Want a tablet for you to enjoy some Netflix on the sofa, but is cheap enough that you don’t mind you kids playing with it when you’re all on holiday? Don’t risk getting your pricey new iPad smothered in cake, take a look instead at the new Samsung Galaxy Tab A.

Although Samsung has yet to set a price for the UK, the slate has already gone on sale in the US for $300, which equates to only £190. Australian prices and availability are not known at the time of writing (about AU$371 converted).

That cheap price tag does come with a a set of compromises however, including a very low screen resolution, and rather uninspiring design.

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Design and display

Samsung clearly hasn’t wasted wads of cash on looks for the Tab A, as it has a very plain design. It’s an all-plastic slate, with a plain back panel, broken only by the Samsung logo and camera lens at the top. At 242mm long and 166mm wide, you probably won’t be able to squeeze it into your jeans pocket, but its skinny 7.5mm thickness should let it slide into your backpack next to your books without any trouble.

It’s available in three colours — grey, white and blue, the latter of which adds at least some visual interest. The tablet comes with 16GB of internal storage as standard, but you’ll find a microSD card slot around the side, which lets’ you expand the storage with cards up to 128GB in size.

The 9.7-inch display has a 1,024×768-pixel resolution, which is really very low. That equates to a pixel density of 131 pixels per inch, which is significantly lower than you’ll find even on budget phones. By comparison, even the cheap and cheerful 5-inch Motorola Moto G has a pixel density of 293ppi. On paper the screen doesn’t impress, but I’ll reserve final judgement for the review.

Features

The tablet arrives with the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop software on board, over which Samsung has applied its TouchWiz interface. It comes with features like a kids mode — in case you’re planning on keeping your little ‘uns quiet with some games in the car. Samsung also boasts that it comes with various of preinstalled software. Samsung has a history of filling its devices with a lot of needless clutter, so I’m hoping it hasn’t gone overboard here.

It’s powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, backed up by 1.5GB of RAM. That’s not a powerful engine by any means, but should be sufficient to keep Twitter, Facebook and your web browser ticking along nicely. On the back is a 5-megapixel camera, and there’s a 2-megapixel camera on the front for video calling over Skype or Google Hangouts.

Providing the juice is a 6,000mAh battery, which should hopefully be capacious enough to let you watch a film or two when you’re on a long, unbearably dull plane journey.

Outlook

With its plain design and poor screen resolution, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A doesn’t impress on paper, but its affordable price does go a long way to making that bitter pill easier to swallow. We’ll be seeing what this slate can really do in the full review soon.