This year is supposed to be the year of the tablets. A market has actually developed with multiple competitors and lots of different price points, from the sub $100 range, all the way up past the $1000 range. Android was also supposed to make a big push toward dethroning Apple from its seat as the tablet king which it justly deserves due to its extremely well build and designed iPad range of products.
So, why am I writing this? I believe that Android should not try to steal the high end market from Apple. The iPad, just like the iPod before it, is a premium product, at a premium price. That’s all well and good and the rest of the manufacturers should go after the rest of the market. You know, the majority of the market, which cannot afford to drop $500 or $600 or even $1000 on a tablet device. A tablet is a supplementary computing device. It can replace your notepad, maybe your e-mail app, but it cannot replace your entire computer and to think so is pure folly.
We have had a slew of frankly awful tablets come out last year, but at least they were priced so low that you couldn’t really argue with them.
You could and still can get a tablet device that can connect to your WiFi network and which lets you browse the web and run some basic apps for less that $100. That price point is also great since these devices can be used to introduce younger people to technology. The HP, Motorola, LG and even ViewSonic offerings coming out in Q1 and Q2 of this year need to be treated with kid gloves.
I am not saying that the upcoming Android tablets are lacking in features or that their build quality is suspect, all I am saying is that I would not hand a $700 tablet to a teenager so they can learn about technology. I would also not recommend these to the technologically challenged. You know who I am talking about, that friend or family member who might really want to just do some basic computing, but who probably should not be dropping close to a grand on a product that they will use to YouTube and E-mail.
So, where are the cheap Android tablets? I am not talking about some NVidia Tegra powered, HD screen toting monstrosity that can pick up 10 input points and which contain a backlight so bright and technologically advanced that alien races will come down to check out that video of the cat playing the keyboard. What I am talking about is something in the $200-300 range with a few GB of internal memory and just enough performance to run Angry Birds and play videos off YouTube. If it can run Flash, great, make it closer to $300, if it cannot, make it $200. HDMI out would be nice and 1 or 2 Mini or Standard USB ports will definitely help the cause. Aside from that, just make sure that it runs the Google Apps (Market, GMail, Maps…) and put that thing on the market.
The reason why people are not diving in head first is simple, the cheap stuff isn’t good enough and the good stuff costs almost as much as a nicely equipped fully size laptop. Come on manufaturers, let’s focus and get this market where it should be.