How Cheap is Too Cheap for Android?

Discussion in 'Android Tablet News Depot' started by Spider, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. Spider

    Spider Administrator Staff Member

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    by Shawn Ingram on December 5, 2013 10:57 pm

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    The HP 7-inch tablet is just one example of the new wave of sub-$100 tablets.

    Late in November, Intel announced a partnership with HP that would bring a $99 Android tablet to Walmart stores, making HP the latest in a long line of companies to produce cheap Android tablets.

    Cheap Android tablets (around $99 or less) aren’t exactly a new phenomena. Since Google introduced Android for tablets with Android 3.0 Honeycomb, many companies have put out their own cheap tablets. These are the cheap no-name tablets you’d find on shelves or behind the counter at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. But now more recognizable companies are trying to get into the market.

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    The $99 Intel powered HP Mesquite is available at Walmart

    Companies like HP, Acer, and Dell are putting out Android tablets that trade off specs for price. The HP and Intel tablet, for example, has specs that make it seem straight out of 2011. It has a 7-inch 1024×768 display, 8GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, and a battery that’s rated for just five hours web browsing. It uses a year-old Intel Atom Z2460 processor, and runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean which is now almost 18 months old.

    If there’s anything appealing about the HP 7-inch tablet, and most of the other cheap Android tablets, aside from their price, its that most of them run stock Android. With year-old Intel processors or no-name ARM processors, it’s hard to say if any of these tablets can even run stock Android smoothly.

    Despite the poor specs, however, the low prices mean these tablets sell and will continue to sell. And they apparently sell very well. This year Walmart had its best Black Friday sales ever in the company’s history, and among the top products sold to mobile users that day were the Nextbook 7-inch Tablet with 8GB Memory with Google Mobile Services and RCA 7-inch Tablet with 4GB Memory. Both tablets currently sell for $69.

    While it’s hard to imagine a good experience on most cheap tablets, reviews for both of the best-selling tablets on Walmart’s website are overwhelmingly positive. The same goes for many tablets under $100 on Amazon. While those of us who spend our days obsessing over the latest and greatest smartphones and tablets look down on these devices, others are perfectly happy with last year’s specs, low-resolution displays, and limited storage.

    [​IMG]

    The new Nexus 7 remains the best value in its class.

    It’s tempting to tell them to just save up and buy a Nexus 7 or a Kindle Fire HD, and maybe someday they will. But for now, as tempting as it is to look down on these cheap tablets, they might be the key to getting better tablet apps on Android. If more people buy these cheap tablets, they will consequently demand better apps. Google has shown that it’s paying attention too, with the much needed Featured Apps for Tablets that was that was recently created on Google Play. Now, whether users are willing to pay for quality tablet apps is another question, but we’re confident the economics will work itself out.

    And maybe someday, these same consumers looking for bargains tablets will look towards better Android tablets that we accept as quality devices. That is, of course, unless they become frustrated and turn to cheap Windows tablets or save up for an iPad mini. Android is the most popular tablet and smartphone operating system in the world, and is on tablets and smartphones at all ends of the price spectrum, from cheap to premium. A natural byproduct of the intense competition in this space is that there is such hardware diversity in the wide world of Android. The beauty is that premium device launches always push the technological envelope, and lower the barriers to entry for lower priced segments. Technology gets cheaper over time through economies of scale, which is why we now have before us a remarkable device like the Nexus 7, which really does pack industry leading technology at a very competitive price.

    And while $99 tablets might not offer the best Android experience in their current form, it is almost guaranteed that a $99 tablet or smartphone will soon hit the market and will be able to offer a very nice user experience at this price segment sometime within the next 12-15 months.

    Do you think cheap Android tablets are good for the platform? Or do they run the risk of frustrating and potentially alienating a whole new segment of users? Leave your thoughts down below.
     
  2. edap

    edap Senior Member

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    Whether it's a cheap brand-name or no-name tablet, I'm glad that there are more and more available in bricks-and-mortar stores around this country. In the past, if you wanted to go cheap, eBay and China were the only alternatives, with dubious results, as we all know from posts on this Forum.
     
  3. Natey2

    Natey2 Senior Member

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    The sub-$100 tablets look like a good intro to Android (and technology, in general) for kids who frequently drop things and break them. Lol! Yes, there are broken iPads out there...
    If kids can keep such tablets pristine after 6 months, they qualify for that $300 tablet.
    I wouldn't buy any $500 iOS tablet for anyone: but that's just me.

    Sent from my Galaxy S4 using Tapatalk 4
     
  4. edap

    edap Senior Member

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    And, don't forget about newbies. I would have preferred buying an HP Mesquite for $99, rather than forking out $200 for my Acer, a year ago. Same specs on both devices, after all.
     
