Analyst offers cut-price fondleslab recipe
Suggests PC-makers may undercut Apple and Amazon with $US150 'slab
SSA Digital is a little-known Chinese company that is very good at two things.
One is getting spam through the filters here at Vulture South, which is the only reason we know about the second thing at which it excels: making seven inch tablet computers so cheaply it is prepared to sell them for just $US40 apiece in lots of 10,000.
We've smiled nicely and asked SSA to send us one, but it has declined to do so.
PC makers do understand such niceties. They also understand that tablets are eating their lunch, at least at the low end (go visit an electronics store and ask where all the Netbooks have gone).
Which is why Taiwanese analyst outfit TrendForce has cooked up a recipe for a $150 tablet, as it feels that with Android seven-inchers now at $199 the only way PC companies can get into the game is by undercutting the likes of Amazon and Google on price.
To do so, they'll need to cut the following corners:
- Use a cheap display TrendForce says prices for fringe field switching (FFS) displays have plateaued, making twisted nematic displays a cheaper alternative. That technology, however, produces a rubbish viewing angle. Enter 'view angle compensation film' a sheet of polymer that can return a display to respectable visibility at low cost.
- G/F/F touch Premium touch screens us transparent conductors layered onto glass, and use two layers of glass in an arrangement known as “G/G”. A cheaper way to deliver a touch screen is with a G/F/F panel that has a top layer of glass, then two layers of film. G/F/F isn't as responsive as G/G, but costs 70 per cent less to make.
- Cheap memory TrendForce points out that mobile DRAM costs $10 per gigabyte, while conventional DRAM is $3.50. Flash memory is a buck a gig in four-gig lots, or six dollars for an eight-gig module.
- Cheap CPUs A decent CPU sets a tablet-maker back $24, TrendForce says. But comparable silicon can be had for $12.
The analyst's musings conclude that its recipe would allow allow PC-makers to come up with a bill of materials of $99 or less, but also says “Whether the potential low cost tablets will indeed become a major hit remains to be seen, as much of their quality and specs will likely be affected by the costs of the materials used.”
One piece of good news is that TrendForce feels cheap tablets from established brands will “intensify the pricing competition within the 2013 tablet market,” which could be helpful for those wishing the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire were just a little more affordable.
But there's also bad news for SSA Digital and its ilk, as the analyst says that if PC-makers got into the tablet caper it “will certainly put a lot pressure on China's white-box tablet makers.” Which may not be a bad thing: a $150 tablet with an inferior screen, slow CPU and little memory that drains the battery at high speed sounds dire.
SSA's lack of interest in a sending a review unit to Vulture South may therefore have been entirely sensible. ®
Re: sub $100 tablets
Not sure on your "Most of the ones I've seen" there Charles. There are many, many tens of these things out there and it is pretty rare to see Gingerbread on them these days. You are really only looking at a £50 Resistive-screen model. The vast majority are running ICS (4.0.4) at around £60-80 and come with 1.2GHz Single core CPUs and a single Mali 400 GPU with 512MB of RAM. Spend £80-100 and you can easily get Jelly Bean, Dual core CPU, quad-core GPU, 1GB of RAM and a high-res IPS display (1280x800) and some even have aluminium, rather than plastic, cases.
I'm not saying the feel, build quality or UX will be up there with a Nexus 7 but for around £90 you certainly can get a stonkingly good tablet WITH USB Host, HDMI and a MicroSD Slot. There seems to be a lot of crap being spread about the cheapo chinese tablets at the moment. Sure, 18 months ago they were churning out barely functional toys but they have seriously upped their game and it doesn't take much shopping around to save yourself a lot of money compared to a Nexus or Kindle HD.
There are already sub-$100 tablets
Seriously I bought two of them. They are all over the place. There are a lot of models to choose from at that price, but I got the "SuperSonic Matrix SC-72MID". 7" capacitive touchscreen, dual cam, 1.4Ghz processor, Android 4.0 with Google Play. USB, USB OTG cable included, uSDHC. Flash Player. At 4GB the onboard storage is a little light - only 1.7GB to spare out of the box, though this version of Android lets you move most apps to a cheap SD card. 8 or 16GB really should be the minimum though. Touch could be more responsive. Viewing angles and color are ok but not great. Web browsing is fine. $89 each delivered. It could be a little snappier overall.
But for $89? Come on! That's ridiculous already. The cooler thing is that next year is going to be even better. The pace of progress in these mobile devices is simply astounding.
Re: How about
I enjoy how logical and well though out this reply is...
Re: sub $100 tablets
Not necessarily terrible, I saw one the other day that was had for $65 from ebay. One of those anonymous white box Chinese 7" tablets, This one had 512MB memory with a 4GB flash running Ice Cream Sandwich. Played with it for about 15 minutes and was very impressed. Full access to Google apps, and play. Only negative I saw was that it was reluctant to give up physical ownership of the microSD that I plugged in to transfer a couple of apps, required the judicious use of a pair of tweezers. If I was comfortable with the 7" screen I would have bought one, but I prefer 10" (oooer missus!).
Re: sub $100 tablets
I saw some Black Friday specials for 7" Android tablets for $70 a few weeks back. I have no idea of the quality, but I'm sure they were pretty terrible using all the compromises listed in the article.
Terrible for whom? 2 Billion people live on less than $1 a day.