With an ever increasing number of Android and Windows tablets hitting retail, one might expect Apple’s dominance in the market to be short lived. However, sales figures, reviews and user opinions paint a rather different picture.
The delayed introduction of Google’s Honeycomb OS added to the mix, but it is hardly the only issue vendors are facing. Several weeks ago, after Apple introduced the iPad 2 and slashed the price of the original iPad we could only conclude that the old, discounted iPad offered the best value for money in the tablet market. This has to be the first and only time an Apple product offered good value for money, which speaks volumes about the competition, or lack thereof.
The whole point of Android tablets was to offer good value for money, but somewhere along the road manufacturers seem to have lost the plot, quite badly. A quick glance at our price search engine reveals dozens of Android tablets, ranging in price from just €79 to €899, which is what consumers are expected to pay for LG’s 8.9-inch Optimus Pad.
There are some tempting offers, you can easily get a 10-inch tablet with a dual-core Cortex A9 for under €200, but we would stop short of recommending them. They are based on obsolete Android versions which are unlikely to be updated and user reviews are, you’ve guessed it, terrible. To be honest, nobody should expect iPad functionality and style for €100 or €150, but nonetheless the great unwashed seem largely unimpressed with cheap Android tablets. The only exceptions are a couple of Archos models and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, but even they aren’t doing too well in user reviews and worse yet, the Galaxy costs €299. The same goes for Toshiba’s Folio 100, Dell Streak 7 and even Acer’s new Iconia A100 – they are not bad, but all of them cost more than €330.
This is almost iPad money, which sort of beats the whole point of getting an Android tablet to begin with. The cheapest first generation iPad is still available in Europe, for about €370. At €400 to €500 we are already talking about rather pricey kit and this is Apple’s turf. The cheapest iPad 2, 16GB sans 3G connectivity, is priced at €450. Android tablets in the same price range don’t really offer better value for money. True, you might get 3G on some of them, or 32GB of storage, but this is hardly enough to take on the iPad 2.
The Acer Iconia A500, HTC Flyer, Motorola Xoom and Asus Eee Pad Transformer all cost about €500. This is about the same as the original iPad with 32GB of storage and 3G connectivity. It is worth noting that aforementioned Android tablets feature dual-core processors, but many of them lack 3G. This is where it gets truly ugly for the Android team. An iPad 2 32GB with 3G is hard to come by in Europe, but prices start at about €550. In our opinion, this is already too much for a tablet, but some vendors beg to differ.
Although it’s not an Android tablet, Blackberry’s Playbook 32GB with 3G costs €599. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 8.9 16GB goes for €699 and the 10-inch version is listed at €749. As we said earlier, LG’s Optimus Pad takes the cake with a whopping €899 price tag.
With all this in mind, it is rather interesting to see punters who have been complaining about Apple’s iPad pricing for the past year praising equally overpriced Android tablets. Objectively speaking, there are few reasons to go for any Android tablet at the moment. The really cheap ones are pants and they are simply not worth looking into. New Honeycomb models are rather good, but they cost as much as the iPad, sometimes even more, whilst at the same time offering very few features that would give them a competitive edge over Apple. On the other hand, Apple’s prolific iPad offers more apps, superior build quality and better resale value, as it will depreciate much slower than its nameless Android counterparts.
Be as it may, we still believe €400 or €500 is simply too much for any tablet, regardless of the OS or brand. So, while the competition might be largely harmless for the Jobs mob, the whole idea of paying that much for a tablet is rather pointless.
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