We recently bought a 7 inch Polaroid 701i Android tablet at Big Lots for $89. We wanted an inexpensive tablet for our son; one that we could let him use without any anxiety about damage.
The sale price was great, but you definitely get what you pay for. Other reviews have gone into more detail on the various specifications, but the two main issues for a casual user are the screen resolution (which isn’t good, but good enough for my son’s purposes), and the touch screen interface. The touch screen simply isn’t as responsive as the iPad and can be a little frustrating to use, especially in ebooks when there are a lot of pages to turn.
Although it runs on the Android operating system, the Polaroid inexplicably comes without the Google Play marketplace installed, and adding it is a bit of a chore. I found good instructions online and since the tablet comes pre-rooted it’s not too challenging, but it’s a little frustrating if you’re used to Apple products and being able to play right out of the box. Installing the Play app lets you download Flash, which is necessary for some sites with video. My son can now watch Peep and the Big Wide World videos on the PBS website, which he can’t do on the iPad.
Also, because the tablet is smaller than the iPad and the casing is cheap plastic, it’s lightweight and a little easier for young kids to manage.
This tablet is definitely the low end of the market, but if you’re looking for a a cheap alternative to the iPad for your kids to use it’s one to consider.