  5. vampirefo.

    vampirefo. Senior Member Developer

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    The cheap tablets are a blessing, they force these money hunger tablet makers to build better cheaper tablets.
    Everybody wins, without lower priced tablets the big name manufactures would continue releasing over priced unimpressive tablets.
    Now these companies have to make a good tablet priced right or they lose sales to cheap tablets.
     
  6. Vic42

    Vic42 Member

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    Yes, I would say there is a market for these cheap Andoid tablets.

    I bought the Nextbook Premium 7 SE 4GB with Google Play on sale for $50 last week from Big Lots. I'm fairly computer literate, but don't need the "latest and greatest", in fact am still on Windows XP and quite happy with it, and still have a flip phone. This tablet does mostly what I was looking for; get on and off the internet quickly on the road (with a cheap Internet on the Go Hotspot or free public WiFi), use my library's Zinio app to read all the magazines I want for free, get quick weather maps, quickly check my email, find "normal" prices online before I bid at an auction, easy to use. It's my first dive into the Android world, so I'm glad to have found one to fit my limited budget. I've learned how to navigate the menus, install Google Apps, locate settings. It's a good introduction, without being worried about tearing it up. And best of all, I have until Jan 15, 2014 to return it should I change my mind.

    There are a few items I will require on my next tablet. Good quality rear camera so I can run a barcode scanner and take good photos, GPS so Skymap will work properly, more storage so I don't have to worry about # of apps or photos, though I have yet to add the 32GB microSD card that this one will hold. I may go with a 10" tablet rather than 7", my magazines would fit better.
     
  7. vampirefo.

    vampirefo. Senior Member Developer

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    Yes the market is there, Walmart is selling quad cores for under $100. Now that is a deal, while other places sells single and dual cores with older OS, higher.
    Right now Walmart is the place to get a low priced, high performance tablet.

    Sent from my SPH-D710 using Android Phone
     
  8. Macktion

    Macktion Member

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    I don't think that there is a point that's too cheap. The less expensive that things are made for Android, the easier that it's going to be for everyone to get the quality of tablets and apps that they want. This is one of the most predictable but interesting developments since Android's big bite into Apple's market share. The more inexpensive Android tablets that bring in those extra people the more it makes sense for people to develop the apps that we want for Android and not just on iOS.
     
  9. edap

    edap Senior Member

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    Totally, in agreement. And, don't forget that that cheap tablet today has the same specs as one sold a year or two ago for over four times the price. Finally, we can buy cheap, low performance devices from the local electronics store, rather than sending away our money to China for their domestic brands.
     
  10. Macktion

    Macktion Member

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    Yeah, my first tablet was $500+, ran 2.2, had a dual core, and 1gb ram. You can find better speced now for 1/5 the cost.


    Sent from my M470BSA using Tapatalk 4
     
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  11. edap

    edap Senior Member

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  12. vampirefo.

    vampirefo. Senior Member Developer

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  13. edap

    edap Senior Member

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    I know! And, each time the price falls. God Bless America.
     
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  14. Spider

    Spider Administrator Staff Member

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    From what I see here on the forum, the cheap tablets that are made cheap to sell cheap are only suitable for experienced users with the ability to make whatever software and often hardware repairs are necessary to keep them running for more than a few days (If that long). Obviously, older brand name tablets that are deeply discounted are an exception to that.

    When purchased by a new tablet user, they often bring nothing but grief and a bad impression of tablets. Many of these folks buy them with the idea they'll be able to do whatever their friends with $500.00 tablets can do, and they're sorely disappointed with tablets when they can't.

    What we see then is, My brand new tablet won't:

    Turn on
    Charge
    Access the PlayStore
    Boot
    Access the internet at all
    Last more than an hour between charges
    Run this or that application
    Turn off
    Receive WiFi more than 3 feet from my router
    The (Pick one) button broke or fell off
    The screen has weird lines on it
    The screen won't respond
    Etc. etc. etc.

    Often accompanied by:

    There are no instructions
    Vendor support doesn't exist
    There's no manufacturer support
    No one can help (I'm the only one with this tablet)
    The tablet's in a foreign language
    Etc. etc. etc.

    I fully understand not everyone can afford a decent brand name tablet, but those same people can't afford to buy something unusable either.

    (I feel MUCH better now, pardon the rant. I probably just saw too many cheap tablet posts recently, and feel really sorry for the folks who wrote them.:rolleyes:)
     
  15. edap

    edap Senior Member

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    Just keep in mind that the "losers" who buy these questionable tablets are what keeps your Forum going.
     

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