Which Android Tablet is Right for You? [AFFORDABLE ALTERNATIVES]


With the tablet explosion that has occurred in the past year, some of you might be doing some tablet research for the first time.  So, which device is right for you?

Various Android Tablets

The Premium Tablets (XOOM, Galaxy Tab, Optimus Pad)

The Motorola XOOM 10.1″ tablet is the newest Android tablet while the Galaxy Tab is currently the reigning 7″ champion.  In addition to these current offerings, Samsung has a new 10.1” tablet coming out soon along with an 8.9” tablet coming from LG called the Optimus Pad.  While you are considering these “high end” devices, there are a slew of other Android tablets available of which many people may not even be aware.

If you want the Tablet to work right out of the box without any modding or hacking, your best options currently are the Xoom or the Galaxy Tab.  The Xoom is a more capable device based on specs alone, but if you are looking for a 7″ screen, the Galaxy Tab may be more appealing to you.  These devices get a lot of media attention, and rightfully so, but maybe they are a little out of your price range?  Don’t worry…you don’t have to feel completely left out!

Aside from the premium tablets, there are several other devices available in a variety of sizes and at different price points.  Archos has several tablets ranging in sizes from 3.2″ all the way up to 10″.  The ViewSonic gTablet sports the same Tegra2, dual-core processor found in the Motorola Xoom and it has a 10.1” screen of its own.  And let’s not to forget the unlikely competitor with the 7″ Android powered NOOKcolor by Barnes & Noble.

If you don’t mind performing some tweaks, you can pick up a very capable device at a fairly low price.  While there are many “budget” tablets currently available, we will highlight a few of the most popular.  Here is a basic rundown of some various tablets you might want to consider:

Archos Gen 8 Tablets (28, 32, 43, 70, and 101 models):

You will most likely want to install the Android Market on these devices as soon as you open the box.  The tablets all come with a secondary market pre-installed from the manufacturer but the number of available apps is not comparable with Android Market.  It is a very simple process and should not scare off even the most novice user.  If you want to stop there, you can.  You DO NOT have to root your device to add the Android market, this WILL NOT void your warranty, and you will be able to install future OTA firmware upgrades without worry.

Further community development for the Archos tablets is rather slow at this time.  There aren’t any custom ROMs (aka “firmware” or “operating system”) to speak of and the only real tweaks you can do just make the device run a little faster and remove the 256MB installed app storage limit.  The 28 (2.8” screen) and 32 (3.2” screen) models are a little lacking with 800MHz processors and both have resistive touch screens.  The 43 (4.3” screen), 70 (7” screen), and 101 (10.1” screen) models all sport a 1GHz processor and have the ever convenient kickstand (where is that on the high-end tablets?), and the latter two of those have a capacitive, multi-touch LCD screen.

The biggest downfall of these devices is the 256MB of RAM vs. the 512MB seen on the comparable devices listed below.  But these Archos tablets are valued priced as shown here (all models expandable via micro USB):

  • $199.99 – 43 internet tablet
  • $249.99 – 8GB 70 internet tablet
  • $299.99 – 250GB 70 internet tablet (yeah…that’s 250GB!)
  • $299.99 – 8GB 101 internet tablet
  • $349.99 – 16GB 101 internet tablet

Viewsonic gTablet:

It seems like this tablet had a pretty rocky start in the retail stores.  The few retail stores that carried this device pulled them off the shelves initially because of the many software issues that plagued it.  So why is it a viable choice?  Because the Android developer community has turned out some excellent ROMs that rid the device of the custom firmware that ViewSonic implemented on this device.

To say ViewSonic missed the mark might be a bit of an understatement.  But after doing a little modding, you will have a smoothly running, future proofed 10.1” tablet with a dual-core processor that will give you “high end” specs at a pretty reasonable price of about $399.99 (but if you shop around and you may find one for less than that).

The device has been criticized since its release for having poor viewing angles but most owners appear to say that is an issue that was blown slightly out of proportion.  Fact is that this device has high-end specs at a mid level price.  The NVIDIA Tegra2 1.0GHz processor, and 512MB of RAM set this apart from the other budget tablets. You won’t find 3G connectivity here, but an excellent choice if you are looking for a wifi only powerhouse and don’t mind installing one of the aftermarket ROMs to replace the factory installed operating system.

Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor:

So it is probably not new news to many of our readers that the NOOKcolor e-reader can transform into a functional Android tablet.  This little powerhouse may not “wow” the people chasing down the high-end tablets, but it is quite possibly the best value of any device currently running the Android OS.  For $250 (or less), you will have an 800MHz powered device capable of running Honeycomb (albeit, not perfected just yet) with a high resolution 1080×600 capacitive, 7” multi-touch LCD.  The highest stable overclock is currently 1.1GHz and the 512MB of RAM is a nice touch that the Archos tablets are missing.

Bottom line…the NOOKcolor was born to be a tablet and not just an innocent little e-reader!  The build quality of this device is stellar which makes it a tad on the heavy side but it is very thin and feels nice to hold.  Once again, this device requires some modding but most users do not have problems with it.  If you do run into problems, you can rest assured that your device is not “bricked” (meaning the device will not boot and there is NOTHING you can do to fix it).  The NOOKcolor will always boot from SD card if you have a disk image loaded on it.  So if you delete your recovery image, along with your firmware do not panic…just burn a disk image to a SD card and salvation is just minutes away.  Because this device is almost completely unbrickable, that may offer beginners a little piece of mind.  In reality, most devices are hard to completely foul up.  But if we were going to crown a winner for being the hardest to brick, the NOOKcolor would get my vote.

What’s best for you?

So first, you should figure out what you are going to do with an Android tablet.  Does the extent of your everyday use entail surfing the web, checking out Phandroid, watching YouTube videos, listening to music, watching movies, and checking out new music videos with the free VEVO app?  If so, maybe you are better off with one of the surprisingly capable, yet surprisingly affordable tablets.

Every user needs to find a device that meets their specific requirements and budget.  Don’t forget to head over to the tablet specific section of our forums to help you with your buying decision.  There are many active conversations taking place right now that may just help you find the right device for you.


And if you’ve already purchased an Android tablet, what device did you choose and why?

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  1. My Nook Color along with the extra $500-$600 in my pocket say its hard to beat.

  2. What is best for me is the galaxy tab 10.1.

  3. I want the xoom! but the nook color is more in my price range…

  4. I’ve got an Archos 70 and the 256mb of ram (which equals less than 140mb free memory on device startup) is a huge weakness. Getting more app storage space requires you to void the warranty – which sucks as well.

  5. The ADAM was voted best gadget at CES 2010 but so many people leave them out. http://www.notionink.com for the Adam. offers more than the alot of these tabs. it’s lacking HC but will soon have that shortly and you can get a WIFI only ver for $325.

  6. Had the Archos 70 and liked it but as the above poster said the RAM killed it. Switched to a B&N Nook and after 5 minute root..have a very capable table for $200. the 7″ form factor is what is right for me.

  7. XOOM is definitely the tablet for me, as soon as it hits Denmark, that is… Come on, Come on, Come on!

  8. I am hearing viewsonic has (will have soon?) a new update which makes their “stock” much much better…

  9. Have no use for a tablet when I’ve got a smartphone and laptop that does everything I need. I’ll spend my money on more important things. Nice write up though.

  10. Would be nice to see more tablets with 250 gig HDD but I wouldn’t get an archos

  11. The gtablet would be a great buy if there was a fully functional Honeycomb ROM.

  12. The G Tablet’s primary ‘feature’, is that the OEM has basically sold you the hardware, and is linking you up to the dev community.

    It’s a wonderful experience knowing that rooting your device does NOT void it’s warranty. And, being able to buy it in retail stores is a plus.

    Now, Archos might be getting $200 of mine soon. The Archos 28 makes a pretty decent SIP phone and media player.

  13. Does the Nook Color run Flash?

  14. Got a Nook last weeks while it was on ebay for $200 – a fantastic deal. Running Honeycomb with nearly all functions working (Bluetooth and DSP missing).

  15. I have a Gen8 Archos 101 tablet. Keeping in mind that it runs on 2.2 (without an official Flash release), it’s ok…not the best. I will buy a Wifi Xoom once it’s released, and I’m pretty sure I will never touch the Archos 101 ever again (probably sell it…definitely).

  16. G Tab baby……when you Mod it, works like a champ and does oh so much…..Thanks to the great XDA team and a special call out to roebeet.

  17. I ordered a Nook Color which I plan on rooting and running the latest version of Honeycomb of. I was SERIOUSLY considering the gTablet but I don’t think I need a screen that big and play the Nook’s screen appears to be superior at a lower price point. Don’t need video chat for my Tab since my Evo covers that area.

