Brace yourself, this is going to get confusing. Not because the story is difficult to follow, but rather because the reasoning is a little suspect. Asus has been rumored to be releasing a $99 Android tablet for a while now, and the Slate was by all accounts going to be that device. Instead, the 7-inch Slate is being bumped up to something closer to the $129-$149 range, because according to Asus they don't want to cannibalize their own profits on the Nexus 7, which they also manufacture. Even though it doesn't look like we're going to see the Slate from Asus at this price point, Acer is filling the gap with a new $99 7-inch Android tablet, the Iconia B1.
The Iconia B1 isn't a powerhouse, but that helps explain its low asking price. Here's what we know so far about the specs:
- 7-inch screen
- 1024x600 Resolution
- 1.2GHz Processor
- Android 4.1 (speculated)
- Sim-card Slot (speculated)
What did you notice in that list? For starters, the resolution probably sounds familiar if you made the mistake of picking up a BlackBerry PlayBook, which featured a similarly poor showing in the resolution department on a 7-inch device. The second thing to catch your eye was probably the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean listing, if only because I'm assuming you're reading the list from the top down. This may be the real kicker, so to speak, that convinces people in the market for a low-cost Android tablet to pick the latest offering from Acer instead of the Kindle Fire, iPad Mini, or the Nexus 7.
The last interesting bit of information is the speculation that the Iconia B1 might include a Sim-card slot, offering up the ability to get cellular data service with your budget device. There's been no word from any carrier if they plan to offer service for a new Acer device, so there's no way to tell if this could end up as a free device with new service. The Iconia B1 is expected to release in Q1 of 2013. So, would you pick up this low-cost Acer tablet over a Nexus 7 or any other tablet? Perhaps the bigger question is whether upping the price on the Slate is going to have the desired effect of creating two price levels which don't cannibalize each other, can did Asus make the right decision?