Tablet for hearthstone
December 12, 2014 5:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to buy a sub-$200 tablet primarily to play Hearthstone and watch Netflix. I'm finding it confusing to to pick out the best quality tablet in this price range that will run Hearthstone well, do you have a suggestion? I am open to Windows, Android, or Apple. If I understand correctly, the Hearthstone app is not out for Android yet but it should be available soon.
posted by Drinky Die to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to be able to play Hearthstone as soon as you get that tablet, you would either need an iPad or a Windows tablet. If you're willing to buy an older, used or refurbished iPad, you can get close to your $200 price point, but it won't be the latest & greatest of the line. Still, it should work well enough for both Netflix and Hearthstone. If you want more bang-for-your-buck, tablet-wise, wait for the Android version of Hearthstone to come out and get a Nexus 7 (2013 version).

While you can find sub-$200 Windows tablets, the tablet app ecosystem for Windows 8 is hit-or-miss, so you'd be running the desktop version of the Hearthstone app, which may have unacceptable performance or UI issues, since it may not be optimized for running under the constraints of the Intel Atom platform. I came across this forum post about Windows tablets that should be able to handle Hearthstone, of which only the Dell Venue 8 Pro and Acer Iconia W4 fall into your budget. That said, if you like the idea of being able to run Windows apps on a tablet, it might be something to consider, and if you do, I'd go for the Dell.

tl;dr: I'd recommend either getting an old, refurbished iPad or waiting for the Android version of Hearthstone and getting a Nexus 7 (2013 version) for that.
posted by Aleyn at 5:53 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm open to a refurb, which iPad version would you be looking at around that price range?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:58 PM on December 12, 2014

I don't own an iPad myself, and I really haven't been keeping up on the Apple ecosystem, so I don't have specific advice here. My rule of thumb would be to look for the newest model you can afford; pretty much all Apple hardware has similar (good) build quality, so you'd only be sacrificing on performance and some features (like memory or screen size) by buying an older model.
posted by Aleyn at 6:03 PM on December 12, 2014

iPad and under $200 basically doesn't happen, unless you're talking about a 1st gen ipad mini. Those are pretty decent, but are really getting on in the years specs wise(it's basically the guts of an ipad 2 from 2011, and computer years can be like dog years sometimes).

If you really want an ipad, i'd recommend you flex that budget a bit. Get the cheapest used ipad mini 2 you can find on craigslist, which should be possible for $250 or so at this point. They DO regularly go on sale, and often end up undercutting the used market on those sales which also hit a similar price point. A brand new one is $299+tax, so don't get rooked. For what it's worth they seem to go for $250-255 on amazon marketplace all day. Check both colors if you don't care, sometimes one is way cheaper than the other.

I wouldn't buy a full sized ipad older than the ipad 4 at this point, and those are usually available for around that price point too. The 2 and 3 are outdated now, and just aren't enough cheaper to justify it.

If you want to buy an android tablet, the usual recommendations around $200 from me are the nexus 7 2013(~$140-150 used or refurbed), and the lg g pad 8.3. Sony also makes perfectly good tablets in their Z series with decent specs/price especially on amazon marketplace.

I owned a dell venue 8 pro and it was... fine. The battery life was good, the screen was pretty nice, it just felt *really cheap*. Not like it was super breakable, my friend rocked one caseless in his backpack for like 6 months and it came out the other side still looking pretty new. It just doesn't feel very high quality. The screen also feels really small compared to the ipad mini because of the 16:9 aspect ratio. This applies to the nexus 7 too, but still. I wasn't wowed by either of them. They perform fine and stuff but...meh. It also refused to charge with like, any charger i owned, which really pissed me off.

If you can't flex the budget, i think your best experience would be had on the absolute cheapest ipad mini 1 you can find. Don't pay more than like, $140. They're out there on craigslist. I myself am skeptical of the desktop hearthstone app on a touch screen, most games/apps work like crap that way. I'd either buy a decently specced android tablet and camp out, or get an ipad right now.

