Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

Summary: Apple seems to having trouble making iPads fast enough, but competing tablets haven't sold well. Will cheaper ones from Acer and Asus show tablets are here to stay?


The debate over tablets continues. Apple seems to be having trouble making iPads fast enough. But competing tablets such as the Motorola Xoom reportedly haven't sold well, and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook is off to a rocky start. The question is whether people really want tablets--in addition to a smartphone and PC--or just want an iPad.

One problem is that so far the challengers have been charging roughly the same prices for their tablets as Apple does for the iPad. The Xoom starts at $599 with 32GB of storage and Wi-Fi. The PlayBook , which has a smaller display, is $499 with 16GB and $599 with 32GB. The Wi-Fi version of the iPad 2 is the same price: $499 with 16GB and $599 with 32GB.

The average price of a Windows PC is much less than a Mac. And most smartphones sell for less than the iPhone 4. Similarly companies can't expect to sell Android, QNX, webOS or Windows tablets for the same price as an iPad. The simple fact is the iPad 2 has better hardware, better software and the best app store.

Over the next week or so, several companies will begin selling less expensive tablets. The Acer Iconia A500 Tablet is now available for pre-order at Best Buy for $449.99. The Iconia A500 has a 10-inch display, Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 16GB of storage and Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). The Asus Eee Pad Transformer goes on sale in the U.S. tomorrow starting at $399.99 with 16GB and $499.99 with 32GB. It has a 10-inch IPS display, Tegra 2 processor and Android 3.0. The Eee Pad Transformer also has an optional docking station with a keyboard for an additional $150.

Several sites have posted reviews of these tablets. Here are CNET's reviews of the Acer Iconia Tab A500 and Asus Eee Pad Transformer.

These less expensive models should provide us with a better idea of whether tablets are just a fab, as Microsoft CTO Craig Mundie recently suggested, or as Goldman Sachs wrote in a report last week, "one of the most disruptive forces in computing in nearly three decades."

Topics: Hardware, Apple, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

    Everyone loves a cheaper alternative, especially if it has the performance of a more expensive competitor. I have been holding out for a Transformer since I first heard about it.
    • Cheaper is cheaper: there is nothing to boast about Tegra-2 in Asus, for ..

      @Bates_: ... example: the graphics in it is 3-5 times slower than in A5 from iPad 2, and there is no proper multimedia/vector FPU, so the FP calculations are almost ten times slower.

      And layers of the screen there are not glued together to fight parasitic refraction. And the battery life is worse. And there are almost no applications. And it has glitchy, more cluttered OS. And it has no Airplay or Airprint abilities. And the accessible media library is weaker. ...

      I mean all of these tablets, even better once like Asus that I compared here, are worse than iPad 2 in almost everything major.
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @denisrs <br>Your using some pretty big terms, some that I don't even understand (I'm not that much of a geek, but I am one). But let me dumb it down in laymen terms, how great is the hardware on the iPads camera compared to Acer or Asus'? <br><br>As for screens both Acer and Asus use an ISP display. They both also have a resolution of 1280x800, which is better than the iPad 2, and have 16:10 ratio, rather than the iPad 4:2. Asus sporting 178 degree viewing angles and scratch resistant glass. <br><br>Battery life is about the same. And you can also get the keyboard dock with the Asus for less than an iPad 2, making the life go up to 16hrs and making it more useful for school, etc. Considering you get the dock with the Asus, you have a great notebook/tablet, and Honeycomb which can multitask. <br><br>"And it has no airplay or Airprint abilities." Well I hope not, they are patented by apple. That's all we need is another lawsuit to throw around. Both Acer and Asus are equipped with the abilities to play media on other devices. Asus even gives you a free year on ASUSwebstorage, similar to Apple's mobileme. <br><br>And as for their not being as many apps, okay there aren't. But the capabilities for honeycomb to format the apps to different screen sizes is much more developed than apples. Many people have used Android phone apps on their tablets and the screen size formats nicely, compared to iPads small little screen in the middle for apps not optimized for the iPad. You also have to buy them again for each device from apple; I'm not positive on this but I'd assume with google your account would just register the apps to your device (don't quote me on that)<br><br>all in all your argument of hardware and software doesn't carry that much weight. The great thing about honeycomb, or Android in general is that if you don't like it, root it, change it. <br><br>I'm not an Android fan boy, or an apple fan boy, I'm writing this on my macbook that I absolutely love. But given all that I've looked at seen, and played with, all android devices .(at least the Acer and Asus) seem to hold their own against the iPad
      • Message has been deleted.

      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?


        Graphics are not 3 - 5 times worse than the iPad 2, the tests used didn't even support the second core and this GPU is new to Android so the optimizations will Improve...

        As for the FPU, the GPU has 8 fully programmable cores and using an FPU has proven to be an inefficient way of handling any type of Media when the GPU is much better optimized for it.

        The Screen is an IPS Screen in the Transformer and you have no idea if the layers are glued together but you spout the same bullshit everywhere without a single link or article to back up your claims of how important this technology is! Not only that but the Transformer has a better pixel density and true HD Resolution.

        Explain how the media library is more accessible? Videos can be bought from Amazon and Streamed to the Tablet (Works Awesome) and even has new releases... Books are available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble as well as Google so that's not an issue! MP3's are available from multiple sources as are streaming music sources...

