There seem to be a lot of stunning deals for 7in tablets about as the market is saturated. This means there are new devices, often from people you have never heard of, and refurbished devices going very cheap. If you want a tablet for use on SOTA activations and don’t want to spend big bucks and then find that a lot of SOTAing causes early failure of your tablet there may be something for you out there.
Android tablets: you really need to consider if you will use this to go online from some unknown location. Most of the cheap Chinese “noname” devices have some horrible security flaws in the software. In addition it highly unlikely they will ever receive an Android update. That doesn’t mean they’re no good, just that you need to be a little careful what you use it for. Also the battery capacity is often lower on the very cheap tablets and hence battery life is reduced.
Currys/PCworld are selling Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablets with 8GB of storage, 1GB ram, microSD slot, USB, Android 4.1+ for £79.99 complete with 2yr warranty. These are dual core tablets that work FB but are off the leading edge in performance. Probably there’ll be no more Android updates from Samsung.
Nexus7 Gen 1 refurbs: MorganComputers are selling refurbed A1 condition 16gb Nexus 7 tablets for £69.95. These are quad core with 1GB ram. There is no SD card slot but you can use an external USB memory stick with an OTG cable and some software. This has a quite a bit more performance than a Galaxy Tab 3 but will have only 3months warranty. You can get the version of Android (Lollipop 5.0) for this as it is still actively supported by Google.
Linx Windows 8.1 tablet: Various suppliers from £58 to £80. This a brand new 7in tablet with a quad core 1.33GHz Atom CPU, 1GB ram, 32GB storage. Unlike the others this has a x86 compatible processor and runs Windows 8 “metro” apps and traditional desktop apps. For £58 this is a steal but running Win8 in 1GB will be challenging for performance even though the Atom is much faster than equivalent ARMs. I’d love to see one running Metro and desktop apps. At £60 it’s almost worth a punt anyway, if it’s no good you can give it to the kids to watch films and TV progs.
All of these devices have Bluetooth, Wifi and USB for connectivity.
Personally I have a Nexus 7 Gen 1 32GB which has the full OS 1:50000 mapping installed, ebooks and some useful apps I use to administer some of the SOTA websites when out and about. With a Bluetooth keyboard I have a tiny laptop that is small and light. If I need to travel but don’t need the hassle of taking a full laptop with me, then this is great. I bought it because it was shiny and it took a while before I started using it more and more.
I’ve got no shares in the companies mentioned and none of the 3 devices mention use chip designs from my employer! As always caveat emptor. Make sure you know what you are buying before you spend your cash. The cost is not huge and you can dip your toes in the tablet water.