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Best Tablets for $300 or Less

These inexpensive options are recommended by CR's testers

They don't have keyboards and they're not always printer-friendly, but tablets make great back-to-school companions, especially when you're ready to ease up on the books and flip through a magazine, enjoy a movie, or watch a lighthearted YouTube video.

These days, it's easy to find well-designed tablets at great prices. The models below come with HD displays and ample battery life, and all but one are recommended by our testers, who have reviewed 24 tablet models this year, grading them over two weeks' time on nearly 240 data points. 

Here's our list (in alphabetical order) of the best tablets for $300 or less, with models from Amazon, Apple, Asus, Huawei, and Samsung. 

1
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (16GB)

Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (16GB)

Due to middling cameras (front and back) and the fact that it lags behind other models when running graphics-intensive apps, this tablet failed to make our recommended list. But if you're willing to overlook those shortcomings, the $80 sticker price is mighty attractive. The display is admirably good, and if you're already on the hook for a $99-per-year Amazon Prime subscription, it will provide you with access to a bevy of content, including movies, music, and books. Just keep in mind that the device uses Amazon's Fire OS 5.4, which, unlike other Android-powered tablets, forces owners to use Amazon's app store in lieu of the Google Play app store.

    2
    Apple iPad Mini 4 (128GB)

    Apple iPad Mini 4 (128GB)

    This one is a bit of a cheat because Apple routinely sells the 128GB iPad Mini 4 for $400. But if you shop Best Buy right now, you can find the 128GB WiFi-only model priced at $300, thanks to a back-to-school sale. The pint-sized tablet is an excellent performer capable of running even demanding graphics apps. The bright, colorful 324-pixels-per-inch display might not surpass the one on the Huawei MediaPad, but it's still finer than most. The battery lasts nearly 12 hours between charges. And like all of Apple's mobile offerings, this Mini features a fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication. (If you want the iPad experience with a larger screen, the 9.7-inch iPad is only $330 for the 32GB model.)

    3
    Asus ZenPad S 8.0 Z580C-B1 (32GB)

    Asus ZenPad S 8.0 Z580C-B1 (32GB)

    Priced at about $200, this 8-inch tablet impressed our testers with its high-resolution display and its speedy performance, even while running demanding graphics applications. The 328-pixels-per-inch resolution captures the finer details in photos and provides crisp text from websites and e-books. The 9-hour battery life will get you through the workday, not to mention many a road trip. And the tablet comes with 32GB of storage, double the amount you find on most budget-friendly tablets. That means you get more room for apps, games, and movies. (For more power, a longer battery life, and 4G capability, the Asus ZenPad Z8 with 16GB of storage is available for about $65 more.)

      4
      Huawei MediaPad M3 (32GB)

      Huawei MediaPad M3 (32GB)

      This 8.4-inch tablet earned high marks from our testers for display and performance. It's very slim and compact for its size, weighing in at 0.72 pounds. Gamers will appreciate the $300 machine's ability to run graphics-heavy mobile apps. While the front- and rear-facing cameras didn't wow us, the tablet did log 12.5 hours in battery life, and the 361-pixels-per-inch screen resolution is a step up from the iPad Mini 4.

        5
        Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 SM-T580 (16GB)

        Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 SM-T580...

        If you're looking for a tablet with a bigger screen (for epic movies), consider this 10.1-inch model from Samsung. It has a top-knotch display and clocked 15.8 hours' worth of battery life in our labs. Those are impressive feats for a tablet priced just under $300. Be prepared to make some concessions, though. The device has only one speaker, the camera is middle-of-the-road, and the Exynos 7870 processor is a step below those found in Samsung's flagship S series.

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          Tercius Bufete

          I'm an avid photographer and tech nerd with a passion for writing about gadgets and consumer technology. Originally from Los Angeles, I'm now an East Coast transplant searching for the perfect burrito in Brooklyn. Follow me on Twitter @terciusbufete