I own an OG iPad and love it. A lot. It has made procrastinating while sitting at a desk seem as distant of a memory as having to flip over a cassette in the middle of an album. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. It is seriously a great device though. It bridges the gap between computer and phone, bringing the practicality of a computer and the portability of a smartphone together for a variety of situations, from sitting on the couch to riding the train to work to weekend vacations (with minimal use during vacations as per an agreement with my wife). While the iPad does bridge the gap in many ways, it does not replace a computer or a phone – a computer is necessary for serious work, including word processing, heavy research, photo organization, while a phone is still necessary for true portability as well as making calls. Judging by conversations with friends, many people have simply opted not to add a third gadget to their arsenal and have passed on the iPad. The fact that the iPad starts at a hefty $500 doesn’t help either, as that is a high price to pay for a non-essential electronic, especially for people who don’t care much about electronics. With the rumored iPad 3 having a retina display, I don’t see that price dropping.
Several new tablets have entered the market following Apple’s introduction of the iPad, but they all are still in the same price range as the iPad – the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 both start at $499, the BlackBerry Playbook at $430, and the HP TouchPad has just been reduced to $399. Sure, last year’s 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab is now under $350, but that got awful reviews. There have also been some no-name tablets, but none of them took off because, well, they are no name. The Nook Color is also technically a tablet, but it has hardly made noise in the tablet space (although the Nook is certainly a popular e-Reader).
Enter the Vizio Via tablet at $299. It has a name, it has Android Gingerbread, and it has a low price. Perhaps some of those consumers who will not spend $499 on a non-essential gadget will be swayed by the significantly lower price. Afterall, while the iPad without a doubt has the most apps in the tablet world, most people who grab for my iPad immediately go to the browser. So I would think if the Vizio tablet can browse the internet, play video, and send and receive emails and IMs, it will satisfy many customers. The iPad is the original, though, and certainly has the “cool factor” that no other tablet I have played with has, which counts for something in many people’s eyes (and in Apple’s pocketbook). I’m interested to see if the Vizio tablet will sell, and even more interested to take it for a spin next time I pass a BestBuy.