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Summary:

Acer’s answer to the iPad 2 will cost $449 and is now available for pre-order from Best Buy in the U.S. Hardware specifications are only part of the equation, and Honeycomb has room for improvement, but this pricing gives consumers a reason to consider the A500.

acer-iconia-a500

UPDATED: Acer’s Iconia Tab A500 will sell for $449 when it becomes available April 24, although U.S. consumers can pre-order the tablet online through Best Buy starting today. Acer also today announced accessories for the A500, including a wireless keyboard, dual-angle desktop dock with infrared remote control and a case with two display positions.

The A500 is Acer’s answer to Apple’s popular tablet and shares similar hardware features to the 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad 2: the same internal storage capacity, a dual-core CPU (Nvidia’s Tegra 2) a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800, multitouch, capacitive display, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 5-megapixel rear camera with autofocus, and a 2 megapixel front camera for video calling through Google Talk or other third-party services. Acer’s A500 will run on Google’s Honeycomb (Android 3.0) operating system, so it will also be compared to Motorola’s Xoom Wi-Fi model, which boasts double the storage, but costs $150 more than the Acer’s tablet.

Critics of Honeycomb tablets will correctly point out that a solid tablet experience is at least as important, if not more so, than the actual hardware specifications. It’s early in the Honeycomb life-cycle, but my own impressions show an operating system that was rushed to market with room for improvement in the experience and available software. The operating system still can’t take advantage of external memory, a possible differentiator in the minds of consumers, until Honeycomb sees a software update. Like the Xoom, Acer’s A500 has a memory card slot and can be used to add 32 GB of storage, for example.

In light of these challenges, Acer has positioned the A500 well in terms of price by undercutting the iPad by $50. Hardware specifications and user experience aside, it’s price that will get consumers to at least consider this, or any other, tablet. And a lower pricing trend will help spur both the tablet wars and sales of such devices. Earlier this week, a pair of smaller slates were priced at attractive points that could spur more interest: Acer’s smaller A100 appeared in the UK for £299 ($483 USD) and is rumored to hit the U.S. for $399 or less, while a 32 GB Wi-Fi model of Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab was announced at $349.

Update: After publishing this post, Acer reached out to inform us that the A500 doesn’t face the same external memory constraint of the Motorola Xoom, saying the “A500 does indeed have the capability out of the box to utilize external storage including the micro SD reader.”

  1. Kevin, I know its selfish, but I would LOVE to hear about the Samsung 5″ Galaxy S. I think they announced it to be wifi only – but maybe even a 3G variant will surface eventually.
    5″ is so cool, and Dell was messing this space for too long. Samsung can really make it happen! Looking forward to news around it … ;) thx

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    1. If you mean the Galaxy Player, coming in both a 4″ and 5″ model, I’m right there with you Tal. Not sure I can drop the money to buy one since I have a 7″ Tab and iPod touch already, but I would love to get my hands on one. Samsung is quietly building a media ecosystem to bring value to the Galaxy line and that’s going to help them standout from others, minus Apple of course. ;)

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      1. Galaxy Player … didn’t know this is the name now. Thanks! If only they also made it a 3G phone. I am drooling thinking of such a smartphone.

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        1. Here’s news of the Galaxy Player announcement: http://gigaom.com/mobile/why-samsungs-galaxy-player-rivals-apples-ipod-touch/ Doubt the Galaxy Player will see a 3G radio, but of course there’s a Galaxy S II handset with large (not 5″ though) display coming soon.

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    2. auststreaker Sunday, April 10, 2011

      +1 here.

      I have been on the dell streak for about 6 months now and love it.
      I would move to this samsung 5″ instantly if
      -Res was higher
      -Amoled screen
      -And of course phone capabilities
      -Bonus if dual core, 10+mp camera etc

      Samsung would get all the Dell Streak lover moving across with high res amoled screen.

      Infact, I am still hoping for a phone between 5″ to 5.6″ screen estate as it would still be pocketable and there is none forthcoming.

      Acer Iconia 4.8″ anyone?

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  2. I think $50 is not enough of a discount for a knock-off with an alpha tablet OS. It would need to be at Nook price levels to be attractive.

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    1. Agree.. Apple will respond with a 5-7″ iPod touch, and hopefully prices keep spiralling downwards!

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  3. Paul Johnson Friday, April 8, 2011

    Congratulations to Acer to finding a new way to lose millions of dollars. Selling below cost is a crime.

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    1. The component teardown costs of the Xoom and iPad are both under $300, so I’d expect Acer’s to come in at or near the same, i.e.: they’re not selling this tablet below cost. They may be selling it at a very low profit margin, which could seriously impact them financially over the long term, but there’s no crime in making that decision. ;)

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  4. Congrats Acer, between this, the Asus and Toshiba slate it is fair to say that it is the beginning of the end for Apple

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