Console gaming will always hold a dear place in the hearts of the gaming community; it was around at the very beginning of video games and continues to wow the world year after year with new ideas and better gameplay experience. Even as more and more pieces of the experience – controllers, headphones, and the internet, for example – become wireless, the console is still highly esteemed by the bulk of gamers.
That position may not last long, though; mobile gaming is rapidly catching up with both console and PC technology, and many of the best titles now include a mobile version to include gamers who, for whatever reason, have elected not to play in front of a full-size screen.
Some mobile games, such as Minecraft or the wildly popular Call of Duty series, attempt to close emulation of console play as possible; others, such as Battlefield or Watchdogs, employ a supplementary play mode, often intended to be used in tandem with friends on a console.
Whichever approach your particular favorite game adopts, mobile gamers face the same cost-benefit dilemma that has plagued console gamers since time immemorial – how much do I need to spend to have the best equipment, and is it worth it? After all, not all games are enjoyable enough to warrant any investment beyond buying them, and some justify any amount to be played better. Is there a compromise?
When it comes to computer equipment – including gaming devices in all their many forms – there tends to be something for nearly any budget or objective, and this is no exception. You don’t need to break the bank for a good gaming tablet; lots of budget tablets will still let you play at your best.
Buying electronics can get overwhelming in the modern world, especially something as specific as this. We’ve cut through the many models available and put together a shortlist of high-performance gaming tablets, each one under $200USD.
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This tablet is made by Amazon and displays a good balance of features like price, performance, and the Alexa digital assistant that comes preinstalled with the tablet.
This tablet comes with multiple free subscriptions and content, at least for a trial period.
This device has one of the smallest screens you can use that you may think you are holding a mobile phone and not a tablet.
This tablet has plenty of real estate for anything you want to play on it and is made to run even the latest Android operating system smoothly.
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This tablet’s size and speed are both strong bonuses for anyone looking for a serious gaming experience.
This device is something of a battery hog; this becomes especially noticeable during long gaming sessions, which can be shortened by as much as three hours if you are on high settings.
This tablet includes a spacious internal hard drive so you can store content as well as playing it.
One of the most surprisingly enjoyable things about this tablet is the brightness and clarity of the display, both of which are fully functional in broad daylight.
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Between the hard drive and the all-metal body, this tablet weighs more than most people want to see in a mobile device.
Use this tablet if you find yourself on the go or with limited space – it’s light, cheap, and compact enough to fit into a purse or pocket.
This tablet keeps things simple, cutting out most of the extra features that others strive to include to provide an affordable and enjoyable gaming experience.
The cameras and internal storage on this device are both lackluster, and the operating system is a relatively dated version of Android.
Although more expensive than less-known brands, Lenovo is a trusted producer with a long history of exceptional computer products.
Among the features added by the manufacturer is a parental control system that makes this tablet an ideal choice as a gaming tablet for your children.
Quality comes with a cost – this tablet’s price is nearly three times that of other models.
This tablet has an octa-core processor that lets it run even the most challenging programs at a blistering 1.6×8 GHz.
There’s honestly a lot to like about this tablet, but the generous camera sizes and the innovative processor seem like a good place to start.
This tablet has fairly low availability, which can cause retail prices to be over $200USD and long delivery times if buying online.
This tablet includes a SIM port, allowing it to send and receive phone calls and SMS services in addition to its gaming capabilities.
Having a SIM port eliminates the need for a separate device from which to manage your phone calls, putting all your online mobile needs on a single device with bigger and better screens and cameras than any phone.
This tablet connects both your phone and internet in 3G instead of 4G, making online conferencing or download speed uncertain at best.
Getting this tablet means more than just the screen – it comes bundled with a pre-applied screen protector, power adapter set, and high-quality case for the complete experience.
Adding a Mini-HDMI port allows the user a number of casting options for either television or web that are not otherwise available.
This tablet’s casing is made of relatively flimsy plastic and the bezels are too large to be really justified by the camera.
This is another tablet built around its phone service functionality, this one boasting two SIM slots to let you keep your personal and work lines separate while still using only one device.
Apart from the SIM functions, this tablet features an extremely powerful octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM for unmatched speed under heavy loads.
This tablet doesn’t come with the most recent version of Android, and the cameras are smaller than average for tablets of this size.