My random idea would be to buy an ipad mini 1 for super cheap, use it until the android version comes out, then sell it for like exactly the same price and buy a nokia N1 when it launches. I really just think 4:3 is a better ratio for a tablet, especially a small tablet, than 16:9.
posted by emptythought at 6:16 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Regarding the ipad, it would be worth checking out which ones run Hearthstone reliably. My understanding is that the ones with retina display are the ones that give a good experience, and anything under can be problematic. I'm pretty sure a first generation ipad wouldn't even run it, as it's recommended to have an ipad 2 or better. I believe, also, that bare minimum runs a lot slower than with at least retina display, or the ipad air.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I always check Gazelle's ebay store for this kind of thing. Looks like they have a decent selection of iPads from $200-250 but I don't know which model would work for you, or if you're OK with used instead of refurbished.
posted by dialetheia at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2014

I can speak directly to the performance of Hearthstone on an ipad mini (non-retina, first gen) and the ipad mini retina (first gen of the retina kind).

On the non-retina it is super slow, incredibly laggy on the menus but not as bad when you are actually in a game. There are some framerate issues though. My friend who is borrowing my ipad and playing on it says that it has never been so bad that it causes him to mis-play a card or something like that.

In contrast, the retina mini (last year's model, wifi only, bought at costco for about $339 last month) performs quite well. Virtually no lag or framerate issues. Words, numbers, and graphics are all very crisp. Menus navigate smoothly, much much closer to a desktop experience.

My friend is starting to prefer playing on a tablet rather than on his desktop. Definitely easier to tote along with him, play in bed or on the couch, etc.
posted by megafauna at 7:14 PM on December 12, 2014

I don't know from Hearthstone but The Verge just did a pretty good rundown on cheap tablets. Their pick was the Asus MeMo Pad 7, which they bill as the successor to the older Nexus 7 in all but name and official Google branding.
posted by contraption at 7:24 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

I play Hearthstone on an iPad Air 1, and my boyfriend plays it on an retina iPad 3. The difference is insane. I play on his iPad occasionally and have fireballed myself in the face more than once due to laggy dragging, but this has never happened on my iPad ... his is also prone to crashing and there are some stability issues introduced with every other patch that get fixed after a few weeks and then break again with a new content update. It's playable, but if you actually play the game a lot, it's really, really annoying. I would go for the iPad Air (1 or 2) or a retina mini (the non-retina ones are supposed to be just as bad as the retina fullsized one).

For the non-Apple ecosystem, I would wait a few months until people have used Android devices with Hearthstone and have firsthand testimonials since there can be a rather large gap between "playable" and a pleasant game experience. Alternately, you can try a screen share app to access your desktop from your tablet (a lot of people say this works for them, although I haven't tried it).
posted by angst at 7:47 PM on December 12, 2014

You should definitely check out's like ebay/craigslist for phones and tablets...some great deals out there and really good tools like price tracking and such.
If you're not familiar with android, keep in mind that every manufacturer tweaks it a bit...I've been most happy with Samsung. A galaxy tab is probably your best bet. (I'm currently saving for a note pro)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:39 PM on December 12, 2014

I have a 1st-gen iPad, and while it taunted me with letting me download and install Hearthstone, the game will not let me play, and wants an iPad 2.

Netflix on my iPad is… cantankerous. At best. All the planets must be lined up right and the proper sacrifices made, before it will play a video without crashing.

Get at least an iPad 2.
posted by culfinglin at 10:25 PM on December 12, 2014

lenovo outlet has "thinkpad 8" tablets on Intel chips running the full version of win8 for $220. has "retina" screen and probably spec comparable with the latest and greatest...
posted by at 3:42 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I second the nexus 7!
posted by bbqturtle at 6:37 AM on December 13, 2014

The Dell venue pro 8 is under $200, runs the full Windows operating system. Mine involved some mucking around to ensure wireless worked.
posted by jander03 at 8:14 AM on December 13, 2014

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