7'', Tegra 2-powered Acer slate priced at $349

Many firms seem to be diving into the tablet market with $500 slates that ape the iPad 2, so seeing a hardware vendor buck that trend definitely feels refreshing. I'm talking, of course, about Acer and its Iconia Tab A100. Engadget discovered that Walmart has put up a display tag for the product ahead of its release... and the retail chain quotes a surprisingly low $349 asking price.

According to the sticker, the A100 has a 7" 1024x600 display, Android software, 8GB of storage capacity, Wi-Fi connectivity, front and rear cameras, and a "Dual-Core 1 GHz processor." If we're to believe not-so-recent whispers from rumor mongers in Taiwan, that processor is none other than Nvidia's Tegra 2 system-on-a-chip, which also powers a number of more upscale tablets with larger displays.

Engadget claims a reader has already seen an Iconia A100 on display at a Walmart in Leavenworth, Kansas, so widespread retail availability could be imminent. I'm not seeing the A100 listed at Newegg or Amazon just yet, though.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm still having a hard time seeing the appeal of 7" tablets. They seem stuck in an awkward middle ground, too large to carry in your pocket yet too small to be as comfortable to hold and use for extended periods of time as higher-resolution 10" slates. Perhaps kids and non-techies will be more excited about something like the Iconia A100.

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