Buyers Guide: Buying a low cost tablet PC

There are many low cost tablets flooding the Indian markets starting from Rs. 2,500.  Will you buy a tablet just because it is cheaper or do you look at the hardware specifications too? This guide will help you understand certain features and the minimum specifications that you should be looking for.

As you all know there are two low cost tablets available in India, the much talked about Aakash and Aakash 2 which seems to be taking its own time and the newly launched Penta-BSNL tablets. These tablets come with minimal basic features and if you are looking for more and better quality you can look for other brands, the price will increase accordingly.

Processor – Speed does matter

If you are planning to buy a low cost tablet makes sure you get at least 800 MHz or more processing power, the higher the better.  Aakash 1 was a disaster as it had just 366 MHz processing speed. There is no word about the Aakash 2 but as per sources the speed may be around 800 MHz.

The BSNL – Penta is better with 1 GHz processing power. With a faster processer the tablet will run smoother and will multitask better. Dual core processor or quad core processors are very powerful but you will not get these on low cost tablet PCs.

low cost tablet buying guide (India)

low cost tablet buying guide (India)

Display Screen

Low cost tablets like Aakash and BSNL-Penta comes with a 7 inch resistive touchscreen. Capacitive touchscreen tablets are priced over Rs. 8,000. Resistive touchscreen are not that smooth and un responsive at times. If you have used a capacitive touchscreen before you will find it difficult to get used to a resistive screen.  As far as the size is concerned low cost tablets will come with a minimum 7 inches screen.

Make sure the tablet supports 800 x 480 pixels resolution the Aakash 1 supports 800 by 480 but the upgraded version may support 800 by 600 pixels resolution. Anything below this is no good. You should also not expect too many sensors on a low cost tab but it should at least come with the G-Sensor (for screen rotation).

Internal / External storage

Low cost tablets will come with minimal internal flash storage capacity but what you should be looking for is if it supports microSD cards or other external storage cards.

Camera

Aakash 2 tab may not come with any camera but the BSNL Penta does come with a VGA camera that can be used for video chatting. As far as the camera is concerned (on low cost tablets) you should really not be worried about, it’s an extra feature some may have it some may not.

Audio / Speakers

Internal speakers are present on high end tablet models. The cheap tablets do not come with any internal speaker but they do come with audio ports to plugin external headsets.

Operating System

Google Android OS is what many manufacturers prefer, its open source and popular. As a consumer make sure you buy a tablet with minimum Android 2.3 OS – the higher version the better. Also note that you cannot upgrade the OS. On high end tablets the manufacturers supports upgrades but on low cost tablets I doubt it. Android is the most popular OS and you can also download many apps from the android market.

3G/ Phone Functionality / 3G Dongle /USB

I have got mail from many users asking if they can make or receive calls from low cost tablets. The tablet may support 3G or External 3G. There is a difference between the two. If a tablet comes with built in SIM slot that can house any SIM card with 3G support you can make / receive calls, in other words the tablet can perform like a mobile phone. But if the tablet supports external 3G it means you can connect USB dongle for net connectivity, but you cannot make / receive calls.

The battery life on low cost tablets are anyway not that good and it does not make sense having phone features on these tablets that too without internal speakers and mic. You will find USB options only on low cost tablets which can be used for connecting pen drive or 3G dongle etc.

Video call / Video chat

For video calls you need a front facing camera. You can use SKYPE to video chat with your friends using Wi-Fi or 3G and if the tab supports internal 3G you will be able to make video call too.

Connectivity

Almost all low cost and expensive tablets come with Wi-Fi, but only expensive tablets come with Bluetooth, GPS etc.

Battery

Expensive tablets can last for more than 8 hours but you cannot expect the same from low cost tablets. Look out for tablet that has a decent backup time of more than 5 to 6 hours. The higher the battery mAh, the better. Another known problem with low cost tab is they heat up pretty quickly.

Price

If you have the money go for a better and more powerful tablet. The tablet price range in India starts from Rs. 2,500 and for under Rs. 15,000 you can get a decent worthy tablet (including the BlackBerry Playbook).

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