A full-featured $38 tablet is coming, and I couldn't be happierAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
2013 has been a great year for mobile tech in ways that are both great and small. We've got flagship devices like the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S 4, the iPhone 5s and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that have all made their mark this year, as expected. On the other end of the spectrum, we also have phones like the Moto G and Nexus 5, which may not have the best of the best specs (although the Nexus 5 is cutting it pretty darn close) but certainly have some of the best pricing as well as the added bonus of being pretty respectable phones overall. Just as cheap phones have taken a turn for the better in 2013, it would seem that tablets may be the next in mobile tech to follow in the smartphone's footsteps. Rumor has it that next year we will begin seeing a $38 full-featured Android tablet for sale here in the United States.
I know what you're thinking, but fortunately this time this isn't just some trick where you purchase an "Android" tablet for $70 and it's some piece of junk running a version of Android so heavily customized that you hardly have any applications or customizations to choose from. But instead of taking the route of producing a cheap Android tablet with half of Android's features, this particular tablet is able to come at such a cheap price because the manufacturer, Datawind, opted to produce devices running on an outdated version of Android with outdated hardware specs. The $38 tablet will be running on Android version 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. As of right now, Android is two entire major software updates ahead with Jelly Bean, followed by Kit Kat.
But the tablet's purpose is, of course, not focused on running on the best specs or having the fastest processor. The tablet is said to feature a 1 GHz single-core processor, and just 4 GB of internal storage. However, unlike the path that many smartphones and tablets are taking these days in a push for more investment in cloud storage, the cheap Datawind tablet will include a microSD card slot for an easy solution to increase the allotment of memory.
Make no mistake about it, the $38 Datawind tablet is no knight in shining armor when it comes to specs, but when it comes to price it is. As much as I love to talk about how great tablets like the Nexus 7, and even the Kindle Fire or Nook tablets are for being so wallet-friendly and with decent specs, you can't get much more wallet-friendly than $38. I also can't stress enough how important it is that this is still a fully functioning Android tablet. Although the focus of my articles here on PhoneDog generally surround flagship-type devices, those devices come with a hefty price tag that not everybody can (or is interested) in spending. Quite honestly, when it comes to tablets, purchasing something a little older and a little (lot?) cheaper is probably a good option for many people - even somebody like me. I realize that I just don't have much use for my tablet as I thought I would. Other than the occasional art project, mine has essentially become a $300 Netflix machine for a 3-year old.
And let's not forget the fact that there are a lot of people out there that simply cannot afford the fancy $500, $300, or even $200 tablets that are for sale today. A lot of people just aren't able to be that frivolous when it comes to technology. We can face it - being a mobile tech junkie can be a very expensive habit. But it does seem like we're finally getting to a point where just because a smartphone or a tablet is cheap doesn't necessarily mean that it's useless, or not as functional as other devices like it. The Motorola Moto G is a perfect example of this; as astoundingly cheap as the Moto G is, it's still a good device. This tablet also falls into the "ridiculously cheap" category, and while it would be silly to get your hopes up for this doing a flawless job of running Android without any lag or other troubling issues you're still getting a fantastically good deal out of it if you're a frugal shopper looking for Internet connectivity on-the-go.
It's easy to point to other markets as being the big consumer-base for cheaper mobile tech, but even here at home there is a market for cost-effective technology. There are still plenty of people who don't use the Internet in the United States to this day. Reports say that 15% of American adults don't. Even then, that was just the results of who uses the Internet and who doesn't, not how they use the Internet. While computers might be "on the way out" according to studies, as of right now they're still a main method of connecting to the Internet. It's also important to remember that traditional computers don't come this cheap right now. Tablets essentially are computers, and this would give people who aren't connecting to the Internet a much cheaper opportunity to do so - an opportunity they might need. The Datawind tablet could also be ideal for people who aren't ready to take the plunge into mobile technology fully and wouldn't want to spend hundreds of dollars on something they might not even like. $38 is a price that more people would be accepting of.
Obviously this tablet is not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but for a lot of people it really will be. I am really happy that the joy that many (such as myself) find in mobile tech will be able to take advantage of using the Internet and a full Android experience at such a crazy affordable price. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what all that $38 tablet can do.
Readers, what are your thoughts on this affordable tablet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!