Next week Apple is expected to unveil a second generation iPad. But while the first iPad took the world by storm last year as one of the only tablets of its type, the iPad 2 will enter a somewhat more crowded market. It won’t just have to compete with Apple’s first tablet for your attention, but also the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola XOOM, Dell Streak 7, and a whole slew of upcoming tablets from major PC and smartphone companies as well as a crop of budget tablets with simpler features but much lower price tags.

But the truth of the matter is that none of those other tablets has had the kind of impact that the iPad has. Apple sold almost 15 million iPads in eight months last year. That’s partly because nobody builds buzz like Apple and partly because the iPad was truly a revolutionary product: a thin and light tablet with extraordinarily long battery life and a simple, easy-to-use interface. Sure, you can argue that it’s just an oversized iPod touch, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Another key to Apple’s success with the iPad? The price. Starting at $499, the iPad isn’t exactly an impulse buy. But it’s also less than half the price of a MacBook and cheaper than an unlocked iPhone.

What’s surprising is that in the past year, few companies have been able to successfully compete with Apple on both price and features. Companies such as Archos have put out tablets that are much cheaper than the iPad, but they lack many of its features such as the aluminum frame, 3G option, and access to a full app store. A new crop of tablets from Motorola, Samsung, Dell, and others actually look much better than the original iPad on paper, thanks to dual core processors, cameras, and the new Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system which is designed specifically for tablets. But these machines are expensive.

The XOOM goes for nearly $800. The first generation Samsung Galaxy Tab costs at least $499.99 unless you sign up for a mobile broadband contract. And the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 is expected to cost more than $900 when it’s launched in Europe next month.



Meanwhile Research in Motion reportedly hopes to offer the BlackBerry PlayBook for around $500 and final pricing hasn’t been set for the HP TouchPad yet.

It doesn’t look like any of the biggest players expect to seriously undercut the iPad on price. Instead they’re hoping to compete with extra features. That may be due to the actual costs of producing thin, light, powerful tablets with decent battery life. Or it may be that the HPs, Dells, RIMs, and Samsungs of the world don’t want a repeat of the netbook price wars where everyone raced to the bottom in order to sell more units and reduced profit margins in the process.

It’s good to see that companies like Archos are continuing to crank out budget tablets so that users who are looking for something in the sub-$200 range will still have options, even if they won’t have all the features that come with pricier devices. And the $249 Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor has proved very popular with hackers who are willing to buy the eBook reader and tweak the software to turn it into a general purpose tablet.

But I have to wonder whether there’s really any serious demand for a wide range high performance features and high price tags or if Apple has already pretty much conquered that market.

If you’re thinking of buying a tablet, or have already spent money on one, how much do you think is the right price?

Of course, the question is sort of tricky. A $200 tablet isn’t likely to have all the features you’d find in an $800 model. Good luck finding a budget tablet with a high resolution screen, GPS or 3G sensors, HD video recording capabilities, or a dual core processor. But even the cheapest tablets today are good enough for surfing the web, reading eBooks, watching movies, and running at least some third party apps including games.

And for the purposes of this poll, I’m primarily talking about the new generation of ARM-based consumer tablets rather than beefier machines with x86 processors which run Windows — although the lines between the tablets of yore and today’s models are growing slimmer all the time.

What I’m trying to get a sense of is how much you think tablets are worth. If a netbook is worth around $200 to $500 and  smartphone runs around $0 to $600 depending on whether you buy it on-contract or not, how much do you think this new class of device should cost?

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33 replies on “How much are you willing to pay for a tablet?”

  1. Give me a device that I can pay a reasonable price for the original manufacturer and very little for the middlemen (either a data connection provider or the application market provider). I have full control on what I want to do with the device and is playing nice with open software.

    I have all of it with NI ADAM and I love it. There may be a few hiccups on the way but its worth it if what you need is the above.

    XOOM has a similar potentieal but will they be less pricey and not wedded to a data service provider and be open to consumer loading whatever they wish ? Only time can tell. Will it succeeed ? reasonably.

    Bottomline, its not just the price.. a little more on top of the price you pay 🙂

  2. The limit must be $200.00. I just bought a Color Nook on a coupon deal for two bills. No shipping charges.

  3. There is also too cheap. I bought the Augen GenTouch 78 when it first came out. I had lots of problems with it. It was about $149. I am hoping the newer little higher priced Augen GenTouch 78 is better.

  4. It’s just a movie / multi-media gadget, DVD players cost lot less so having a mobile mumtimedia gizmo shouldn’t cost a lot.

    Push come to shove, just but a full-power netbook to have both a mobile computer and the side app of multimedia in 1.

