Three keys for iPad rivals: price, price, and price

iPad rivals have better processors, more RAM, and additional features the Apple tablet lacks

Perhaps you've seen that a number of major vendors announced plans to introduce a tablet PC of some sort at CES. No, the 2011 CES. Yes, you are correct that those same vendors announced tablet plans at last year's CES and nothing ever materialised, but this year they're serious. Many of the specs and capabilities are superior to what the Apple iPad has to offer, unfortunately they all seem to fail at the only spec that matter: price.

The Motorola Xoom is apparently imminent, and the HP TouchPad and BlackBerry PlayBook are expected soon--among a plethora of other options. Samsung is getting ready to roll out its second-generation Galaxy Tab. Many of these tablet competitors have dual-core processors and four times the RAM of the iPad. They also have front and rear-facing cameras, and USB ports, and SD memory card slots for expandable storage, and they play nice with Adobe Flash. All nice features, but all overshadowed by the fact that these tablets all cost as much or more than the iPad.

Why is price the most important? Well, the economy has seen better days and consumers and companies are all a bit more hyper-focused on saving a buck. Tablets are still a fairly nascent market struggling to establish itself somewhere between ereaders and laptops. The tablet can replace a netbook or notebook as a primary mobile computing device in many cases, but it becomes a much harder sell if the tablet costs more than the notebook it's replacing.

But, the real reason that price is such an issue is the aura Apple has created for itself. The fabled Apple reality distortion field inflates the perceived value of Apple gadgets. There is a wide variety of digital music playing devices out there. Some of them--such as Microsoft's Zune--are considered by many to be technically superior to Apple's iPod lineup, but they have to undercut Apple's prices to have a chance at competing.

The 16GB Samsung Galaxy Tab sells for $500--but it is smaller than the iPad and runs an Android OS that isn't meant for tablets. The BlackBerry PlayBook is expected to be available for $500 for the 16GB version. There is no official price for the Motorola Xoom, but leaks and rumors have suggested it will be $800, and a page live this past weekend on the Best Buy Web site showed the price of the Motorola tablet to be a mind-numbing $1200.

AT the $500 price range, iPad competitors are at least on par with the entry-level price of the 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad. The additional features (Adobe Flash, cameras, SD memory, etc.) mean you are getting more bang for your buck, but there is still that Apple distortion field to contend with--making these rival tablets seem overpriced.

Soon, Apple will announce details of the second generation iPad. If iPod and iPhone history are any indication, Apple does not generally bump the price up. Assuming the iPad 2 has at least a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and front and rear facing cameras, it will have caught up to competing tablets that are just launching. If Apple launches the iPad 2 in spring as predicted, and surpasses those expectations and raises the bar--even a little bit--tablets like the TouchPad, Galaxy Tab 10.1, and PlayBook will be obsolete before they're even available.

When it comes to tablets in general, price is a crucial factor for distinguishing the device from netbooks and notebooks. When it comes to competing with the iPad, there are three things that will make the difference: price, price, and price.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MotorolatabletsApplehardware systemstablet PCslaptopsapple ipadtablet PC

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?