Back in April of 2010, when Apple’s iPad was first released, the industry response was somewhat tepid. Although Apple’s competitors regarded this new contraption higher than its spiritual predecessor (Microsoft’s eponymous ‘Tablet PC’ from the early 2000’s), they still weren’t sure about it.
Many pundits predicted doom for Steve Jobs and co, but even amongst the uncertainty, early adopters were hard at work reverse engineering the iPad or rapidly enhancing existing smartphone designs.
Soon, a major new market had emerged. It was big, it was clever and it was thriving. Inevitably, smaller companies wanted to get in on the action and it wasn’t long before a new range of Cheap Tablet PC models permeated the formerly exclusive sales charts. These ‘affordable’ models were, well, to be polite, a big giant load of arse. Cobbled together from cheap plastics, faulty circuitry and seemingly ready-scratched screens, these listless lumps of plastic were unresponsive, unreliable and clearly held together by happy thoughts and string.
For a while at least, it seemed as if the Cheap Tablet PC was little more than an oasis in the desert. The very idea that you could get a decent quality machine for less than top dollar amused some developers and offended others. However, tablet PCs have proved to be a great leveller and this is demonstrated by the sheer amount of manufacturers and models there are right now. In reality, it was only a matter of time before a viable and Tablet PC that actually resembled value for money was developed.
Last year saw a slew of tablet PCs (priced at just under or just over the £100 mark) that were well made, reliable and relatively high spec. Tablets like the CloudNine Neuropad, the Onda Vi40 and the NATPC M1OS came with features like the latest Android OS, Multi Touch screens, full HDMI output and SD-compatible memory. In addition to that, the new generation of Cheap Tablet PC stars boasted an attention to detail and careful design that, at times, was downright impressive. In 2012, tablets made with cheaper materials smacked of ‘making the best of it’ instead of simply ‘making a few bucks’. This was a good thing.
At the dawn of 2013, we can only hope that the Cheap Tablet PC revolution continues to pick up speed, as the newest batch of Windows 8 models are commanding prices that make the iPad look cheap. Basically, as the tech comes down in price, more and more new developers will enter the fray. As tablets become more prevalent, so, then, will a need for cheaper tablets increase.
Apple have demonstrated their commitment to the 7” format with last year’s ‘iPad Mini’…Let’s hope that the next Apple innovation will be a reduction in price as well as size.
iPad Nano anyone?