I handed my new Android 4 tablet over to the guy sitting next to me at last week's Revit Technology Conference in Australia, and announced: "This is what Apple needs to be afraid of."
He took it from my hand, felt its weight, examined it thickness, and handed it back. "It seems to be about the same weight as an iPad, and maybe a bit thicker," he concluded.
This wasn't the point, and perhaps he could not know it. Last year, I bought a cheap Android 2.x tablet. Made in China, it was of poor quality, which I overlooked due to its $80 price tag:
- Short battery life (1-2 hours)
- The 7" screen had poor responsiveness and unexpected behavior. Indeed, I found the best way to control it was with a keyboard!
- A vibration unit that felt like a small motor was mounted inside!
- 800MHz CPU
- Stuck at Android 2.3 due to the CPU's limitations
- Not supported by Google, so no Google App store (by default)
A couple of weeks ago, I bought an Android 4.0.3 tablet. Also made in China, it made great strides in quality at a $150 price tag:
- Long battery life (not yet measured, but feels like nearly all day long)
- 8" multi-touch screen with ipad-like 1024x768 resolution.
- 1.5GHz (single core) CPU and 8GB RAM (and can take a 32GB microSD card)
- Fully supported by Google, so Google app store (Play)
- Beautiful looking design
- miniHDMI output; WiFi; USB Host (means you can plug in peripherals like mouse and keyboard, other Android devices, hard drives, etc)
Now, it does have some drawbacks:
- Only sensor is orientation; no GPS, light meter, Bluetooth, etc.
- Front viewing camera is only 0.2 megapixel, so terrible
- Screen is made of soft plastic, so can scratch
- Runs most software, but sometimes there is a longish delay just after an app starts, particularly when a Web browser launches a new page
My point is to point out the great strides taken by Chinese manufacturers in upping the quality of low cost tablets. The look and feel of this Ployer Momo8 tablet is really nice, one you'd be proud to nestle in your lap. Here's how the back looks:
HP showed us that pricing a good-quality tablet at $99 would make it sell like hotcakes. Google is working with nVidia and Asus to bring Apple's "standard" price down from $500 to $200.
I expect that by next year this time, the view of Apple's iPad pricing will have switched from "shockingly low" to "surprisingly high."