This tablet features an innovative multi-card slot that can hold a combination of SIM and microSD cards for increased storage or phone reception, depending on which one better suits your needs at the time.
Android Go OS helps adapt web pages and content for the mobile platform, making the content of every kind easier to access.
This tablet has relatively small internal storage, and the processor is far from the fastest on the market.
This tablet comes ‘unlocked’, allowing users access to a much wider range of apps, games, and other content than they would normally be able to reach.
This tablet manages to balance a lot of features, offering acceptable performance in nearly all areas for a reasonable price
The operating system is from several generations ago and will likely need to be updated right out of the box
This tablet has been selected as a Google partner device, so it will always come with the latest operating system and includes access to content and features not available on other third-party hardware.
This tablet is exceptionally responsive and has incredibly sharp audio and video output.
Although there is plenty to access on this tablet, it comes with a relatively sparse library preloaded, including things like extra wallpapers and samples audio and video.
There may have been a lot of runner ups, but this tablet is the only one that really ticks off all the boxes for a gaming tablet; the operating system is recent enough for the newest titles, and the graphics and processor are both up to fast games at high settings. The screen is on the larger side, always a plus when gaming, and it can support art apps and video editing too, giving it an important measure of versatility over the other tablets.
It’s easy to get confused when you go shopping for electronics – most of the devices look and sound the same, and sitting down to try out each one is hardly a realistic proposition. Still, there are some things that you can look for to help keep yourself for settling for the wrong device.
On the software front, you’ll want the most recent version of your preferred operating system you can find. Getting the latest edition will mean more content is already optimized for your device and less work to do out of the box to get it ready to use.
Always check to see if there are any file formats that your chosen tablet cannot run. Some tablets will need to be ‘unlocked’ in order to access certain games or videos, or simply be incapable of running certain files; don’t get yourself stuck with a gaming tablet that can’t handle your favorite games.
As with all computers, take the time to check online if there are any known security flaws with your tablet of choice. Even a brief search of your tablet’s model number should be enough to turn up any major leaks for that device, so you know if you’re safe before you buy it.
Many tablets have a feature called a bezel; this is the unused ring of space between the edge of the device and the beginning of the useable screen. A device may claim a certain screen size, but actually have a lot less useable space on account of its bezels; try to find the smallest bezels you can to increase the functional screen size at your disposal.
Two things that often escape people’s notice when looking for a mobile device are weight and heat. A mobile device will heat up under load like any computer, so make sure you look for a heat rating on the packaging to know which one can run the hottest without losing function.
Weight should be most noticeable in mobile devices, but is frequently overlooked; people simply assume that their device will be light enough for them not to notice. Check that you will be comfortable holding the device for long gaming sessions, or carrying it in your backpack or briefcase when you need to hit the road.
By the same token, of course, check the other dimensions of the device as well; too large and too small are both going to be a hassle if you intend to make this your main gaming device. This applies when choosing accessories too; so-called universal accessories aren’t nearly as versatile if you try to apply them to the wrong size tablet.
Even if you will not be fully replacing your desktop devices with tablets, you will still want to take care of these devices. If your tablet did not come with one, a screen protector is a small but highly advisable added expense; this sheet of tempered glass will break instead of your tablet’s screen if you drop it, allowing you to easily peel it off and install a new one with no loss of function to the device beneath.
If you cannot or will not get a screen protector for your device, consider a tablet case instead. They come in many different designs, from simple ‘device skin’ varieties to larger and more complex folio cases; any of them can be the thing your tablet needs to cushion an otherwise damaging impact.
If you are leaning towards using a tablet instead of your desktop or laptop, you may want to consider some of the various Bluetooth office accessories that are available for tablets. Some tablets have proprietary accessory kits; others simply rely on the universal nature of Bluetooth connections to link up with third-party hardware.
When trying to replace a laptop with a tablet, the first thing you’ll want is a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. There are plenty of both out there, but make sure that the ones you get are compatible with your device’s operating system version and Bluetooth transponder; also, keep in mind that it may be necessary to install some extra software, such as device drivers, to get Bluetooth accessories working properly with your tablet.
Another common Bluetooth addition to a tablet setup is some kind of audio device; most tablets have relatively small and weak speakers, positioned in such a way that the audio is often muffled by the user’s hand. A good Bluetooth speaker will help you get the great audio experience you want to go with your mobile gaming, and most are small and light enough to be scooped up and carried alongside your tablet.
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