Dirt cheap 7-inchers are the flavor of the month
Back at CES 2012 Asus revealed the ME370T, a $249 Tegra 3 7-inch tablet and today, almost six months later, it still has to ship one. Asus went completely silent on this product and the only hope now is to see it in early June at Computex, redesigned and rebranded as Google’s first Nexus tablet.
We still don’t know when Asus and Google will actually ship this product in volume, the rumour mill claims it will hit retail in July. With Google’s weight behind it, and the rumoured $199 price tag, it could unseat the Kindle Fire as the top selling 7-inch tablet.
That is not all. At a recent stock meeting Nvidia VP of investment relations Rob Csonger revealed Kai, a $199 seven-inch Tegra 3 powered tablet reference platform. This reference platform should allow manufactures to develop a tablet at much lower cost and it is also been said that this platform uses DDR3L, for added power efficiency.
The first Kai based tablets could launch this summer, and one can only speculate if Google’s Nexus tablet will be the first device based on the new platform. There is a reasonable chance that Nexus 7 inch tablet might end up based on Kai and even at the same $199 price range. However, the really good news is that it will not be the last one, as other vendors will probably come up with a few designs of their own.
Seven inches is a nice size for e-book readers, and people who don’t mind reading on glossy tablet screens love the form factor. At $199 price there is definitely a market for such a tablet. Having a Kindle Fire competitor at the same screen size but much better hardware and unrestricted Android 4.0 sounds like a bulletproof idea. Kindle users were annoyed by the lack of a real app market and some Amazon enforced limitations to the tablet.
Furthermore Kindle Fire sales slumped in Q1 and Google could use the opportunity to introduce the first Nexus tablet just ahead of the iPad mini and Windows tablets. It is also an interesting deal for Nvidia. Tegra 3 is a good choice for tablets, as it features plenty of processing power and Tegra exclusive games, while at the same time most tablet users won’t mind the lack of LTE. So, it all seems like a pretty good arrangement for Google, Nvidia and tablet vendors who take up Kai.
Nvidia is committed to bringing Tegra 3 based Windows 8 RT tablets later this year, as this should be a yet another „game changer”. Hedging one’s bets on more than one OS is always a safe approach, as things can always go either way.