Laptops & Tablets

How and where to find good tablets & laptops.

Useful information

LAST UPDATED

June 15, 2020

Tablets

Tablets are great for browsing the internet, watching videos and playing games, using apps, making video calls and reading. They are portable and generally have good battery life.

Because they mirror a smartphone interface and have similar control functions  - many people without strong digital skills find them easier to use than laptops. 

They aren’t as useful for doing ‘productive’ work on - but you could add a detachable keyboard to make writing easier. 

Tablets range in price but good budget options are available from between £65 and £150 from online retailers.

5 Top Tablets under £200 reviewed by Which?

Huawei T3-7 Tablet

Huawei MediaPad T3 7

£65.00

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Budget tablet

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Can be slow

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Poor audio

Amazon Fire HD 8

£80.00

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Attractive design

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Easy to use

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Decent battery life

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Can be slow

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Focus on Amazon services

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So-so screen

Mediapad 10 Tablet

Huawei MediaPad T3 10

£126.00

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Good battery life

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Fast speed

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Weak audio through speakers

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 8-inch

£139.00

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Compact size

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Low price

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Good all-rounder

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Not the fastest

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Sub-par speakers

Lenovo Tab 10 Tablet

Lenovo Tab M10

£150.00

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Reasonable price

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Can be used as voice assistant

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Fast performance

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Battery life not as good as rivals

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Chunky design

Monqi S2 smartphone

IMO S2 with Monqi

£50.00

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Designed for children

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Monitoring features for parents

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Inexpensive

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Good screen size

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Can be slow

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Poor battery life

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Battery charges slowly

Xiaomi 6A smartphone

Xiaomi Redmi 6A

£75.00

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Good battery life

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Strong security features

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Can be slow

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Struggles in noisy environments

Motorola E4 smartphone

Motorola Moto E4 Plus

£90.00

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Large display

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Fingerprint scanner

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Good battery life

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NFC capable

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Can be slow

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Slow charging

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Poor quick-charge battery life

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Heavy and wide

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No supplied headphones

Motorola G6 smartphone

Motorola Moto G6 Play

£100.00

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Fantastic value

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Great battery life

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Good display

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No headphones

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Not powerful enough for serious users

Costs and data deals for pay-as-you-go providers

Laptops

You can buy relatively cheap laptop for between £200 - £400. 

Like with most technologies, you get what you pay for.

Sometimes, the factors that might affect your decision about which laptop to purchase can be can be confusing.

Top tips

  • New models of laptops are released each year. Avoid this year's models if possible, the price drops when newer model comes out.
  • Read this Guardian article on which laptop to buy
  • Check reviews from customers on Amazon and Which?

Brands

It's recommended to get a well-established brand for the sake of online support and help they offer.

Examples of these brands include: HP, Acer, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, Toshiba, Sony, Apple.

Price and quality can vary significantly between each of these brands. There are a lot of models that exist, so use a comparison tool or review site to make sure you find the most suitable one.

Models

Chromebooks

These types of laptops use Google's operating system, which isn't Windows. Chromebooks tend to be cheaper, aimed towards students and kids. They do not come loaded with software, which means they can be relatively quick for basic tasks.

Netbooks

These laptops are small, lightweight and come free of the software that is automatically installed on most traditional laptops. They are also relatively inexpensive and can offer a cost-effective solution if you need a portable laptop.

Thinkpads

ThinkPad is a line of business-oriented laptop computers and tablets designed, developed, marketed, and sold by Lenovo. They are more robust and reliable, typically used by working professionals.

Components

The technical specification of laptops can be confusing, it can be hard to know where to start. Some guidelines to follow when purchasing laptops for clients are the following: 

Memory (RAM)

This is known as the 'working memory'. The more applications installed on your computer, the more of the 'RAM' is used, and the slower the computer becomes. This is one of the primary reasons that computers with a large RAM are typically faster. Most laptops have RAM that can be upgraded at a later date.

The amount of RAM you might need is roughly 4GB. Laptops will usually have an empty slot for upgrades, but laptop RAM is not cheap.

Processor

Like RAM, this is one of the primary factors that can affect the speed of your laptop, and what you can do on it. Unlike RAM, this cannot be upgraded at a later date. Establishing the 'best' processor is complicated, so here are some things to look for:

A laptop with an 'Intel i3 core', or higher

  • AMD Ryzen 4000 (Avoid i3 less than -6xxx or 7xxx, Core m i5, "Y Series:", AMD A, FX or E Series are less powerful)
  • A laptop with an 'Intel i3 core', or higher

Storage

This is sometimes known as the 'hard drive'. There are a few distinctions to make when looking at storage in laptops:

  • SDD (solid drive) is faster than HDD (disc drive), but more expensive
  • Capacity (in GBs) is not so much of an issue as it can be added using a (relatively cheap) separate device like a USB stick or external Hard Drive

Connections and other bits

  • Laptops that have a HDMI connection can be useful for plugging into most TVs
  • Camera and Mic are usually included
  • Most laptops are unlikely to have a sim card slot for direct internet (4G,5G), and instead will use WiFi

Operating system, software

  • Windows is often included, generally licenses will be included. Linux is also OK, and will reduce the cost.
  • Microsoft Office is probably to be avoided as the license tends to be 1 year, and it can easily be swapped for good free equivalent (LibreOffice), or free software like Google Docs.