  5. I know new shiny carries a premium until the market saturates but jeeze.

    A tablet has a SoC, 256M-1G RAM and a screen that tends to max out in netbook territory only with a touchscreen. The good ones get an tilt and motion sensor. If sold with a dataplan they come with 3G and usually GPS at a subsidized price. A netbook gets a more expensive x86 CPU + chipset, a bigger battery, a keyboard and pays the Microsoft Tax. And if sold with a dataplan come with 3G and GPS and a subsidized price.

    So tablets that cost more than a midrange netbook are just racking up margin until the supply ramps up. Or are Apple who always sell at a premium because they are selling the brand experience more than the product.

    An Acer Aspire or ASUS EeePC with better compute power than any tablet that has yet shipped cn be had for somewhere in the $300 +/- $50 range. The hardware added to a tablet being less expensive than the things replaced means pretty soon we should have good tablets in the $200-$250 range, less if sold with a data plan. Very usable tablets will settle into the $125-$175 range for Xmas 2011.

    All assuming economies of scale actually kick in. After the early adopters there might not actually be a mass market waiting. There was a huge pent up demand waiting for the netbook revolution but many have tried and failed in the tablet space and there just might not be much demand outside the RDF.

  6. I have an under $300 netbook that I use all of the time – mostly plugged into a big monitor with external keyboard. Its easy to grab and go mobile, but I still like the idea of a touch screen tablet. Since a tablet can’t do everything the netbook can, I wouldn’t pay more for a device that does less. Although, if the Asus Transformer could come in at $400 I may spend the extra $100 because you can get up to 16 hours of use while plugged into its keyboard.

  7. Lets not forget Chrome OS. If it works in a notebook and they merge Android and Chrome OS as reported then we should get a whole new merged class at a reasonable price with bokos of features and Apps.

  8. I’ll just say Motorola needs to cut a few hundred dollars off the price of XOOM and leave it at that…

  9. Last year I spent $600 on a Lenovo ideapad S10-3T (netvertible? Tablet pc?) for my business (I’m a home inspector) because it was a portable little device with plenty of power for a netbook and a touch screen that would allow me to do my reports, on-site more easily than with a WinMo PPC. It has served its purpose well, however, I recently got an Archos 70 for $275 that is lighter and faster than my little Lenovo. I got it for personal use but have since started using it for work. All my reports are custom excel spreadsheets so I just bought Documents to Go for $15 and use that for my report writing. The Archos doesn’t have all the features of a Windows netbook but from my experience, most of those “features” just slow down my machine anyway. They don’t really belong on a netbook (read: Windows in its current form is too heavy for netbooks.)

    How much would I pay for an Android tablet that does everything I need it to do without the extra bloat of Windows’ “features” bogging it down? I’d easily pay as much as I did for my Lenovo ($600.)

    Everyone wants to compare these things to Windows devices, whether it be netbooks or laptops or x86 tablet PCs but that’s the wrong way of looking at it. You might as well say a sports car isn’t worth as much as a pickup truck because it can’t haul as much material to a job site. One is for work and you can play with it, the other is for play and some (such as me) can take it to work. If you insist on making faulty comparisons then I say you paid too much for your suit jacket because it won’t protect you in a motorcycle wreck as well as my leather will.

    1. You have an intelligent take on this. It’s interesting. I think what you’re agreeing with is that tablets, of the higher end, are going to be useful in a work setting. Mainstream? Not so much. Stylus input added into your tablet and I’m pretty sure that suits (no pun intended) a lot of the business market. With that said, the business market amounts to squat overall.

  10. Thanks for doing the poll, Brad. Apple set the bar last year. So anyone who comes in at a higher price point is just giving Apple more market share.

    The cellphone companies who are getting in now who think tablets should be sold just like cellphones with two-year contracts are playing a loser’s game.

    And where the Wi-Fi only models?

    1. I agree about ‘where (are) the wi-fi only models’. They have ebook reader with just wifi, why not tablet pc’s? IMO; having just wi-fi would lower the price the way the wi-fi only ebook readers are lower in price in than the 3g ebook readers.

  11. What’s the appropriate price for a computer with similar specs to a netbook, but less hardware (less case, less drive, no keyboard, limited in/out, probably an inferior operating system), and a simple operating system? Probably a bit less than a netbook. I put under $200, because my netbook is fine and will do more.

    1. I thought about putting in an “I wouldn’t buy a tablet at any price” option, but then I figured that’s not really the point of this exercise. What I’m interested in discovering is how much people who want tablets think they’re worth.

      400 some votes in, I’m surprised but not shocked at the results.

      I suspect things would have looked quite different if there was a none of the above option, because people who don’t care about tablets at all would have weighed in.

  12. This is an interesting take on the Ipad’s price:

    https://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/02/ipad-price/

    After spending some time with the Xoom in the store I have to admit though I really like it and what it could do for me, the price is a bridge too far. Since I am not interested in another data plan, the wifi version is for me, but even at $600 it is really priced high. I am not sure it is enough of a leap over the browsing experience of my Moto Droid – particularly given that the HoneyComb browser identifies itself as a mobile browser so you get the mobile versions of web pages (they need to fix that).

