It's one of the hottest Black Friday deals this year: An RCA 7 inch Android tablet for as low as $39 at several major discount stores.
Kimberly Bryant of Warren County, Ohio, grabbed one last year on Black Friday, thinking how could she go wrong at such a low price?
"I thought it was a good deal for a tablet to use around the house, for Facebook, email, that kind of thing," she said.
Battery Inflates "Like a Balloon"
But after less than a year of use, she tells me the tablet went very wrong.
"The battery started inflating," she said, "and the casing started to come apart on the tablet."
She showed us how an apparently inflating battery pack popped open the tablet, as if an airbag had gone off inside, making it unusable.
Her first thought: Someone had dropped it. But no one did.
So she checked Google and was stunned to find lots of people having the same issue.
Complaints Pile Up Online
Complaint sites are filled with dozens of complaints about RCA 7 inch tablets, with many claiming the battery "puffed up like a balloon."
Some have posted YouTube videos.
At Walmart.com, a customer says he bought 5 of the tablets, and claims the battery swelled up on 3 of them. (That 7 inch RCA tablet has been discontinued, and has been replaced by a newer model on the website).
The good news is no one has reported any fires or injuries from the battery.
So we emailed RCA, which is no longer a US electronics maker. It is now just a name licensed to several Chinese electronics makers.
A representative of Venturer Electronics in Canada told us they will replace Bryant's tablet free of charge, but had no further information.
Caution About Cheap Tablets
Kim Bryant says that is great, but will be wary of super cheap tablets in the future. "It didn't even last a year, and I want to warn other people it may not be the best thing."
She's not the only one sounding a caution.
They say buyers report many issues, from slow web pages to short battery life and poor touch screens.
So research a tablet first, so you're not disappointed and you don't waste your money.
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
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