During CES this past January, tablets certainly weren’t in short supply. With the introduction of tablets like the Transformer Prime with the NVIDIA Tegra 3, the new trend will likely make quad-core all the rage. That said, as we’ve seen with the Kindle Fire, a tablet with decent specs and an awesome price can garner just as much attention as anything else these days.
Mobile World Congress will undoubtedly show us a handful of tablets later this month but we wanted to ask the readers what would be more important to see this year: High-end tablets with bleeding edge specifications, or something that is almost as powerful (give or take a few sacrifices), under the $300 price point? This is definitely a point where manufacturers could go in either direction but the focus seems to be the race of how many cores you can throw into a tablet.
When it comes to Apple, on the other hand, the company seems to have no interest in creating a cheaper tablet for the market. It will drop the price of the last-generation iPad, which is good thing but you’ll also be painfully aware that the device you have in your bag just “isn’t cool” anymore. While Apple has yet to drop the price of an iPad in the way it has done with the iPhones, we wouldn’t be surprised if we see this happen with the introduction of the iPad 3. But the rest of the world, somehow, will be astonished. Either way, at least Apple does in some way provide cheaper options for its customer, even if out of date.
As far as Android manufacturers are concerned, it’s the race to the top that counts. Most of the new tablets being announced are still tackling the iPad when it’s missing out on a market that Amazon has easily taken over, although at a loss. This market is virtually untapped and Amazon has shown that there indeed is a market for tablets that may not be bleeding edge but sport decent enough specs in the $200 -$250 price range.
The closest device we’ve seen attempting to blur these lines is the upcoming 7-inch Asus Tegra 3 tablet for $250. The CPU alone is enough to want one but we still don’t have solid specs on the device as of yet. If we begin to see the likes of Samsung, Motorola, and others make 7 inch tablets with great specs and keep the price down, it would be easy to imagine that the adoption of Android tablets in general would see a boost.
I have a friend who runs an after school program in San Francisco that uses iPads as a medium for learning. As it’s grown, however, the company needs more tablets for students and was ready to sell an iPad for two Kindle Fire tablets. Then after reading the reviews, it eventually decided that the Fire wasn’t what they were looking for and asked me if there were any sort of alternatives similar to Amazon’s affordable offering. Unfortunately, at the moment, that would be a big fat no. If you’re a growing start-up, the idea of having to drop another $500 on one iPad is hard to swallow but what do you do when there are virtually no viable alternatives?
“We love our iPads and so do our students but the thought that we could essentially buy five Kindle Fire tablets for the price of two iPads makes us want to jump ship.” said Xavier Serrato, Co-founder and Executive Director of Vision Academy in San Francisco. ” But we’re still waiting for cheap options other than the Kindle Fire before we sell our iPads. Tablets hold a big part of some of the curriculum we teach students, so as we’re growing, we need to be able to put more tablets into more student’s hands and we can’t see ourselves buying 10+ iPads anytime soon.”
Tablets are slowly becoming a part of the classroom and unless you have $10,000 to supply 20 students with an iPad, the need for a cheaper, yet capable option should be just as much of a priority to companies than the high-end tablets being pushed out today.
I have no doubt that I’ll be grabbing the 7 inch Tegra 3 tablet from Asus when it debuts. Not because I desperately need a tablet (in reality, no one does) but because I can buy one without feeling like I spent a lot of money on a toy I won’t use as much as my smartphone. Asus and NVIDIA have shown that making an affordable tablet is not only possible but that it can be just as powerful as the $500 options that have already saturated the market today.
Who knows, if rumors are true, we may actually see some affordable tablets coming from Google itself this year. Like the Nexus One, maybe the search giant will light a fire (so to speak) to get other Android manufacturers on board.
So what’s more important to you this year? Would you rather save up and get that super powerful $500-600+ tablet or would you be happy to settle on a tablet for half the price that is still capable of getting you where you need to go and suiting your needs?