By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
I remember forking over $649 for a first-generation 16GB Samsung Galaxy Tab (granted it was a WiFi + 3G version) back in 2010, I also bought a 64GB BlackBerry PlayBook in 2011 when these were discounted for $300 and was all too happy to pay $250 for a quad-core Nexus 7 earlier this year. Now Lenovo and Samsung are offering their entry-level 7-inch tablets at $150 in time for the holiday shopping season.
Lenovo's IdeaTab 7 sells for $150 and features a 7-inch screen with a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution, 8GB of onboard storage (expandable by way of a microSD Card slot), a 2 MP rear camera and a 0.3 MP front facing camera as well as asingle core ARM Cortex A9 processor running Android OS 4.0.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2.0 has been recently discounted ($100 off) and is also selling at $150. It has 8GB of onboard storage but with expansion available by microSD Card slot. A 7.0" WSVGA PLS Display with Gorilla Glass, a 3MP camera with HD 720p video recording capability. The advantage of the Samsung option is that it uses a dual-core processor so running the same Android 4.0 OS will be faster all around. I asked an associate in my local Best Buy and smiledand told me that they, "have a ton of these," so perhaps the lower price point was a necessity to get the Galaxy Tabs moving off inventory.
More expensive (but eminently more desirable) are the Nexus 7 tablets running the pure Google OS (4.2) Made By ASUS for Google, the Nexus 7 models start at $240, but these have double the storage capacity at 32GB and more powerful quad-core processors as well as a Google guarantee that they will run the latest version of Android before anything else in the market (at least for the next year and a half). The downside of the Nexus tablets is that they don't have any expansion but I've loaded my 16GB model to the gills and still have 8GB free.
The $150 Android tablets are compelling presents this holiday, specially Samsung's offering since it is a device with better specifications and a nicer screen and feels more portable. There's also the option of nabbing a BlackBerry PlayBook for $149 and that's for the 32GB version. The PlayBook has been around for a while and it doesn't offer the latest hardware but it is still a great little tablet and there's the promise of BlackBerry 10 OS update coming next year.
I can't really tell if these tablets are racing to the bottom in pricing to undercut the hugely popular iPad mini (which is still in short supply, at least in Toronto stores with only the more expensive 64GB version available in the stores I've gone to).
For users who just want a tablet and don't need it to be an Apple iPad, there's certainly a lot of choice and in various price points. These companies might also be clearing stock for whatever they will announce at CES next month.
The cheaper Android tablets are also gunning for the rather confusing eReader tablet market. At $150, they are cheaper than some of the coloured eReaders which offer only a limited Android OS.
The Lenovo or the Samsung tablets will offer the whole gamut of Android OS apps plus can handily run software from Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and even Kobo plus many others. Sure their colour displays may not match the easy-on-the-eyes eInk screens from the cheaper eReaders but having all your reading apps on one device is a better deal for the casual reader.
Things are getting very interesting in the tablet space now with the iPad mini lording over the high end with the best ecosystem and established presence and for two hundred dollars less, you have a wide range of choices in the Android and BlackBerry operating systems.
Is $150 enticing enough for you go get an Android tablet? Will the lower price convince iPad mini buyers to reconsider their choice? Will the eReader segment take a hit from similarly priced yet more capable devices that are geared towards more than reading? These are all viable questions that present themselves in the wild and wooly world of tablets.