The Tightwad’s Tablet: Finally, a Decent (and Cheaper!) Alternative to the iPad

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Apple all but owns the tablet market: More than 80% of the tablets sold are iPads. Will it finally face some legit competition this summer?

Well, at least in one case it’ll compete with a tablet that’s cheaper. Acer, which has been hugely successful in the laptop market by undercutting the competition, has introduced the Iconia Tab A500, which is cheaper than the iPad as well as products such as a HP’s new tablet coming out this summer. Acer’s tablet runs on Google’s Android operating system, and its starting price is $450 (versus $499 for the cheapest iPad 2). Based on Acer’s history, and the history of pretty much all gadgets, Acer’s new tablet will be retailing for far less than $450 in the not-so-distant future.

Is the Acer tablet looking like the long-promised “iPad killer”? A Daily News reviewer flatly says nope, not a chance. While the tablet’s screen and sound should score big points with consumers, Acer’s budget tablet is too bulky to earn a rave review:

The A500 is really worthy of all your best fat jokes. It’s wider than the iPad 2 and heavier, too. Sure, all the talk about tablets being heavy is pretty silly (isn’t the heaviest tablet still lighter than your average lunchbox?), but in the A500’s case, the size is pretty annoying. One-handed web browsing gets uncomfortable after, oh, 10 minutes, and the device is just too long for comfortable portrait viewing.

The gist of a WSJ review of the Acer tablet is similar:

… in my view, it offers the best value of any Android tablet on the market. While it doesn’t beat either iPad overall, the Iconia Tab offers a decent alternative to Apple, especially for multimedia enthusiasts who want to display their content on a TV, PC or smartphone without additional gear.

Of course, just because the Acer tablet is cheaper than the iPad 2 doesn’t mean it’s cheap. It’s not even cheaper than the original iPad, now selling for under $400.

For true tightwads, there’s another, much cheaper, more functional, and more practical iPad alternative out there. Chances are you own one already: It’s called a laptop.

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