New Tablets Skew Toward Low, High Ends

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LAS VEGAS – Entry-level Android tablets at $179 and less proliferated at International CES from existing suppliers and such newcomers as Voxx Electronics and Southern Telecom’s Smartab brand.

Top-tier models also proliferated, thanks to a broad Samsung launch that included two 12.2-inch tablets, a 10.1-inch model and an 8.4-inch model, all with the latest Android OS called KitKat 4.4, all with WQXGA 2,560 by 1,600 displays, and all with preloaded productivity software and services such as Bitcasa Cloud storage, Cisco WebEx Meetings and Remote PC for limited time periods.

They will be available in Wi- Fi, 3G and 4G LTE versions for different markets around the world. Shipments start in the first quarter. Pricing wasn’t revealed.

A combination of 12.2-inch WQXGA display, 3GB RAM, and productivity apps and services will turn the 12.2-inch tablets into “an ideal platform for every type of content creation and consumption,” the company said. Those two models sport the world’s first 12.2-inch WQXGA 2,560 by 1,600 widescreen (16:10) display, the company added.

At the other extreme, new low-priced models started at a suggested $79 from Naxa, $99 from E Fun and $149 from Asus.

The entry-tier segment also saw the latest version of Android, 4.4, migrate down to the $129 price point with a 7-inch model from Polaroid and a $149 7-inch model from Vivitar.

Companies launching low-price models included Techno Source and KD Interactive under the Kurio brand, MeeBox, Naxa, E Fun, Polaroid, Tarantula, Vivitar and YiFang Digital (see TWICE, Jan. 7). Other companies that recently entered the market include Monster and E&S International Enterprises, which licensed Pioneer name for a $99 7-inch tablet.

Here’s what dealers found from select companies:

Acer America unveiled its latest Intel-based Android 4.2.1 tablet, the Iconia A1-830, available in the first quarter starting at a suggested $149. For that price, consumers get 7.9-inch 4:3 LED-backlit IPS display, 1,024 by 768 screen resolution, multicore 1.6GHz Atom processor, 16GB storage, 32GB MicroSD slot, aluminum back cover for durability, 7.5-hour battery life, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi- Fi 802.11b/g/n, stereo speakers and a bezel that measures only 0.32 inches.

The main camera captures HD video with 2,560 by 1920 resolution, and the front camera captures 720p 1,700 by 1,200 video.

Accessories include a slim synthetic-leather Bluetooth keyboard.

Alcatel One Touch launched two tablets at International CES, positioning the Pop 7 and Pop 8 as the world’s thinnest and lightest 7- and 8-inch tablets in the entry-level segment. The Pop 8 is also promoted as the first 8-inch tablet with what the company called an edge-to-edge screen, thanks to a 4.9mm (0.2-inch) bezel.

The Pop 7 weighs 10.1 ounces, measures 8.9mm in thickness, and features 1.3GHz Cortex A7 dual-core processor and Android 4.2 OS. A VGA megapixel front-facing camera is complemented by a 2-megapixel rear camera with 1080p video capture.

It will be available in white glossy and black softtouch colors and with MagicFlip slim magnetic cover option in red and light blue.

The POP 7 will be available in the first quarter in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at 129 euro for the 3G/Wi-Fi version. A 4G LTE/Wi-Fi version is planned for the second quarter. U.S. availability and pricing wasn’t announced.

The POP 8 features an edge-to-edge touchscreen design with 4.9mm bezel on the left and right sides when the device is held in portrait mode. It weighs 11.5 ounces and measures 7.9mm in thickness. It also features HD IPS 1280x800 display, Android 4.2 OS, 1.3GHz quad-core processor, VGA front camera, and 2-megapixel rear camera with 1080p capture. It’s also available in white glossy finish and full black soft-touch finish.

POP 8 ships in the EMEA markets in the first quarter with 3G and Wi-Fi. A 4G LTE versions is planned for the second quarter.

Samsung’s LTE versions of all four new models will feature Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.3 GHz quadcore processor, while Wi-Fi and 3G versions will feature 1.9GHz and 1.3GHz quad-core processors, respectively.

The 12.2-inch models will feature 3GB RAM, and the other two will come with 2GB RAM. The top two models will feature Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with MIMO, and the other two will offer the same Wi-Fi bands with channel bonding.

The two 12.2 models are the Galaxy NotePro 12.2, which comes with S Pen stylus and pen-optimized apps, and the TabPro, which doesn’t use an S Pen. Both feature Multi Window function to spilt the screen into four segments to display different apps.

Those two also feature 32GB or 64GB internal memory plus 64GB MicroSD slot. The other two feature choice of 16GB or 32GB embedded memory with 64GB MicroSD slot.

Southern Telecom unveiled the $179 Smartab 9i, an 8.9-inch Android 4.4 model with 1,920 by 1,200 HD IPS display, 2GB RAM, quad-core processor, 16GB storage, memory-card slot, HDMI, front stereo speakers, Bluetooth, 5-megapixel main camera, front HD camera and access to the Google Play store.

Voxx Electronics, formerly Audiovox, unveiled its first three tablets, one designed expressly for in-vehicle installation.

That tablet is the $299-suggested Rear Seat Entertainment In-Vehicle Tablet Solution, which ships in March. The Audiovox- brand system consists of an 8-inch Android tablet that docks into the back of an included headrest. The tablet charges while docked, and the dock transmits tablet audio to a car audio system via wireless FM. Audio can also be played through IR-enabled headphones.

Two other Audiovox-branded tablets designed for traditional on-the-go use are the $159 T752 and $219 T852 Android tablets, shipping in February. The 7- and 8-inch Google-certified Android 4.1 tablets are targeted to consumers wanting “feature-packed systems at an affordable price,” said Voxx Electronics president Tom Malone.

The tablets feature five-point capacitive touchscreen, front-facing speakers, dual front and rear cameras, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, MicroSD slot, HDMI output and Wi-Fi. The T852 adds Bluetooth and 1,064 by 768 IPS display.

In a related launch, the company unveiled its first universal in-vehicle tablet-mounting system, which holds and charges Androids tablets as well as iPads. The company already offers a mounting system just for iPads. The new model, which clamps onto any vehicle headrest with posts, will retail for a suggested $99 when it ships in March.

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