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Acer’s Honeycomb Tablet Priced to Kickstart Sales

Acer’s Iconia A100, a 7-inch Google Android (s goog) Honeycomb tablet, has appeared for pre-order on Amazon’s U.K. site with a £299 (s amzn) ($483 USD) price tag, reports Netbook News. This marks the lowest Wi-Fi tablet cost to date from a top-tier manufacturer and also the first 7-inch slate to run Google’s latest operating system specifically optimized for tablets. Acer’s tablet is priced £80 less than the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and £100 below that of Apple’s (s aapl) cheapest iPad 2 in the U.K.

Such pricing gives the tablet a chance to compete. Although the device has no mobile broadband connection, is smaller than most tablets and includes only 8 GB of internal storage, tablet cost is a key decision point for consumers. A recent survey of customers who were already interested in tablets indicated the mean price point that consumers “would definitely buy” is $351. That’s less than the Iconia A100’s pre-order price, but devices are often priced differently in various regions of the world. Astraight currency conversion isn’t often used, and U.S. pricing typically comes in less than the converted price. That means Acer’s new tablet could be seen in the U.S. for $399 or less, which would make it appealing and provide a turning point for Android tablet sales when compared to Apple’s $499 iPad 2 or Motorola’s $599 Xoom (s mmi); both Wi-Fi models.

As the owner of a 7-inch Android tablet now (I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab on T-Mobile’s network), I’m interested in how well Google’s Honeycomb system will run on the Iconia A100. Like my Galaxy Tab, the A100 uses a 1024×600 resolution on the 7-inch screen. Android works well in that configuration on the Tab, but my tablet uses the smartphone version of Android: Froyo with some effective Samsung customizations, to be specific. Honeycomb is designed for larger displays with higher resolutions, so it could present some challenges on a smaller screen. The saving grace may be the use of application fragments, which Google describes as a modular method to break down software activities into multiple panes, making apps less dependent on certain screen sizes or resolutions:

[D]evelopers can break the Activities of their applications into subcomponents called Fragments, then combine them in a variety of ways to create a richer, more interactive experience. For example, an application can use a set of Fragments to create a true multipane UI, with the user being able to interact with each pane independently. Fragments can be added, removed, replaced, and animated inside an Activity dynamically, and they are modular and reusable across multiple Activities. Because they are modular, Fragments also offer an efficient way for developers to write applications that can run properly on both larger screen as well as smaller screen devices.

Until we see Honeycomb on the smaller tablet — the model shown off last month at Mobile World Congress ran Froyo — we won’t know how well this approach works. My biggest concern revolves around the core apps that make good use of larger displays: Using Gmail on the 10.1-inch Motorola Xoom is a superb experience, but that may not translate to the smaller screen with a lower resolution. Amazon’s U.K. site says the A100 arrives on April 20, so we won’t be waiting long to find out.

One area the A100 could excel in as compared to the larger Xoom is better rendering of existing Android apps. On the Xoom, I found many of the non-Honeycomb apps waste spaced and used small fonts on the bigger screen, making it a mediocre experience. That’s sure to change as developers update their software, but until they do, apps designed for the smartphone could look better on the lower-priced and more portable Iconia A100, even with Honeycomb.

10 Responses to “Acer’s Honeycomb Tablet Priced to Kickstart Sales”

  1. The A100 is hugely interesting with that price tag.

    However, one thing concerns me. The battery is only 1530 mAh, as opposed to the Galaxy Tab’s 4000 mAh.

    What do you all think about that? To me, that makes for real concern, a really big one even.

  2. Here’s my thought. Sure it’s a relatively low price, but what about the keyboard that you would likely need? If you don’t need a keyboard then you have enough money to have a portable laptop also. Therefore this low price means squat to those types of people.

    Here is what don’t get. Android warrants a $400 or $500+ price tag? Really? Seriously? Why? It’s not long there is a long outstanding track record for Android 3.0. Hype anyone?

    Lastly, netbooks are pricing in now <$300 plus you get a keyboard. Why the hell would you buy an unknown OS device for more money when you are likely packing a smartphone to begin with? Explain this. It's stupid in reality. Drop the price to $300 then this might start making sense.

  3. Well, based on my experience with the Honeycomb on the Nook Color (based on the code taken from the emulator or Motorola Xoom I assume) it should work quite fine. It has only the normal email client, not the GMail version, but as far as I know, these two are almost the same …

    In landscape, it works completely fine. The view with folders + emails as well as the view with emails+email detail. The text size in the email detail can be adjusted.

    In portrait, the 1024×600 resolution is not wide enough for the folders+emails view – I would prefer another solution here (i.e. 3 different views … folders, emails, and email detail). In the email detail view, you see only the email it self, so the list of other email isn’t blocking the display.

    In all modes, I’m missing the possibility to resize the fragments. That would be a great feature (However, I believe this is not possible even on the Xoom)

    Of course, the proper Honeycomb build for Acer A100 may be different. But I would assume/hope, that it can get only better.

  4. I would love to see the HTC Flyer sell for $349.99. I really like the 7″ screen for portability. I use my Galaxy Tab daily, and now I have replaced my 1G iPad with a iPad 2. That I only use at the office or at home. I even use my Tab more at home quick email checking and quick short websites. I really don’t use my Atrix for those things, unless I don’t have my SGT. :)

  5. RicLock

    it would almost have to come in around $350 – $400 because the Galaxytab was just marked down to around the same, the big difference is Acer has Tegra 2 & HC.

    this bezel design makes this look like a landscape device over portrait, which seems too go along with how HC was designed anyways. so 7″ might make a great form since the 10″ tablets used in landscape seem a bit burdensome.

      • Lucian Armasu

        Because European prices are generally ~30% higher than American ones from what I’ve noticed. At the very least dollars translate to euros here, so for example, a $500 device in USA is 500 euro or more in Europe.