When Amazon's Kindle Fire was launched, tablet manufacturers were forced to sit up and take notice.
Amazon's slate was praised for its sleek user interface, the cloud-based web browser and the impressive Amazon multimedia ecosystem.
Then there was the price tag, set at $250, a departure from the steep $500+ rates set by Apple, Samsung and others.
Users flocked to the 7-inch device, showing more evidence that the tablet market is much bigger than expected. We take a look at a few cheap tablets you should consider.
Amazon Kindle Fire
The slate that made quality and cheap tablets a reality for many, the Kindle Fire made a splash upon its release late last year.
Featuring a dual-core processor, bright display and comfortable form factor, there's little wonder why the tablet is doing so well.
However, it does have a few downsides, namely the reliance on Amazon's services (most of which aren't available here), the lack of cameras and the omission of memory expansion slots.
Nevertheless, for R2300 on Takealot, you can do far worse than this device.
Toshiba Thrive AT100
The Thrive, released back in 2011, isn't exactly the most ergonomic tablet out there, as we noted in our review. But Toshiba's slate has a lot going for it.
The tablet has a full-sized USB port, making it ideal for those wanting to plug in a flash drive or keyboard. Additionally, there's a proper HDMI connection on the Thrive, so you can simply plug in a cable without resorting to a pricey dongle.
The fact that the Thrive features the same internals as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives users another reason to make the purchase.
But there are a few downsides to the device though, with the bulky form factor and the lacklustre battery life being two of them. Despite these disadvantages, the Toshiba Thrive is still a very capable tablet, especially in light of a R3000 price tag online.
Vodafone Smart Tab
Usually, network-branded offerings aren't the best choice for mobile devices, being relatively underpowered and running pretty basic software platforms.
However, there've been some decent offerings lately, such as the Red Bull MB525 (essentially a Motorola DEFY). Now, Vodacom has also gotten into the market with a competitively priced tablet, the Vodafone Smart Tab.
At R3600, the Smart Tab is more than R1000 cheaper than an entry-level iPad while featuring microSD storage, a 5MP rear-facing camera, 2MP front-facing shooter and a 7-inch screen.
Additionally, the Smart Tab has support for sim cards as well, so you don't have to scrounge around for WiFi access when you're on the road.
Google Nexus 7
The Nexus brand is a sure-fire sign of a great device, as evident by the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S smartphones.
Now, Google has spread its wings a little, reaching out to Asus and developing the Nexus 7 tablet computer.
Equipped with a nippy Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and a vivid display, the Nexus 7 has plenty going for it.
The only downside to the device is the lack of SD expansion, a must when you've got roughly 6GBs to work with. However, users can also splash out on a 16GB model if space is an issue.
It's unclear whether the Nexus 7 will be making an appearance in local stores but chances are that a few online retailers will stock it. Expect to pay a ballpark figure of around R3000.