While new iPads continue to cost $500 and up, the market for cheaper alternatives is exploding. Unfortunately, most of the budget options are tied to smaller 7" screens with lowly 1024x600 display resolutions. Not Acer's new Iconia Tab A200, which is set to offer a 10.1" panel with a 1280x800 display resolution. The asking price? Only $330.
Nvidia's Tegra 2 SoC takes care of processing duties for the new Iconia, which looks to be about the same size and weight as Asus' first-gen Transformer. Presumably to cut costs, Acer has dropped the Iconia's rear-facing camera—no big loss on a tablet. The A200's connectivity options are surprisingly robust, though. In addition to a standard USB port, the tablet features a Micro SD slot and a Micro USB connector. Most tablets lack even a single USB port, making the Iconia rather well-equipped in this regard.
Although the A200 will ship with the Honeycomb version of Android, Acer says an update to Ice Cream Sandwich will be available in mid-February. The tablet itself is set to hit store shelves on January 15. There will be a $330 model with 8GB of internal storage and a $350 option with 16GB of flash memory. Both will purportedly offer up to eight hours of battery life.
The old 10.1" Iconia Tab A500 has already been slashed to $342 on Amazon, likely signaling its impending exit from the market. The 7" A100 is slightly more expensive at $360, but that price should drop after the A200 becomes available. It will be interesting to see whether Acer comes out with a cheaper 7" model in the same price range as the Nook and Kindle Fire. There's room at the high end of the Iconia lineup for a slimmer tablet based on Nvidia's new Tegra 3 processor, too.