Apr 06, 2020 | Updated: 10:23 AM EDT

So You Wanna Buy... A Stock Android Tablet

Jan 06, 2014 03:45 PM EST

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There are plenty of Android tablets on the market at various price points and values. However, most of them have one obvious flaw: they are corrupted with Android skins, UIs, and customizations that slow down your tablet, take up space, and in the Kindle’s case, make the Android OS on your tablet almost unrecognizable. While the situation may seem bleak, there are now three strong, stock Android tablet choices, one still smart option from last year, and rumors of one in the coming months.

Currently on the Google Play store there are more devices for sale than ever before. Tablets, Phones, Chromebooks, and Chromecast cover the page, all at great prices. It’s truly a great time to be an Android lover. The current stock tablets available are the 2nd Gen Nexus 7, the Nexus 10, and the new LG G Pad GPE. For the sake of simplicity, I will list their Google Play prices here. However, keep in mind that you can save anywhere from $50-$100 off list price if you shop smart, wait for a sale, or buy refurb.

Nexus 7:

The Nexus 7 needs little introduction—it has been named tablet of the year, product of the year, tech item of the year, and so on since both iterations were released, and most of you have probably heard of or used the device before. With a snappy Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and an Adreno 320 GPU, this beautiful, sleek tablet can handle any task you throw at it. While it was released with Android 4.3, it has since been upgraded to 4.4, which turns a great tablet experience into a fantastic one. The 1920x1200 display with 323 ppi is bright and a real selling point for this device. Like most modern tablets, the Nexus 7 features Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, the option to pay more for 4G LTE, but unlike many other tablets, NFC is included, as well as wireless charging. Sadly, you can’t use expandable storage, but you have the option of 16 GB or 32 GB. Also, when you buy your Nexus you qualify for extra Google Drive storage, so you may not need too much on-device storage. As far as the build quality goes, the device feels sturdy, and looks beautiful. I love using my Nexus 7, and I’ve never met anyone who isn’t satisfied with theirs. The pricing starts at $230 for 16 GB, $270 for 32 GB, and $350 for 32 GB with 4G LTE. The Nexus 7 comes in white and black, but white is only available for 32 GB. If you want a small tablet in general, whether you care about stock OS or not, the Nexus 7 is a brilliant buy. If it’s still too much money, you can look for a used 1st Gen Nexus 7 for around $100 with 1 GB RAM and a Quad-core processor and a weaker screen.

Nexus 10:

The Nexus 10 is a little bit less well-known, but it is one beautiful beast of a tablet. With the best screen on the market (2560x1600 & 300 ppi) at its size, a snappy processor (Exynos 5 Dual), and a 9,000 mAh battery, there’s something here for everyone. Labeled “The iPad Killer” in 2012 when it released, its cheaper price, sharper screen, and speedier processor hurt Apple’s Q4 tablet sales tremendously. Although it isn’t as fancy now that the iPad Air has come out, the Nexus 10 is still the best-value 10 in tablet at the moment. Since it is a Nexus, it was released with Android 4.2, but can be updated to 4.4 as soon as you power it on. As far as memory goes, you won’t be disappointed with 2 GB of RAM to handle all of your multi-tasking (the iPad has 1 GB). Unfortunately, there are only two options to customize a Nexus 10: 16 GB ($400) and 32 GB ($500). There is only one color available, a luxurious solid black. The build quality for the 10 is similar to most current Nexus devices with a solid, sturdy body and a rubberized plastic backing. The Nexus 10 doesn’t have a mobile data option, but still features blazing MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and front and back NFC. Since there was no 2013 update to the Nexus 10 line, many people are predicting that there will be a 2014 Nexus 10 within the next month. Since that is the case, be looking out for a discount at most vendors within the next few weeks. After using the Nexus 10, I can tell you that it is a fantastic device, and the perfect 10 in. tablet for anyone looking for quality and stock Android. Although it’s more expensive than the Tab 3 10.1 on eBay ($300 vs. $225), I still believe that the Nexus 10, like the other Nexus products, is the best-value tablet in its category, is a great buy, and will be even if the next version comes out within the next few weeks.

LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition:

While the Nexus 7 owned the small tablet range, and the Nexus 10 is king of the large, there was one clear winner this year for simple yet affordable in the in-between range: the LG G Pad 8.3. Although other tablets were the same size for around the same price, none of its competitors could combine the specs with the relatively unobstructive skin. (It’s still better than touchwiz.) The iPad mini with retina is too expensive and has no serious sales anywhere on the internet, the Kindle Fire HDX is a travesty of the Android OS, and the Note 8.0 is drowning in gimmicks both useful and useless. Take all of these weaknesses into account, and you’ll see why the LG G Pad is such a great device. Now take away the relatively light LG skin, and you have the Google Play edition. Once again, Google is selling a tablet with a great screen, speed, and software. A 1920x1200 Full HD display at 273 ppi gives the G Pad a clear and luminous display, although slightly less sharp and bright than the smaller Nexus 7. You also get a Snapdragon 600 1.7 GHz quad-core processor, (the same as in the HTC One and GS4) and 2 GB of RAM for all of the speed and multitasking you need. If storage is a problem with Nexus devices, the LG G Pad may be your solution. Although the only option is 16 GB, there is a micro-SD slot that will hold up 64 GB. There’s no 4G data option, but dual band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 is included. Although LG’s latest tablet is not a Nexus, like all other GPE models, it runs stock Android. Whereas the original G Pad is on 4.2, the GPE G Pad runs Kitkat. The G Pad GPE retails at $350, but you can find one on eBay for about $300.

With all of these great options for stock tablets at relatively low prices, there are plenty of choices for your Android computing needs. Do you have one of these tablets, or think one isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? If so, leave a comment below and tell us what you think!

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