Hot on the heels of the rumored $99 Nexus 7 tablet in the works at Asus, another Taiwanese firm seems to have joined the budget-tablet bandwagon. Reports from Taiwan indicate that Acer is also getting ready to add an entry-level budget tablet to its Iconia lineup, code-named Iconia B1-A71.
The Iconia B1-A71 has already made an appearance in the FCC corridors, and has also popped up in a GLBenchmark test earlier this month. Based on current reports available, the new Acer tablet will pack a 7-inch display with a 1024 x 600 resolution, which is again, the same resolution as the rumored $99 Nexus 7, a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, a PowerVR SGX 531 GPU for graphics handling and Android 4.1.2 Jelly bean on board.
Other rumored specs include 512MB RAM, WiFi and Bluetooth capability, 8GB of internal storage memory, a microSD card slot for expandable memory, and interestingly, some kind of cellular connectivity, based on what appears to be a SIM-card slot mentioned in the FCC data sheet.
The specs appear fairly modest, and judging by that, it is expected that Acer is likely to price their newest baby in the budget category. With the budget-Nexus 7 setting the rumor mills on fire lately, it would be a reasonably good bet that Acer would want to price the Iconia B1-A71 at or around the $99 mark. Of course, there has been no official comment from Acer as yet.
While Acer’s Iconia lineup hasn’t exactly been setting retail shelves on fire like the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD, the good thing about the Iconia B1-A71 is that it will come with Jelly Bean 4.1.2 out of the box. Which means that a potential future update could make it capable of running Android 4.2. But then, at this point, that is all conjecture.
Apple’s release of the iPad Mini along with Amazon & Google’s ongoing rampage in the 7-9 inch tablet space with their Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 (now with 32GB of internal memory and 3G connectivity option), leaves the small form factor tablet space already dominated. Any new entrant who hopes to score even a minor slice of this pie, would need to come up with a really solid product with standout features, or a standout price for the same features and capabilities that are already available with these three.
Like I mentioned earlier, Acer has been mum about this device insofar, but with CES 2013 just around the corner, we could expect to hear some official comment soon enough. It would be interesting to see how the Iconia B1-A71 will hold up against the popularity that the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire already command.
On the flip side, other than the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD, there aren’t too many 7-inchers in the market, and those that exist come from unheard of brands and more often than not deliver less than desirable quality and performance. If Acer is able to balance their price-to-performance ratio as effectively as Asus and Amazon have done, they could well have a winner on their hands. Guess 2013 is going to be an exciting year after all.