        As for being worse than the iPad in almost every area... Not likely!

        Dual Core that runs at 1 GHz = Better!

        1 Gig of RAM = Better!

        8 Core GPU = Better? Not sure because Apple won't state how many cores the iPad 2 has.

        1280x720 IPS Screen = Better!

        32 Gigs of Internal Storage and SD Card Support = Better!

        Stereo Sound = Better!

        GPS in Wifi Only Models = Better!

        1.2 / 5MP Cameras = Better!

        Real Multitasking = Better!

        2 Hour Charging Time = Better!

        Much less Cluttered Desktop = Better!

        Unified Notification Area = Better!

        HDMI Port Built-in = Better!

        USB Ports = Better!

        So tell me, where is this better you're talking about?

        As for Apps, there are more than you see listed as featured in the Android Market but you guys think the 70 Featured are all their is... I personally have assisted with getting two apps ready for Honeycomb and they're not featured yet they run flawlessly and format to the Tablets Dimensions.

        Also, most of the Android apps scale dynamically so that argument isn't valid but you guys preach that because you don't have much else to stand on!
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @denisrs Simmer down fanboy. No need to suckle at the Apple breast. I don't need an iPad2, I have an iPhone4 and will be getting the 5, so an iPad is useless to me. I want an Android device and the Asus just seems like the best bang for your buck. I didn't mean to get your Apple panties in a bunch. And you need to do some more research before you start throwing around fancy terms. The Tegra 2 is an impressive CPU just like the A5, no need to bash it like you... work for Apple! IT'S A TRAP!
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @denisrs AirPlay and AirPrint are nice, but the problem is that they're both proprietary standards. I have an iPad, and in order to print things, I need to email myself a page, and then keep a script running on my computer so that my mail client can print the page. Anyone who can make a tablet that can do the same job well, and make it work on any wireless printer will eat Apple's lunch; I Garuntee that.
    • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

      @Bates_ <br>"Everyone loves a cheap alternative". <br><br>Certainly not me. If they suits others, well and good, but not they're for me. There's a reason why they are cheaper . . . lower spec hardware and they often run older versions of Android (and my not be updatable). I suspect that over time many who buy cheap alternatives will become very disillusioned with their purchase.
      • they're using the wrong term in a lot of cases - it's not cheaper

        instead they should be saying "less expensive".
        Cheaper implies a whole different and less accurate meaning lots of times, where as less expensive implies just that - the expense is less
        Will Farrell
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @ptorning I think the iPads main strength is that its priced very competitively. People love to joke about how terribly expensive apple products are, but the truth is that apple has been making their products progressively more affordable for the last decade. In the iPad's case, theyve been able to deliver double the performance and industrial design as most of their competitors for a fraction of the price. For the time being, the iPad actually IS the cheaper alternative, that is, until the playbook (and arguably the new barnes and noble nook) came along, although you could debate about the relative quality and value of the two tablets for volumes...
    • There's logic, practicality, and then there's fashion.

      Why do women wear high heel shoes, when they are uncomfortable? Or why do men buy & wear 10,000$ watches or use 300$ fountain pens? Or why do people buy cars that can go 200 mph, when the speed limit is 65 mph?

      If all other things being equal: Technology meet fashion.
      Or: "Nerds do not grok what cheerleaders want".

      The product manufacturers who never understood Apple's tablet & iphone success, and are yet just throwing themselves on the bandwagon, are the nerds who do not know what to do get a date with the cheerleader, while blindly trying to emulate the quarterback.
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @voltrarian <br><br>*applause* Well said! */applause* :-)
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @voltrarian You do understand the basics of this and most of these other companies do as well... The key isn't the iPad, iPod or the iPhone... The Key is iTunes and most of them know this but they need a platform to deliver the content too.

        Here's what is happening right now:

        Amamzon has only to build a movie player / Streaming App and they effectively match iTunes product for product. Right now you can stream through their website but you cannot download the movies to the Android Tablets.

        Samsung has outright stated their media hub will have all the options that Apple has then it launches and they're creating desktop software as well. Personally, I see people jumping on the Amazon setup once it is all integrated because it will be device independant.
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @voltrarian well said.
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @voltrarian Well, I wouldn't put it that way. I think the correct argument is that a Ferrari is not in the same market as a honda civic, but a BMW is in the same market as a Lexus. Similarly, the macs are in the market with hp pavilions and other similarly expensive, high end prefab computers.
    • As long as the iPad can't do what a $199 mini can ....

      any and all are TOO EXPENSIVE!
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        @kd5auq If you have added "for me." at the end then you would have been right. Unfortunately you have no authority to determine what is or isn't too expensive for others.
    • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

      The simple answer is No. Cheaper tablets will be...well... cheap. They will look and feel cheap, they will not run iOS which is arguably the best mobile OS currently out there.
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?

        Arguably? Well I for one would have to argue against you on that... ;)
      • RE: Can cheaper tablets chip away at Apple's iPad?


        Arguably WebOS is the best mobile OS currently out. Which is not to say that webos devices will succeed, or that available apps is not its own distinct issue. But on the merits of an *operating system* and user interface, webos is the gold standard. You can see this conceded quite frequently on both iOS and android-centric forums.