Mobile World Congress is happening in Barcelona this week, and that means lots of new Android devices are being revealed. It kind of makes me sad since we all know most of these products will fail. It's like those nature programs that show us hundreds of baby sea turtles being born, and most of them not surviving their first few hours of life (only substitute in Android devices for cute baby turtles).
It's hard to understand how these companies think they're going to differentiate themselves. For instance Lenovo has 3 Android tablets in the works: the A1000, the A3000 and the A6000. What do they offer in addition to catchy names? The A1000 is a 7" tablet with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and that's about all we know. The A3000 is also a 7" device with a 1024 x 600 resolution display and a 1.2 GHz MediaTek processor. For those keeping score at home this means the A3000 is slower and has a lower resolution screen than the $199 Nexus 7 that launched last summer. The A3000 will come in 4GB and 16GB versions and it does have a MicroSD slot.
The A6000 is a 10.1" variant that bumps screen resolution up to 1280 x 800, which is pretty low for a 10" panel. The A6000 has the same processor as the A3000 and again, has a MicroSD slot. Lenovo says it will be pricing its Android tablets "aggressively" in order to compete with tablets like the Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire.
So Lenovo's angle is to go cheap.
That's the angle HP is taking, too. Yup, HP is jumping into the Android tablet business with the HP Slate 7, a $169.99 device. The Slate 7 has a dual-core 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A9 and is another 7" tablet with a screen resolution of 1024 x 600. It has 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage but does have a Micro SD slot for expansion. The Verge has more on the HP Slate.
On the other end of the spectrum is Sony. They announced the Xperia Tablet Z, a 10.1" tablet with a $500 price tag. I'd love to see this product do well as the specs seem pretty nice. It has a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution display driven by a quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor, and 2 GB of RAM. You get all that power in a 17.5 ounce package. It's just 6.9 mm (.27") thick. Check out Engadget's preview for more details.
But has there ever been a $500 Android tablet that was a major hit? I can't think of any, and we seem to be headed towards a group-think decision that 7-8" tablets are where it's at. I can't fault Sony for trying, but no matter how sexy the Tablet Z is, I don't see it doing more than niche sales.
I don't mean to pick on any of these companies; I just think the Android tablet market is too crowded and adding more 'me too' products isn't going to help anyone. I'm all for competition but I have to admit I'm waiting for the next generation of Nexus tablets before I start shopping for an upgrade.
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