Mobile Technology

Five Windows 8.1 tablets under $200

Five Windows 8.1 tablets under...
Windows 8.1 has well and truly arrived in the budget tablet space, with prices starting as low as US$100
Windows 8.1 has well and truly arrived in the budget tablet space, with prices starting as low as US$100
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Toshiba Encore Mini
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Toshiba Encore Mini
HP Stream 8
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HP Stream 8
HP Stream 7
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HP Stream 7
Windows 8.1 has well and truly arrived in the budget tablet space, with prices starting as low as US$100
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Windows 8.1 has well and truly arrived in the budget tablet space, with prices starting as low as US$100
Toshiba Encore 2
5/6
Toshiba Encore 2
Acer Iconia Tab 8 W
6/6
Acer Iconia Tab 8 W
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Windows 8.1’s tile UI makes it better suited to touchscreen input than other desktop operating systems, and by now we’re used to seeing hybrid systems, like Microsoft’s own Surface 3 Pro, that offer both tablet and notebook functionality. Over the last six months we’ve seen the OS expand into a new category – the budget tablet. These devices combine functionality and low prices, and can serve as alternatives to the wealth of wallet-friendly Android tablets available this Christmas.

While there are some downsides to running a desktop OS on a tablet, particularly a low cost one, they present an undeniable value proposition. Trying to navigate the traditional desktop side of the OS doesn’t always make for a good user experience, so it’s best to view the tile UI interface as your go-to computing environment, resorting to the traditional desktop only when the need arises. For more on the ups-and-downs of Windows 8.1 on a tablet, check out our full review of the Toshiba Encore 2.

Caveats aside, let’s jump straight in to our roundup of five of the most wallet-friendly Windows 8.1 slates out there.

HP Stream 7

HP Stream 7
HP Stream 7

The Stream 7 is one of the nicest looking devices on this list, offering a sleek, uncluttered design and black plastic finish. The tablet is rated for 8 hours on a single charge and weighs in at 0.36 kg (0.8 lbs). Its 7-inch 1,280 x 800 display (with 215 PPI), quad core Intel Atom processor and 1 GB RAM certainly aren’t anything to get excited about, but its price tag makes it worth a look.

In addition to a one-year Office 365 subscription, the Stream 7 comes with 60 minutes of Skype video calls for a month and 1 TB of OneDrive storage for a year, making it one of the best value tablets on the market.

Price: US$100

HP Stream 8

HP Stream 8
HP Stream 8

HP’s 8-in tablet shares its little brother’s design language and specs, including a 1,280 x 800 resolution. While the extra 30 percent screen real estate will likely make OS navigation easier, its pixel density also drops to an even-more concerning 188 PPI.

The larger of HP’s two tablets does have the added benefit of a 4G radio, with 200 MB “free” monthly allowance included in the price.

Price: $180

Toshiba Encore Mini

Toshiba Encore Mini
Toshiba Encore Mini

The Mini sits at the bottom of Toshiba’s Encore range, offering a 1,024 x 600 display over 7-inches. That’s a step down from what you’ll find on the HP Stream 7, and equates to just 169 PPI – the lowest pixel density of the bunch.

There’s a single gigabyte of RAM on board, and a quad core Intel Atom processor powering the device. Like the other tablets here, it ships with a one year subscription to Office 365.

Price: $120

Toshiba Encore 2

Toshiba Encore 2
Toshiba Encore 2

The 8-inch offers the same 1,280 x 800 resolution as the HP Stream 8, but strips things back to a single gigabyte of RAM, paired with a quad core Intel Atom processor. Toshiba claims that the tablet is capable of running for 10 hours of general usage, and offers stereo speakers, 32 or 64 GB storage, as well as both a Micro HDMI port and microSD card reader.

In our review we found that the Encore 2 provides a good experience if you stick to the tile UI side of the OS, but its lack of horsepower and uninspiring resolution make using the traditional desktop a chore.

Once again, you’ll get a year of Office 365 subscription included in the purchase.

$200

Acer Iconia Tab 8 W

Acer Iconia Tab 8 W
Acer Iconia Tab 8 W

Acer’s latest Windows tablet offers a familiar 1,280 x 800 resolution over eight inches. It’s not the most stunning tablet we’ve seen, but its simple white design is attractive and is fairly thin and light at 9.75 mm (0.38 in) and 370 g (0.8 lbs). The slate is equipped with dual stereo speakers and there’s a microsSD card included, meaning you can easily up its 32 GB internal offering.

The company offers a full-sized keyboard dock with the Iconia Tab W, meaning you can significantly increase functionality if you’re willing to shell out the extra cash for the accessory.

Acer isn’t currently listing the tablet as available for purchase in the US, but the last we heard it was scheduled to launch in November, so we’d expect to see it start hitting shelves any day now.

Price: $150

Your take?

Have you used any of these tablets? Do you find that they're worth a look next to similarly-priced Android slates? Drop us a line in the comments.

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5 comments
DonGateley
Right at $200, and less if you go refurbished (which I nearly always do), the Dell Venue Pro 8 is also a fine choice. Plenty of horsepower and no negatives that I've found.
Whatever you go with, if you find that dealing with a tiny tablet touch screen using your fingertip bludgeons is too difficult, a must have is the TouchMousePointer app. When you turn it on a mouse pointer appears on the screen which is controlled using the entire touch screen as a touch pad. The common touch pad gestures effect clicking and so forth. Being such a large touch pad compared to those on laptops, for example, it is really effective with very high resolution. Much better than a laptop.
I have a couple of audio apps on my tablet with gain sliders that were simply too small to control with my fingertips at all or even a stylus and I feared I had wasted my money on a tablet until I found TouchMousePointer.
This isn't an ad, I'm just a happy camper. Chris, I think you, or someone at gizmag, should give TouchMousePointer a review of its own.
Rann Xeroxx
DonGateley, I second your recommendation on TouchMousePointer, no matter what the screen size, its a fantastic app for touch elements on the desktop.
This app is dev by a Japanese guy who just excepts donations but the app itself is free. I even emailed him a question and he was very cool and responsive.
Richard Chesher
thank you for the comment on the touch ousepointer app!!! I have a Lenovo 8 and it is pretty useless for most windows programs even with a stylus. I'm getting the new app right NOW.
Brian Richter
I have a Lenovo Miix 2 8 which is very similar in specs with the Dell Venue Pro 8. I decided on it over the Venue because it was slightly lighter and less bezel. I have been extremely happy with it so far and now when I go to meetings I very rarely take my laptop.
Melissa Hanson
Just a side note about Windows 8.1 on tablets. Microsoft still will not users install Apps from the AppStore to an SD card, you must use internal memory. So if you use a lot of apps make sure that you get a tablet with a high amount of internal storage. So that expandable SD card is only good for files, music, and photos.
source: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows8_1-files/installing-windows-81-store-apps-directly-to-sd/fd5ef35e-1740-4f45-83ce-d4a8f42fab24