7-inch Tablet Wars: How Low Can Prices Go?

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The low-end of the tablet market keeps getting more interesting, as device makers scramble to lure people in with cheap hardware.

The latest move comes from Barnes & Noble, which over the weekend slashed prices across its Nook tablet line:

Compared to the Nook Color, the Nook Tablet has a snappier dual-core processor and better battery life, but both Nooks have microSD slots for expandable storage. All of Barnes & Noble’s tablets run a highly-modified version of Android with an emphasis on e-book and magazine reading. Barnes & Noble also runs its own app store, though it’s not as extensive as Google Play, and there aren’t nearly as many free apps available.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook price cuts aren’t likely to be the year’s last big move in the cheap tablet market. As Gizmodo pointed out last week, Amazon briefly sold its oversized Kindle DX e-reader for $110 off the sticker price, possibly to clear inventory ahead of a rumored larger Kindle tablet. Some of Amazon’s other Kindle e-readers are in short supply as well, so an overhaul for the entire Kindle line could be imminent. When that happens, the price of the existing Kindle Fire could very well drop below $199.

What to do, then? If you simply want the best 7-inch tablet right now, scrounge up the extra dough and get a Nexus 7. It’s smoother than any of the tablets from Barnes & Noble and Amazon, it has more apps and it’s faster at switching between multiple programs. Alternatively, you can wait to see if Apple launches a smaller iPad, as rumored, but pricing and release timing are still anyone’s guess.

If you just want a cheap tablet for reading and the occasional web page or app, I’d also suggest waiting a little longer. The Nook price cuts aren’t going away, and if the original Kindle Fire falls to around $150, it’d be a better buy than the Nook Color at the same price. We may even see another price war like the famous e-reader showdown of 2010.

Prices are plummeting because tablet makers want you hooked on their apps, e-books and other content, and they’re willing to sacrifice hardware profits to claim your future business. With new competition from Google — and possibly more pressure from Apple — Barnes & Noble and Amazon have nowhere to go but down.

MORE: 30 Days with Google’s Nexus 7 Tablet

10 comments
AWM1983
AWM1983

I have really been considering the Nexus 7. It doesn't suffer from the lack of Google Play like the Kindle does and it offers a stock Android experience so I should never have to wait too long for updates. I love everything about the Nexus with one exception, it doesn't have a micro SD Slot! An 8 gig model is $199 and the 16 gig is $249? Really? I can get a 32 gig micro SD for $20 or $30 bucks and Google is going to charge $50 for 8 gigs? They had me hooked right up to that point.

Fatesrider
Fatesrider

On a somewhat more cynical note, Apple has never - NEVER - priced their items based on the competition's prices.  Remember, they don't sell devices.  They sell an "experience" that none of the others offer.

So I expect their basic, "no one wants this one"7 incher will be priced about 50USD lower than their lowest end iPad and their super-duper special 7 incher will go for about a hundred less than its comparable super duper 10 incher.   This, of course, continues the Apple status quo of completely ignoring the prices of the other tablets out there.

Apple only ever competes with Apple.

Anyone want to make a gentleman's bet on this?

Jocuri
Jocuri

Good price but it is dificult to chose betwen Phone and tablet

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

199.99 is a good price for new technology in 7inch form factor.

John Kolak
John Kolak

Is this review a promotion for Time advertisers? The prices cited aren't very low. If you look at ebay, you can get a 7 inch for $120 or less if you want to stick to a name brand like the Hyundai A7, or even less if you want to take a chance on an unknown brand or step down to an earlier version of Android.

charlieromeobravo
charlieromeobravo

"Alternatively, you can wait to see if Apple launches a smaller iPad, as rumored, but pricing and release timing are still anyone’s guess."

Or IF there even will be a 7" iPad.  Let's not forget that it's still a rumor.  You could wait forever potentially if you wait for that one...

Manuel Avellan
Manuel Avellan

Pads have been out for 3 generations now, don't buy the new ones go back 1 generation and get them with dual processors cameras and 10"screens for what the tiny Nooks, kindle or Nexus wants for a new one.

I own A refurbished  Xoom 32 gig 3G, $200 10"great for reading, internet,games, movies, HD videos and photos  I also own a Acer Iconia A500 16 gig with GPS, Refurbished $200 pretty much the same as the first plus a usb plug and best of all NO ITUNES, everything is drag and drop and finally an IPAD 1 (which I purchased new)16 gig by far the clunkies and least refined of the three.

 My kids love these devices and use them every single day, and so do I. There are more free apps and games than you can posibly play. and if you really like them they go for $1 to $3

Of the three I believe that the Acer is by far the best, with the camera being it's weak spot.

Bruce McFarling
Bruce McFarling

But if what you want is a 7" skinnytab, a 10" fat-tab is bigger than you want and costs more to boot. I would be quite interested in an 8" 4:3 tablet, but don't have any interest in a 10" tablet.

Jared Newman
Jared Newman

Great tip. I love that full-sized USB in the Acer. I wish more Android tablet makers did that. Wired game controller + classic game emulators ftw.