mardi 30 août 2011

Next wave of tablets land: Will lower prices equate to volume?

By Larry Dignan | August 12, 2011, 5:57am PDT

HP’s TouchPad now starts at $399. Acer’s Iconia A100 starts at $329 (at least at Walmart and 8GB). And Vizio’s 8-inch tablet can be had for $299. The screen sizes may vary, but the song is still the same: Tablet prices are coming down.

For tablet buyers—and anyone wanting to see Apple’s iPad see a little competition—the price reality check is welcome. Vendors realize that Apple’s supply chain prowess has led to a pricing advantage that’s hard to beat and that plans to match the iPad on price just won’t work. The upshot: These vendors have to take lower margins in an attempt to gain market share.

All tablets have some sort of weakness. Android has its quirks. Hardware is all over the map. Integration can leave a bit to be desired. Even the iPad, the market leader, has its issues—especially if you send your kid to and hope to play a Flash Dora the Explorer game.

See all tablet coverage

With prices falling we’re at an interesting juncture in the market. At what price will these tablets look like values? Value in the technology space is all relative, but there’s an intersection point where HP’s TouchPad looks like a deal and consumers take the plunge.

Jason Perlow argues that HP should aim to be Pepsi to Apple’s Coke. Where does that leave the Android army? Perhaps as generic soda pop.

In the end, I’m more than willing to look over flaws, slightly buggy software and other quirks if the price is right. That price for me is in the $250 ballpark. We’re not to the realm of $200 workable tablets without too many compromises, but the market is headed in the right direction.

Add it up and $399 is the new $499 for tablets. By Christmas, $299 may be the equivalent of today’s $499 tablet.

Here’s a look at some of the latest contenders.

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