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Making a great cheap Android tablet

Can Ematic, a virtually unknown tablet manufacturer, make a dent in the Android tablet space? Will average consumers even know about the 7-inch tablet?

Will consumers see the eGlide Prism as gimmick or value? Will they see it at all? Ematic

Ematic entered the Android tablet fray yesterday when it announced the inexpensive eGlide Prism.

Priced as low as $157, the device runs Android 4.0 and features a 7-inch 800x480-pixel resolution display. Powered by a 1GHz processor, it also brings 8GB flash memory, 512MB RAM, and a front-facing Webcam. While it's certainly not the type of hardware to contend with a Galaxy Tab 2, it's in that interesting space between a Kindle Fire and a "real" tablet.

I typically cringe when I hear the word "value" associated with mobile tech -- Ematic proudly call themselves a "leader in value tablets" -- since the word conjures images of creaky plastic and poorly lit, low-resolution displays. That's why I'll pass on this model and recommend that others save a few bucks on something else.

Then again...
Over the last year, however, I've noticed that there's a market for people who just want a tablet for Web browsing and social media for when they're at home or for those on-the-go moments. In fact, I've run into a number of friends who've considered buying or have even purchased tablets from unknown and unproven companies. And typically, they're pretty excited to do so.

Fair enough. Indeed, I'm sure that this happens all over the country as consumers don't care to spend $500 for a name-brand device. So should a tablet like the eGlide Prism find its way into bargain bins and outlet stores, I suspect it would see moderate success. And given that the tablet offers a 3D video experience (with glasses), this might be considered a selling point for some.

With its $250 price tag and brand recognition, I'd say that Samsung's forthcoming Galaxy Tab 2.0 7 is a better step in the budget direction. A few months down the road, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sammy touting record sales for it given that it's much more in line with what consumers expect out of a 7-inch tablet.

Consider that the Tab 2.0 7 has more than Amazon's Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet and educated consumers can easily justify the $50 price difference.

So price does matter
Absolutely, Android tablets prices need to continue to drop if Google hopes to replicate the success found with smartphones. Heck, even CEO Larry Page recognizes that Apple has a grip on the upper end of the market. Speaking during the company's recent quarterly earnings, Page indicated that Google would be focusing on the low-cost spectrum.

We definitely believe that there's going to be a lot of success at the lower end of the market as well with lower-priced products that will be very significant. And it's definitely an area we think is important and we're quite focused on."

Is the eGlide Prism ahead of the curve? Not exactly. While interest from the Android community remains high following the company's announcement yesterday, I can't see the tablet sticking in the minds of general consumers, at least for now.

Likewise, while companies like eMatic, Sylvania, and X10 may enjoy decent sales for now, ultimately the bigger players will squeeze them out. Yet, that's not to say you won't see these guys at the drug store or other discount destination.

In the short term, Google is rumored to be working with Asus on a 7-inch tablet that may come in somewhere between $150 and $200 when it arrives in July. Expected to be a pure Ice Cream Sandwich experience, this presumed Nexus tablet should far outsell the no-name devices. If Google follows through and blankets retail outlets and online stores with their device, we'll be talking about explosive growth.