Tablet PC Price Wars

By Cindy Waxer November 10, 2010

Look out, iPad. According to a Bloomberg report, Research In Motion Ltd., plans to begin selling its BlackBerry PlayBook for less than $500, undercutting Apple, Inc.’s iPad.

RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told Bloomberg that the PlayBook will go on sale in North America starting in the first quarter of 2011. The PlayBook is RIM’s business-friendly answer to Apple’s consumer-centric iPad, and boasts a seven-inch touchscreen, dual high-definition cameras for video capture and video conferencing, measures less than half an inch thick, weighs less than a pound for ultra-portability and has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. 

With the tablet market set to skyrocket – IDC predicts worldwide media tablet shipments will grow from 7.6 million units in 2010 to more than 46 million units in 2014, it’s no wonder price wars among tablet manufacturers are being waged.

But not all manufacturers are resorting to bottom-basement price points. Given its business-friendly specifications, the HP Slate 500 is the PlayBook’s closest rival and is a Windows 7-based tablet with a 8.9-inch, 1024×600 resolution screen, a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 processor, a Crystal HD accelerator for HD video playback, two gigabytes of RAM, and a 64GB SSD.

Priced at $799, the HP Slate 500 is more expensive than both the iPad and the PlayBook. That said, HP doesn’t appear to have its eye on the average consumer anyway. Rather, as the company’s website states, the device is intended for “professionals who don’t usually work at a traditional desk, yet need to stay productive in a secure, familiar Windows environment.”

And then there’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is half the size of the iPad and priced at $600 – more expensive than the cheapest Apple tablet. Samsung and U.S. wireless carrier Verizon announced that the Galaxy Tab will go on sale in the United States on Nov. 11, and that Verizon Wireless will be offering a monthly Internet access plan for the Galaxy Tab beginning at $20 a month for one-gigabyte of data.

RIM’s PlayBook is set to release the device in early 2011, with an international rollout later in the year.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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