Exclusive: Intel Enters The Discount Tablet Market

ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) and EA (Eternal Asia) have finalized their work on two whitebox tablets that are now offered to vendors across the world. Expect these devices to become available in the U.S. in July or August.

The first tablet is the ECS Sunny Hill TM105A model, a 10-inch Android tablet based on the Z2460 Medfield processor running at 1.6 GHz. The device comes with Android 4.0.4 and a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 (5-point multi touch). The tablet aims at the mass market with 1 GB memory, 16 GB flash storage, a 2 MP rear camera and a 0.3 MP front camera. According to ECS, the 6600 mAh battery lasts up to seven hours of continuous video playback.

Those specs aren't overly impressive, but ECS is selling this tablet for $186 to Channel Partners, which should result in a $299 or $329 retail price, given that the typical retailer asks for a 25 percent cut of the retail price.

EA is offering an 11.6-inch Windows 8 tablet based on Intel's Celeron 1007u/NM70 processor with an Ivy Bridge core. While we do not know how heavy the ECS tablet is, the EA tablet weighs a hefty 950 g, which compares to 652 g for the iPad. The device delivers a somewhat underwhelming feature set with 1366 x 768 pixels screen resolution (10-point multi touch), as well as a 2 MP rear camera and a 1 MP front camera. However, it appears that the industry is now targeting at least 4 GB of system memory and 64 GB of flash storage for mass market Windows 8 tablets, which this device includes.

The channel price for the EA tablet is $353, which has a retail price of at least $599, since the $353 channel price does not even include the licensing fee for Windows 8. This may look like a good deal for a 64 GB tablet, but it is a lot of money for a mass market tablet with a screen resolution that we could describe as average at best.

Even if Windows 8 is a much better OS for tablets than it is for PCs, it will be tough for Microsoft to make a huge dent into the market if the company does not find a way to bring the Windows 8 tablet pricing down.

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  • ksham
    I'd personally love to see Intel kick Windows 8 tablets. It'll be one more loss for Microsoft. MS just needs to understand the madness in their recent business strategies.
  • stevejnb
    I don't understand the hostility towards Windows tablets that Ksham and others foster. They're getting smashed from a sales perspective - rightfully so - since they're trying to price them like iPads and people don't have nearly the same brand obsession with Windows that they have with Apple, and Android tablets are so much cheaper, but... Have you people actually used a Windows 8 pro tablet before?
    I'm actually typing this from an Acer Iconia W700 (Windows 8 tablet similar to a Surface Pro). I've owned a few Android tablets (an older Asus Transformer and a Le Pan II) and while Android is the obvious choice if you're looking for something on a budget, but for a premium tablet, Windows 8 machines seem worlds ahead of Android or Apple to me. This Iconia W700 is one of my personal favourite machines that I've ever dumped money on. Full PC functionality, a micro HDMI port, USB port, full support for keyboards and mice, full power off to power on in under 7 seconds. If I go to a friend's place, I hook it into their HDTV and take over. I've spent dozens of hours playing Uncharted Waters Online, Everquest, and more recently NWN Online on it and it handles them well, though I have zero expectations I'd be able to handle high end games with it. About 9 hours battery life for low end tasks (word processing) to 3 hours for high end tasks (gaming). Simply put, this thing tops any tablet I've ever used for breadth of functionality and portability in one package. I was skeptical when I tried it, but I'm sold. I still quite like my Le Pan II, but, the Iconia W700 is a *far* better machine over all.
    I get that it's cool to hate Microsoft and Windows 8 right now, but do yourself a favour and try one of these higher end Windows 8 tablets. Costing the same as premium Android and Apple tablets they are *far* better machines in my eyes. If Windows 8 ever gets some sub $300 tablets pro out there that work half decently (longshot, I know), I could see them making a huge impact.
  • killerclick
    Anonymous said:
    I don't understand the hostility towards Windows tablets that Ksham and others foster.

    The problem with Windows tablets is that Metro and everything infected with it has to die so Microsoft rolls back the insanely stupid design decisions they made in Windows 8. All they need to do is to commit to supporting desktop on Windows indefinitely by:
    - allowing Metro apps to run windowed,
    - providing some non-fullscreen start menu functionality
    - allowing the ability to boot directly to desktop.
    Ballmer's head on a pike would be nice as well, but I guess the shareholders are happy with him at the moment, so he'll probably survive.