They can cut corners by excluding the rear camera. Its not needed on a tablet especially a budget offering. Durability is something that can also take an acceptable hit at this price. No one is gonna be using it for a long time anyway. Keep the boot loader unlocked so that its a good cheap device for devs and tinkerers. A dual core A9 soc with 1gb ram is a must these days. That being said the nexus 7 is the king of 7 inch tabs right now and affordable too, the new n7 is untouchable with the feature set it offers, a used 1gen n7 should be around the $100 mark and will be a better buy
reading textbooks on low res, low performance tablets is aweful experience. If Im going to buy a tablet to read textbooks, I will only get it if it can load pages instantly and I dont have to screw around with the pinch-to-zoom pain in the ass to read the words.
dual core a9 isnt all that good for loading color documents on my phone, so the low res slate 7 wouldnt be of any use in the text books back to school situation. I suppose a nexus 7 would be much better. nook hd is also a decent offer in the price range.
if crap is cheap, it doesnt make the crap any good. best save a bit more and get something decent.