Well it only took a little over a year, but Android tablet makers have finally decided to compete against the iPad’s $500 starting price.
Acer is first out of the gate with its $450 Iconia Tab A500, slated for launch this Sunday, April 24th at Best Buy. It’s got a 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, one gigabyte of RAM, 16 gigabytes of storage—expandable via memory card, front- and rear-facing cameras, and it runs Google’s made-for-tablets operating system Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).
It’s a tad on the hefty side at 1.7 pounds but for the most part, everything else checks out: battery life is great at around 10 hours, the screen is nice and responsive, and everything generally hums along snappily.
I felt myself saying, “Yes, this is how Android tablets should be,” more than a few times. The apps aren’t quite there yet and the operating system needs a little polish, so until then, the best thing these tablets can do to drum up interest for the platform is compete on price—plain and simple.
And while $450 is a step in the right direction, Acer’s reign as king of Android tablets (price and specs considered) may be short-lived, as Asus’ Eee Transformer tablet is due out two days later at just $400. The specs between the two tablets are very similar, with the Asus tablet weighing just 1.5 pounds while the Acer tablet is slightly thinner.
Whatever the case, consumers win here. Apple still has a very, very compelling product in the iPad but we’re now finally seeing Android tablets being priced competitively. Once the Honeycomb operating system gets smoothed out a bit and the app store sees an influx of tablet-specific apps, we’ll start to the tablet wars heat up even more.
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