Leader International Impression 10a

Budget tablet maker Leader International will launch two new Android 4.0 tablets to market during the first quarter of the year. The Impression 10A tablet has a 9.7 inch, 1024 x 768 pixel display and NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core processor and a price tag of $299, while the Impression 7A has a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display and a 1 GHz processor. It will sell for $179.

Both tablets will ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Adobe Flash Player 10.3. They also both have capacitive touchscreen displays.

It wasn’t that long ago that you wouldn’t find most of those features in a tablet that cost less than $400. But Google has released the source code for Android 4.0 which allows tablet and phone makers to put the operating system on all sorts of devices. NVIDIA is also moving forward with its next-generation Tegra 3 quad-core processor, so I suspect Tegra 2 chips might be getting cheaper for device builders.

It’s an interesting time in the tablet space, and I suspect we’ll continue to see high-end premium products hit the market. But I think the performance/feature gap between high-end and low-end tablets will get smaller as well.

When the iPad and Android tablets started hitting the streets, a lot of people wanted to compare them to netbooks. After all, they were both affordable portable devices that you could use to surf the web or perform other tasks on the go. But today’s tablets are really a whole new class of device that’s difficult to compare with anything that came before (yes, there were PC tablets before, but they were expensive, powerful, and typically got lousy battery life).

Netbooks, on the other hand, were basically notebooks. They were just cheaper, smaller, and lighter than most of the notebooks that had come before. That’s largely because the first netbooks used older technology that could be picked up at low prices and slapped together to make an inexpensive computer.

In 2012 we’re starting to see the same trend in tablets. By slapping together some slightly older parts and throwing on some open source software, smaller companies like Leader International are releasing tablets that look a lot like last year’s top-of-the-line products from big-name computer companies… but for much lower prices.

On the other hand, I haven’t had a chance to actually play with the new Impression 10A and Impression 7A tablets yet, so I can’t make any promises about their build quality or performance. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to check them out in person at CES next week.

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12 replies on “Leader International unveils cheap Android 4.0 tablets”

  1. 179 for a Tegra 2 with capacitive screen, even if it’s 7 inches, is really tempting. Hell, that’s less than the Kindle Fire with comparable specs.

    I guess I’ll buy a tablet when they hit the magical 99 price.

    1. The Tegra 2 model is $299. The $179 model has an unnamed 1 GHz CPU… but $299 is still a pretty good price for a Tegra 2 system. 

  2. I’m very fascinated by how these devices are affecting media, especially books.  The battle over music is for intents and purposes is over.  Books are the next frontier. In the past ten years, we’ve all heard stories of book readership in the U.S. dropping dramatically, and the corruption of the written language … thank you Twitter and texting.   However, considering the previous poster’s comments, “Tablets are essentially media consumption devices.” Consider how Kindle and other devices are spawning so many new reader websites – https://lendle.me, https://99cent-books.com, etc – and making self-publishing much easier – over 1 million books published per year – anyone can publish.  Supply of books plus tech advances = lower prices. Do you think this trend in readership will reverse, especially given how cheap books are becoming?  Do you think these devices are enough to make the tides change?  Or, do you think our attention spans are permanently damaged and can only absorb info at 140 character increments :o)

  3. Tablets are essentially media consumption devices — the media being movies, TV, video, books, magazines, web sites, newspapers, comics, and games, etc. They can also be pressed into service for email, texting, tweeting, and other light keyboard action, but if you’re going to be doing more of that then a netbook is more your thing.

    1. Too bad that convertible netbooks never took off beyond some designs from Gigabyte. Could have something to do with weight, and that XP for netbooks did not support touch screens in any sane way (never mind the basic issues of using a desktop UI via a touch screen). Something like the original EEEPC with a extra hinge to allow the screen to point outwards while closed would have made for a interesting device. This especially with the custom Linux UI they used, and the use of a light weight SSD rather than a HDD.

  4. Precisely!

    The tablet is a really nice form factor, and superior to any other for many uses. But many of these uses are rather mundane, reading ebooks and comics/manga, video, light browsing etc. As a result the new “mid to low end” (i.e. last year’s high end) is more than enough. This is a much faster  transition to “good enough” than the PC or the laptop.
    The really interesting relation to the netbook is that the netbook was the one of the first really intensive efforts to shift from raw performance to cost and weigh as the main selling point.
    What is really going to be interesting is when the tablet hits the impulse buy level, and multiple tablets are the norm. When tablets start closely interaction in a ubiquitous fashion is when things will really get interesting.  

    1. Yep, unfortunately your theory (and mine) might be undermined as companies like Dell give up on netbooks and push higher end laptops and ultrabook.

      1. I believe the market research shows most people were buying netbooks as their second portable machine. As such I suspect many of them were being used for the types of things that tablets are no being used for — lightweight portable devices for watching video, reading books, surfing, and the occasional email. It would make sense that tablets are squeezing the netbook market as people are spending their money on iPads, Kindle Fires, and Nook Tablets instead.

        Netbooks are probably also being squeezed at the top end by cheap laptops — $300 can get you a full-blown 15-inch laptop these days — and the advent of the cheap ultraportable — e.g. the $400 Thinkpad x120e.

        I have an x100e, and while the battery life is not great, it’s much more capable than a netbook is, yet is not much bigger or heavier. I bought it as a second machine for traveling with, but I have been using it as my main laptop for the last year.

        1. Part of it has to do with how little the netbooks have changed since they first came out. 

          Intel basically had the ATOM on a 5 year product cycle instead of the normal 2 that they put their other products under.

          So advancements have been very slow and like you suggested netbooks are no long the only product in its usage category range anymore.

          However, all that’s going to change in 2013 when Intel comes out with the 22nm Silvermont update and officially puts the ATOM on the same 2 year product cycle as their high end chips.

          The only real question is what state the netbook market will be in by 2013.  Since it may be we may either find a alternative device category by then to fulfill the role of netbooks or netbooks may evolve a bit from what we think of them now.

          For example, it’s possible netbooks and tablets may just merge into something like the Asus Transformer but the dock would be the actual netbook and docking transforms it into a x86 computer.

          It would for example solve any issues with running legacy software and still keep all the benefits of both.

          Alternatively, netbooks may take on the role previously held by UMPC’s for pocket-able computers or they may just expend netbooks into that category.

          1. Intel and MS basically choked all creativity out of netbooks by demanding certain upper specs. MS in particular, as they set a max screen resolution and such on the XP netbook license. End result was that all netbooks became cookie cutter computers with small external design variations. And as they could serve as Citrix terminals and such, the big names may have held back for fear that businesses may replace a number of their ultraportables with netbooks.

          2. Yes, that is how they started because they weren’t ready and Intel didn’t want netbooks to effect the profit margins of their higher end products.  While MS wanted the leverage to keep the competition at bay.

            However, keep in mind part of the reason netbooks became so cheap was because of those strict limitations, which was also part of the reason for the 5 year product cycle as that meant all technology used was well vetted and sure to work.

            But the market is changing and both Intel and MS want to get into the mobile market now, which means they can no longer restrict netbooks.  At best they can just push for mobile products like tablets, which provide higher profit margins than netbooks but people will continue to demand low cost solutions and that means netbooks will continue whether they like it or not.

            Mind we’re already seeing a relaxing of the restrictions.  Max support RAM for some of the new Cedar Trail models goes up to 4GB instead of just 2GB, the new GMA supports HDMI, the switching to the 2 year product cycle with the upcoming Silvermont update, and even Windows 8 Metro requiring higher resolution are all examples of the coming changes.

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