Tablets group

Tablets are great devices for all sorts of things, but how much should you pay for one? We take look at the tablet market and what your money can get you.

It was Toshiba's launch of its Excite range of tablet this week which got us thinking about the price of tablets. Specifically the Excite Pure which is the cheapest of the three at £249. See also: What's the best tablet PC?

At £249 the Pure sits in a distinctly lonely mid-range section of the tablet market. The vast majority of tablets are either at the 'premium' or 'budget' end of the price scale.

Apple's iPad set the benchmark for high-end tablets with an original price of £429 which then dropped to £399 for the iPad 2 and has stuck ever since. We've since seen numbers of tablets from rival vendors match the price point for their flagship devices.

This is, of course, the beginning of the high-end price bracket – you can pay up to £739 for the latest iPad if you want 128GB of storage and mobile data.

How much should I pay for a premium tablet?

The £400 mark is about your starting point for a high end tablet, apart from a handful of exceptions. If you want more storage and other features then be prepared to go higher than this.

Be sure to check out the iPad, Sony Xperia Tablet Z, Nexus 10 and Asus' Transformer range.

At the other end of the spectrum, a tablet can set you back a relatively small amount. Google set a benchmark for a decent tablet at a budget price with the Nexus 7 of £159. It, along with the Nexus 10, are slight exceptions to the rule as Google doesn't make money from selling the hardware.
Instead it profits from apps and other content like films and music from the Play Store.

Other than Google, there are plenty of other cheap tablets to choose from. Some from more well-known names like the Barnes&Noble's Nook, Amazon's Kindle Fire range and Archos; and many more that even we haven't heard of.

With the lines drawn in the sand by Apple and Google, it only seems to make sense to make a premium tablet or a budget option. The mid-range is a no man's land in the tablet world.

See also: Group test: what's the best Android tablet?

How much should I pay for a budget tablet?

As we mentioned earlier the Nexus 7 is a good benchmark in the budget tablet market. It starts at £159 for the 16GB model. You can go more expensive than this but we would suggest trying to stay under the £200 mark, maybe a little more if there's a tablet you really like the look of.

We have found that tablets with a price tag under the £100 mark are generally too poor to be worth buying. Aside from the Nexus 7, make sure you check out the Nook HD, Kindle Fire HD and Archos 80 Titanium.

How much should I pay for a tablet?

So, going back to the Toshiba Excite Pure and our original question, we think the answer is that you should either spend a little or a lot.

Our reason being is that you can get a tablet for an affordable price without getting the kind of performance and hardware which will make you want to throw it in the bin a few weeks after taking it out of the box.

On the other hand, you do typically get what you pay for if you splash the cash. The iPad and other high-end tablets from the like of Asus and Sony provide excellent hardware, design and build quality.

There you have it - forget mid-range, go budget or go all out. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.