a microphone port, which adds extra functionality to the device (plugging it into your TV or adding extra storage) that some of the bigger brand tablets don't include.

The 2MP rear-facing camera is predictably poor and reminiscent of early camera phones, but with 8GB of onboard memory you'll be able to take plenty of pictures without taking up too much room.

5 budget tablets tested

Quick verdict

The Cambridge Sciences StarPad 7 is one of the cheapest tablets on the market, and the connectivity options make it an attractive low-end tablet. And, as an added bonus, it comes with Flash 11.1 built-in, which is a contentious issue for other tablets.

But there's no escaping the StarPad's obvious flaws - the ugly screen, questionable Wi-Fi connection, web browser resizing and the fact that it randomly switches off will irritate and infuriate in equal measure. If you're looking to casually browse the net or read a book, you'll be sorely disappointed. At this price, you're better off with an Acer Iconia B1.

Zoostorm PlayTab

5 budget tablets tested

Price: £120 (around US$190/AU$195)
Score: 1/5

The Zoostorm PlayTab epitomises the word 'budget'. From its plastic casing to its Duplo design, it feels like corners have been cut at every opportunity. For a 10.1-inch tablet it's surprisingly light, and for all of its faults it does boast an impressive range of ports, slots and connections.

The TFT capacitive multi-touch screen has a resolution of 1200 x 800, which is just slightly worse than reasonable for a 10.1-inch screen. Running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, pictures and browsing look stretched and washed out, but it's not a complete nightmare.

The screen is responsive and navigating between tasks is quick. The plastic screen, however, is unusually abrasive on the fingers, which makes it feel like you're trying to run your thumb down a dry car window.