‘Tis the season for cheapie tablets. They’re everywhere, and they cost $89, $79, even $59. About the only place I haven’t seen one is at a convenience store. But you don’t want them. They’re always underpowered and cheaply built, so they’ll be frustratingly slow to use and the hardware is likely to start failing after a year or so.
But this weekend I saw a budget tablet that hits all of the minimums, for $99, at an unlikely place: Aldi. Yes, the discount grocery store. It’s called the Medion Lifetab.Let’s talk minimums. At minimum, you want a 1024×600 screen, 1 GB of RAM, at least a 1 GHz dual-core processor, and 8 GB of storage. For security reasons, you want nothing older than Android 4.1.2. And if it has an SD card slot, that would be better.
Aldi meets all those minimums and exceeds a couple of them by a little. The CPU is 1.4 GHz (likely a Mediatek or Rockchip, but serviceable) and it ships with Android 4.2.
Not only that, it has a two-year warranty. That inspires some confidence it won’t break in 13 months.
Likely downsides: It’s unlikely to get much in the way of updates, and you can probably forget about hacking it and loading new versions of Android yourself. There’s no reason it wouldn’t be hackable, but it’s generally the larger market tablets that attract that kind of developer support. Assume it’s stuck at Android 4.2.2 or so, and that you won’t be upgrading it.
It’s an entry-level tablet in every regard, but unlike every other tablet I’ve seen at that price, it’s one I would actually consider buying and giving as a gift.