Sep. 7, 2011 at 8:00 AM ET
Lenovo just announced its 7-inch IdeaPad Tablet A1 at a very attractive starting price of $199. Now that prices are dropping below $200 for capacitive touchscreen Android tablets, they become quite an interesting alternative to the netbook — and the iPad.
No one really needs a tablet, but I have to say that everyone in my family enjoys our iPad and the various Android tablets that have come through our home over the last year.
We use our tablets to browse the Web, check email, watch Netflix movies, play games and video chat with family and friends — all the reasons we bought a netbook for our daughter a couple of years ago.
I specifically mention the "capacitive" touchscreens on these tablets because that’s the speedy, light-touch technology we’ve come to expect from our smartphones, and from the iPad. "Resistive" touchscreen tablets have been available for a while, but are more sluggish and require a firm touch.
With this in mind, there are two tablets to consider in the sub-$200 range: the Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet A1 ($199) and the Coby Kyros MID7022-4G ($179 on BestBuy.com). Both run Android 2.3 Gingerbread, are about half an inch thick, weigh about 14 ounces, have front-facing 0.3MP cameras for video chat, a microSD slot for expanded storage and run on 1Ghz Cortex A8 single-core processors.
The Coby Kyros MID7022-4G comes in black and has 4GB of onboard memory and an 800 x 480 7-inch display. The Lenovo IdeaPad A1 has a nicer 1024 x 600 7-inch display and will come in black, white, blue and pink. The entry-level $199 model will have just 2GB of internal storage.
For a slightly better option that still relatively low cost, check out the Acer Iconia Tab A100 ($326 on Amazon.com). It runs the latest Android tablet OS, Android 3.0 Honeycomb and has 8GB of onboard storage, a 1024 x 600 7-inch display, a front-facing 2MP camera, a rear-facing 5MP camera, a 1Ghz Tegra 2 dual-core processor, a microUSB slot and comes in black.
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