Motorola, Toshiba Android tablets go below $500

Motorola has made the Xoom very price-competitive with the iPad, while Toshiba is making a play to undercut both tablets.

Motorola has at long last reduced the Xoom's entry price to $499, while Toshiba's new Thrive starts at $429, bringing some needed price relief to the tablet market.

New $499 pricing for the Wi-Fi Xoom. It includes a free case.
New $499 pricing for the Wi-Fi Xoom. It includes a free case. Motorola

Motorola today cut the price on the Wi-Fi only 10-inch Xoom tablet to $499, from $599. The Xoom's high price has stigmatized it from the beginning as being uncompetitive with Apple's iPad.

But today's price drop changed that: the Xoom's specifications now make it quite competitive with Apple's iPad. For example, the $499 Xoom with the Android 3.1 operating system has 32GB of flash storage and 1GB of system memory versus the $499 iPad's 16GB and 512KB, respectively.

Motorola's new pricing also takes on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, whose Android 3.1-based Wi-Fi version is priced at $499 with 16GB of memory and 1GB of system memory.

And Toshiba's 10-inch Android 3.1 tablet is even cheaper. For $429, the Thrive--now up for sale--packs 8GB of flash storage and 1GB of system memory. A model with 16GB of flash is $479, undercutting the price of the similarly configured iPad. Two features of note are the Thrive's removable battery and SD card slot, distinguishing it from the Xoom and iPad.

Topping the Xoom, iPad, and Thrive in the bang-for-the-buck department is Acer's 10-inch Iconia. The Iconia starts at $449 with 16GB of flash storage and 1GB system memory.

Topping them all on raw pricing is the well-established low-price leader, the 10-inch Android-based Asus Eee Pad Transformer, at $399.

All of the tablets cited above come with front- and rear-facing cameras, a specified battery life of approximately 10 hours, and dual-core processors. The Thrive, Xoom, Iconia, and Eee Pad use the Nvidia Tegra 2 chip, while the iPad comes with Apple's A5 processor.

Updated at 4:25 p.m. PT: adding Asus Eee Pad pricing.