CES opened in Las Vegas over the weekend, and one of the biggest trends of this year’s show is a crush of cheap new tablets running Google’s Android operating system. Alcatel introduced a lineup of three slates priced below $200, Acer’s Iconia B1-A71 (rolls off the tongue, huh?) is expected to be available for $150 or less, and Polaroid launched a kid-targeted tablet at $149.99.
The problem for these newcomers, though, is that the low end of the tablet market is already a crowded space. I’ve been impressed with my new 7-inch Kindle Fire from Amazon, which can be had for $160 or less, and the Fire HD is only $199. Meanwhile, Samsung’s 10-inch Galaxy Tab 2 was selling for $300 from some retailers during the holidays, and dozens of new and refurbished Android tablets are available from other manufacturers from about $80 to $300. Some of these cheap new gadgets have a chance to succeed, of course, but the market for inexpensive tablets has very quickly become very competitive.