It should come as no surprise that tablets are now big business in the UK. And it's easy to see the appeal, as they offer a much greater level of convenience and portability than a bulky laptop, but without some of the fiddliness that comes with the smaller screen of smartphones.
So much so that it seems they're starting to invade even more of our lives and not just be limited to a quick browse when we're on the move. Research by the Internet Advertising Bureau claims one in four Brits now owns a tablet, and we're said to be relying on them more than ever.
For instance, almost six in 10 (57%) tablet owners online say it's their go-to device when they want to surf the internet at home. Two-thirds of owners (66%) say it's easier to go online using a tablet, and almost two-thirds (65%) like to use them while watching TV.
What this shows is more people are finding they can't be without their tablet – and it's amazing how a technology that was unheard of just a few years ago has now become such a central part of our lives.
And its likely to only get more so in the coming months and years, as tablets are no longer a premium product that will leave you wondering which of your kidneys you can sell to afford one. A huge range of budget tablets have started cropping up in recent times, from Tesco's Hudl to Amazon's Kindle Fire and more are on the way.
Lenovo joins the fray
One of the latest firms to get on board with the budget tablet phenomenon is Chinese firm Lenovo. You might remember it recently made waves by snapping up Motorola from Google and it's wasting no time in boosting its mobile offerings with the introduction of its new A-series tablets.
The cheapest of these – the TAB A7-50 – is set to go on sale for just $129 (£77) in the US and is aimed at those who want to get online wherever they are. Obviously, you won't get anything earth-shattering for this price, but buyers will still get a seven-inch high-definition screen and it's described by Lenovo as "the ultra-portable on-the-go reading companion for those on a budget".
For those who want a little more than a glorified e-reader, however, there's also the TAB A8 and A10, which start at $179 and $249 respectively, and should offer a little more bang for your buck without threatening to break the bank.
What about other options?
Like many budget tablets, Lenovo's devices run on the Android operating system, which seems to have become the platform of choice for these gadgets – probably because it's cheap to add to a tablet and won't demand a huge amount of processing power just to get it past the startup screen.
But what other options are there for those on a budget? Well one addition that might show up in the coming months is Windows 8, as it's been suggested devices running this platform are in the pipeline and could be available for as little as $99 to $129.
This is according to Hermann Eul, Intel's corporate vice-president and general manager of Mobile and Communications. He told a conference in China that factors such as the removal of Microsoft licensing fees for smaller devices and cheaper processors such as Intel's Bay Trail design have made the prospect of Intel-based Windows tablets much more likely.
He was quoted as saying that "as we speak, we have more than 90 tablet designs coming to the market" that will be priced between $100 and $500. Whether Intel's traditionally power-hungry chips will be able to meet the demands of a budget device might be another matter, but the firm has been indicating for a while that the low-end of the market is one it's keen to make a breakthrough in, so this could be a key place to start.
Could we see Chrome OS on mobile?
This might not even be the end of the new options for budget tablet devices, if new rumours sparked by Acer turn out to be accurate. The firm has sent out invites for an event at the end of this month, and some commentators are suggesting this will involve the launch of a tablet running Chrome OS.
This is a platform that's already proven successful on some laptop devices, and its stripped-down interface and reliance on web-based applications could make it an ideal choice for use on low-budget tablet devices. Given connectivity is now much more widespread than even just a year ago, with more Wi-Fi and 4G options available, the time could be right for Chrome OS to finally make an appearance in the tablet market.