When the Kindle Fire debuted last year analysts predicted that the tablet’s $199 price tag would initiate a race to the bottom on tablet prices. That prediction proved prescient at this year’s CES where we saw several high-profile Android tablets priced between $179 and $249.
Unlike the Kindle Fire and it’s arch nemesis the Nook Tablet, these 7-inch slates aren’t all stripped of their Bluetooth radios, their cameras, and their Android Markets. Does that make them better and more appealing? These all come out in the next few months (if they aren’t already), so we’ll know soon.
Which one of these five Android tablets appeals most to you?
ASUS MeMO 370T – $249
Specs: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS, 16GB internal storage, 1.3 GHz Tegra 3 (quad-core) CPU, 1GB RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth, 1280 x 800 resolution, microSD slot, micro HDMI, 8MP rear camera.
Pros: Quad-core Tegra performance should prove excellent; full Android tablet experience, including Android Market; latest Android OS; plenty of internal storage; HD display is beautiful; HD output; good build quality and design.
Cons: It’s not out yet.
Availability: Second quarter 2012.
Read: ASUS MeMO Hands-On [Video]
Lenovo IdeaPad A1 — $249
Specs: Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, 16GB internal storage, 1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 3622 (single core) CPU, 512MB RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, 1024 x 600 resolution, microSD slot, 0.3MP front camera, 3MP rear camera.
Pros: Full Android experience, including Android Market; front and rear cameras; good build quality and design; large internal storage.
Cons: Old operating system; same resolution as Kindle Fire; needs more RAM; no HDMI or HD output.
Nook Tablet — $249
Specs: Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS with Nook Interface, 16GB internal storage, 1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 (dual-core) CPU, 1GB RAM, WiFi, 1024 x 600 resolution, microSD slot (up to 32GB).
Pros: Nook interface makes Android easier to work with for less tech-savvy users; robust content ecosystem for books, magazines, comics and more; good build quality and design; large internal storage.
Cons: Nook App Store isn’t as large as Amazon’s plus no access to Android Market by default; older operating system; no multimedia content buying options on board; no HD output; no Bluetooth; no cameras.
Read: Nook Tablet Review
Archos 70B — $199
Specs: Android 3.1 Honeycomb OS, 8GB internal storage, 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A8 (single core) CPU, 512MB RAM, 1024 x 600 resolution, microSD slot, mini HDMI out, WiFi, Bluetooth.
Pros: Full Android experience, including access to Android Market; robust multimedia and codec support, supports playback of more formats than most tablets; outputs display to HDTV; three-position kickstand.
Cons: Resolution is low compared to other Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich tablets; CPU/RAM combo suggests uninspiring performance.
Availability: This month.
Coby MID7042 – $179
Specs: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS, 4GB internal storage, 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 (single core) CPU, 1GB RAM, WiFi, 800 x 480 resolution, micro SD slot (up to 32GB), mini HDMI, front-facing 1.0MP, 720P camera.
Pros: Full Android experience for much less than Kindle Fire; latest Android operating system; HD output; 1GB of RAM.
Cons: No Android Market (may be available at launch), low resolution display; may not get great performance from processor.
Availability: By March 2012.