    Perhaps some competition from Samsung and others will bring the price of these tablets down a bit…

    Also, here is the best review for the Xoom I have read:

    https://www.anandtech.com/show/4191/motorola-xoom-review-first-honeycomb-tablet-arrives

  13. Obelix would say: “$800 for a tablet? these Romans are crazy”

  14. I would be willing to pay $200 or less. The big deal about the iPad 2 is? Price. Just watch. They will make a huge price reduction futher making the competition look like clowns once again. I don’t own any Apple but they are pwning everyone on tablets. The iPad 2 will make a mockery of these Xoom’s based on price. My prediction. Take it to the bank.

    On a side note, did you give up trying to center that polldaddy poll? Those are a bugger. Try putting in a and see what happens. They are a real beotch for some reason.

  15. Decent Android tablets can be found for a wide range of prices.

    Nook Color for $250 — flash the ROM or load honeycomb form the SD and you have a nice inexpensive tablet though, you don’t have two cameras, gps, etc. . .

    There are a few tablets, unforgeable still running Android 2.x, for ~$400 or below that have specs close to the Xoom.

    After looking at a wide range of devices and the different specs for each a high end device comparable to the Xoom will be around $500 for WiFi. Adding 3G or 4G will drive that price up considerably due to the carriers.

    Of course low spec devices are much cheaper.

    We can’t really compare prices of netbooks Vs tablets. The hardware is significantly different. Therefore, it becomes about what you as the user need/want and which one will do the job for you.

    Considering Asus stated that their Transformer tablet will come in at around $400 to $500 and it will replace a netbook and can be used as a tablet, with modern mobile hardware, that’s fairly reasonable and I’m sure will come down over the next couple years.

  16. I would not pay more than the price of a fully functional laptop/desktop for watered down tech toy.

    1. I agree, but “fully functional laptops” can range from $300-$2400. I’d amend that to say, “a laptop with similar specs.”

      Since the size of tablets forces them (for now) to be hobbled with mediocre speed and capabilities, $400 is a little high, and $300 not too bad, given the size advantages — assuming that’s important to you.

    1. limitedgoods.com is a u s site….if jedibeeftrix is u k based the lenovo quoted is without delivery and what with vat, customs, voltage adapter,”funny”warranty real price could be +40%; and a whopping headache if anything went wrong…..suggest put desired lenovo specification into their u k website

  17. It all depends…..
    If the tablet can replace a device I am willing to pay up to the cost of that device.
    I am looking for a tablet to replace my ultra-light notebook and be usable like my kindle. As a replacement for my UL would run me upwards of a $1000US, that is the amount I would be willing to pay.

    Different folks, different needs……

  18. I pre-ordered a Notion Ink Adam based largely on its balance of features vs. price. Sure, it might not have the highest resolution screen out there, but for $500, I get all of what the iPad 1 has (save iOS) and more. Seems like a reasonable deal to me.

  19. What I like about tablets, though I don’t own one yet and might not dependeing on their capabilities, is that you don’t have to take them out of your carry on luggage when going through airports–good time and labor savings for road warriors.

  20. Netbooks, priced at $300 and below are going to make a big comeback when people realise they have been fools to pay $800 (eg Xoom) for a device merely to surf the web. Only an idiot would pay that much in today’s world when prices of devices to surf the net are so cheap

    1. I just hotrodded my 8.9″ netbook last week (5-hour battery, maxed the memory and added a 500gig drive). It’s now running almost as fast as my older, overloaded Vista laptop (Chrome is a blessing on it), weighs less, and cost me less than half what the laptop did. I’ve been running Photoshop on it since I got it, and it’s speeded up on that with the additional memory to the point where I’m not impatient any more. Probably the next “laptop” is going to be a 10″ netbook for me.

    2. I agree with you 100%. Price point is what will kill off the tablet invasion. Once the cannibalization begins, it’s over. Then it’s back to ereaders and the iPad. Really, netbooks starting at $300 or ereaders which will turn into color which will still maintain their cheap price point. Last time I looked the US economy was in the tank. Good luck moving the $700 tablets. There is only room enough for one Apple as these jokers are about to find out. Didn’t they pay attention to the Samsung Galaxy Tab experiment?

      1. 100% correct. Majority or the masses are particular about price. Only a handful are techie enthusiast who are willing to spend more on gadgets. Mind you, this group, probably only consist 1% of all tablet buyers.

        So the $800 tablet is going to demise or die soon. There won’t be any volume purchases. Like I said, most people use tablets as their SECONDARY machine. They all have a primary machine at home for CPU intensive tasks. These tablets majority or the masses who buy are merely to surf the net. And you can do that with a $250 netbook.

        Like I said, only a techie geek enthusiast, which most of the time is an idiot anyway, would pay $800 for a device merely to surf the net.

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