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CES: Has the Disposable Tablet Era Arrived?

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One tablet manufacturer in the Shenzhen section at International CES is displaying a sign that asks, "What can you do with $60 " Based on an informal survey of the devices on display at the annual consumer electronics event in Las Vegas, $60 could almost buy you two 7 inch Android tablets. With tablet prices touching $35, the question begs to be asked Have we entered the era of the disposable tablet

In the Venetian Expo of the annual technology trade show, more than 35 booths were selling cheap tablets in every shape, size and configuration imaginable. All those devices had one thing in common: They were incredibly inexpensive.

Tablet devices from companies such as Epudo and Kingnod were available in an array of different configurations with prices well below those from familiar brand names such as ASUS, LG, Samsung and Sony.

The price point for the least expensive tablet spotted in the Shenzhen section at CES was $33. For that cost, you get a single-core, WiFi-only, 7-inch tablet with 1 GB RAM and 4 GB flash storage. The plastic case device runs Android 4.1 or 4.2 and has front and rear facing cameras. A dual-core tablet on display from Shenzhen CTI Industrial went for $34. Moving up just a buck to $35, Hank Electronics was displaying a 7-inch single-core tablet running Android 4.2.

On the devices another price level upwards, you see features such as 3G, 4G/LTE, HDMI output and Bluetooth. A few more dollars upstream from the most inexpensive models starts to bring larger screens (8- and 9-inch models), screens boasting IPS/high pixel-density and dual or quad-core processors. Allwinner, Boxchip and Rockchip were among the processors spotted on the tablets in the Shenzhen section.

Though not impossible to order direct from the manufacturers, the inexpensive tablets spotted in the Shenzhen section at CES are not now available at retail in the United States, though some vendors were selling floor samples to attendees.

Even at the high-end, these tablets from the China Tech Ecosystem still carry price tags well below the entry-level devices from the biggest tablet brand names. The Shenzhen manufacturers are pushing price points upward, however, with the introduction of dual-OS (Android and Windows) tablets. So while the price on entry-level tablets may be approaching bottom, new dual-OS tablets are starting to emerge at the $250 price, according to PCWorld.

With such low-cost devices, perhaps the burner tablet may soon replace the burner phone. When you can walk into a convenience store and come out with a soft drink and a tablet for less than $40, it may be hard to deny the disposable tablet era is here.

Photo credit: Intel

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Tags: tablets