  18. “If you want the Tablet to work right out of the box without any modding or hacking, your best options currently are the Xoom or the Galaxy Tab.”


  19. I’m waiting for the Asus eee pad transformer. Should hopefully be released in april.

  20. Why should I buy a tablet because currently I think they’re useless

  21. My Nook Color rocks! I’m a big wimp when it comes to modding any tech, but after doing a lot of research I went with the NC. The great support and instruction on the forums made it so easy to mod this baby, and the cash I saved – BONUS! Now I’ve got a great little e-reader by day, and a rockin’ tablet by night!

  22. Just picked up my new tablet yesterday at the US/Canada border… I did it all for the NOOKie!

  23. You needed to put more emphasis on the gslate in the top three. Also addressing which budget tablets have FFC as an option. I have seen spec comparison charts on other sites. Phandroid should do this for phones and tablets. PS doesnt the gslate have a kickstand?

  24. Gtab 7″ here. Absolutely love it as is. Can’t wait to play around with the roms available. I use it mainly for work and sadly have no use for my workhorse X anymore now that I’ve switched to a dumb phone for voice. And trust me once you go tablet (except for the iPad which is crippled shit) there is no going back. My X’s screen seems so puny now.

  25. Waiting for a complete 3.0 image to hit the nook color, then I’m all set :) Ran the preview from deeper-blue and was blown away by it.

  26. I use an Archos 70 for work and as an e reader. It does a good job; I don’t do games so I can’t comment on that end. My wife purchased our 4 year old an Archos 43. As opposed to the above statement, it is resistive. Wish I had known. Still good for his games and movies though.

  27. I’m typing this from a moving train on my Nook Color,which is tethered to my SE X10 over WiFi. And tonight I’m going to try GPS tethering too, which if works, will make this little tough boy worth every penny.

  28. Im personally waiting for the toshiba one, but ive considered the gtab several times

  29. I want an Archos 70 just because of the 250GB hard drive. I’ve been looking at it as a replacement for my iPod which is a piece of crap right now (and i’m not saying that because it’s an Apple product, it really does suck right now).

    But the mixed reviews on it are making me question whether I should go for it or not.


    Knowing me though, I’ll probably just go ahead and take the plunge.

  30. I am writing this from the best tablet ever, the notion ink ADAM!

  31. Waiting for the wireless xoom. Using my tax refund on that vs the 3G since I now have root and can use Wifi tether for free. I want Honeycomb.

  32. I have the g tab and I am waiting on honey comb also but tnt lite 4.2.4 is lovely.

  33. Picked up the g-tab back in November and LOVE it! Had CM 6.1 rocking 5 minutes after I opened it up. CAN’T WAIT FOR HONEYCOMB!!!

  34. I have the NookColor right now. I bought the device solely just for reading my ebooks, lots and lots of PDF files to take it with me to study on-the-go (that’s military life for you…), checking my emails and what not, and finally to watch my digital copy of movies. The rest of what the NookColor isn’t capable of doing since my is not rooted, my Droid Incredible picks up the slacks (i.e. watching flash videos, games, Apps, and secured online transactions).

  35. @ Joe #20, because it’s something new and these big corporations know that idiotic Americans buy crap they don’t need all the time just so they can show it off to their friends and then throw it in the drawer to collect dust. Most people have a smartphone in their pocket that will do the exact same thing these tablets will and guess what, it fits in your pocket! What a concept I know! I can’t wait until I see some geek hold a 10″ tablet up to his ear and carry on a conversation or record a video using one. These things are useless unless you’ve got a long flight to China or on a road trip with the kids. As an everyday device, it’s nothing your phone or pc won’t do. I don’t see them as laptop killers and in this economy I don’t see them selling too many of them. I do look foward to seeing the end of the year sales figures on these things.

  36. GTab is great. It’s like an identical brother to the Adam (EXACT same insides), so everything that works on Adam works on GTab, even the custom Eden rom and apps.

    GTablet is SUPER Hackable, and you can easily make it awesome.

    Also, NotionInkHacks has a bounty over $1100 for the first Honeycomb port to the Adam tablet, and like I said, they are brothers. With the bounty that high, it wont be long until we see a Honeycomb ROM.

  37. for me the best one that ive seen and have is the dell streak 7 from tmobile just awesome.i love it .

  38. ViewSonic G tablet, just bought. Having fun learning how to completely overhaul and customize. Currently running TnT Lite 4.2.5 Poor man’s tab with some serious hardware!!

  39. why not mention dell streak 7 I have it and it is great the viewing angle doesnt bother me at all and battery life is not all that bad as far as gaming the games made for dual cores work fantastic on this tablet I am just hoping for honeycomb on this soon.

  40. Nook Color running Honeycomb preview. Love it. Perfect size for me, too.

  41. My Nookcolor has been an awesome device since day one. It has been an inspiration to me to get me more involved with the DEV side of android. And obviously the price and highly unbrickable nature make it an awesome choice for budding developers.

  42. I tested a lot of tablets out there to see what meets my needs. And I feel I view tablets different than most. I look at tablets like I do my phone, as a gateway device. There is absolutely nothing I saved on my phone that I would hate to lose, everything resides on the internet.

    I run a service business and I am looking for a tablet as an extension to my phone. Bigger screen for viewing google docs, equipment specs, processing square payments etc. The g tab looks great but back camera is a deal killer need the camera for square payment processing. 10 inch screens are great but I found 7 inch works just right. I don’t need internet just wifi I can tether to my phone. So hopefully the htc flyer comes out soon.

  43. waiting for toshiba to release price. its perfect tablet. no carrier based crapola, just wifi and full size SD card reader. full size USB port for giggles.

  44. Ordered an Adam from preorder 2, hope it ships soon.
    But i really want the Asus Transformer, love the detachable dock/keyboard!

  45. I have the notion ink adam and have played around on the archos, xoom, galaxy tab, the big ipod touch, and have to say it takes all with some minor adjusting. When we get some more developers for it, I am sure whatever kinks are there will be ironed out. This is only my opinion though so take it with a grain of salt.

  46. What is the price on G-slate?

  47. I bought the Xoom, its possibly the best computer type purchase I’ve made since my IBM 386. Don’t believe the hype, it’s a better value than a comparable ipad. Andy Rubin must have been Bill Gates’s cousin or something.

  48. I’m torn between 7″ and 10″ tablets…
    I can’t wait to get my hands on a 8,9 inch one as I suspect it could be the perfect size for me.

  49. Will the Galaxy 10.1 inch Honeycomb Tablet have a Super AMOLED Screen?

  50. I love my Notion Ink Adam.

  51. I was really looking hard at the Archos but it just was not in stock soon enough, only because easier to find after the next gen tablets were out.. but it really is a nice looking tablet. Will be going WiFi Xoom though, I waited this long.. just a lil longer to go…

  52. got adam its ok but really needs honeycomb already with android market and any one know how to download movies to it

  53. I’m running the Archos 70 right now (typing this on it to be exact.) All in all it’s a good little sidearm for me, though I have to say, I’m ready for someone to release a Honeycomb ROM for it (more for fun than function.) I do have to say though, I laugh when I hear people saying 2.2 doesn’t scale up well enough for tablets, when everything I run on my Droid runs just as well (and looks just as good) on my Archos. In fact, that’s the whole reason I got a 7″ tablet, I was sick of how crippled Froyo felt on a small screen. 7″ is the sweet spot for Froyo/Gingerbread. Big enough to be useful but not so big as to feel stretched out…IMHO.

  54. iPad 2 for sure. Tried xoom and you can tell it’s practically a beta device

  55. I’m quite happy with my archos 101. It’s an excellent media player and ebook reader. More ram and app storage space would be nice, but it does the job as it is.

  56. @Andrew gtfo

  57. I hopped on the Viewsonic gTablet train around Christmas. Loved the specs for the price point. But even after rooting and tossing on a rom, it just never quite offered the performance I expected. I am sure the devs have tweaked things & gotten it running better nowadays, but still not sure it’s worth the $400. BTW, I returned it shortly after the new year.

  58. Typing from an Archos 70it from months now…
    So light compared to others…
    So good to browse the internet…
    So good to watch DivX…
    So good that i bought a 101it to my girfriend…
    So good to make ipad owners look dumb when i do all that.
    Drawbacks? Of course… but not meaningful.

  59. If you want to know how to make your nook color able to use Honeycomb, check out this interesting blog:

  60. So you have the tablet, but you need the best games for Android too. http://bestandroidgamesonline.com

  61. So you have the tablet, but you need the best games for Android too. http://bestandroidgamesonline.com

  62. So you have the tablet, but you need the best games for Android too. http://bestandroidgamesonline.com

  63. Update this list with the Asus Eee Transformer. That’s the one that’s going to challenge the iPad2.

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