Tablet PC prices
Tablet PC prices are changing rapidly. New models are entering the market at both the low and high ends of the price spectrum, and thus lowering and increasing price limits. At the same time, more and more people are buying oversized smartphones, or phablets, so the competition for sales in the tablet market is becoming more and more cut-throat. For this reason, there is tremendous pressure on manufacturers to lower their prices. So, bearing in mind that some prices may have shifted downwards since we published our reviews, we have created helpful charts which sort tablets into three price ranges:
We define cheap tablets as those found in the price range up to $200. These low cost models come with limited features, are of smaller size and lack processor power, memory and storage space. There is also a difference in quality of materials used. Plastic prevails whereas more expensive models use recyclable materials like aluminum and green ones like mercury-free glass. Having said that, technological progress and competition are throwing up some really superb models in this price range.
Medium priced tablets have a sticker price from $200 to $500. An entry level iPad (e.g. with 32Gb of RAM instead of 64) is representative of this group, and it also includes much of the Samsung Galaxy Tab class. They probably offer the best price/performance ratio and are the ones that sell the most.
Passing the $500 price barrier, we find more sophisticated models - fully featured tablet computers with wide screens and a sleek, modern finish. In addition to being beautiful, desirable pieces of art and engineering, they include more accessories, faster CPUs, better video capabilities, more storage space and are more versatile in terms of connectivity.
Factors that Determine the Cost of a Tablet PC
Tablet PC prices depend on a bewildering range of factors. But for customers, the biggest single factor is usually the size and quality of the screen. Naturally, you can expect a 10 inch Retina display to be hundreds of dollars more expensive than a cheap 'n' cheerful 7 inch with limited viewing angles. Other factors that significantly impact the price are the amount of memory, processor type and speed, the number and type of communication ports, USB ports, and which accessories are included. Some tablets may have software bundled, for example Windows 10, which could add to the cost.
And if you're buying a tablet for the first time, you should also take into account the cost and availability of accessories and services. Sure, that cheap Chinese tablet might have good specs, but what if you have to replace the screen or want to buy a stand that suits? And the iPad model X might be the sexiest thing on the market, and it might be in your budget, but don't forget to think how much it will cost to buy an external keyboard or buy a replacement charger a year from now!
The Future of Tablet PC Prices
After an incredible surge in popularity over the last few years, the tablet market is said to be saturated. New product launches are mostly met with indifference, and customers hang on to their old models far longer than with their smartphones. If these trends continue, all that's left for manufacturers to chase is market share in a declining market. One would be safe predicting a slow and steady drop in tablet prices. The yellow line on this graph shows the average selling price of the iPad over 5 years.
But wait! Despite the doom and gloom that can surround the industry, there's actually a bright future for the tablet market. Quite apart from the billion new customers who have been lifted out of poverty in the last 20 years, there's also the mostly untapped business market to sell to. Have you ever seen a tablet on the aisle of a supermarket? Stuck in the back of an airplane seat pre-loaded with games? Been in a boutique shop where you could pay on the owner's iPad? Been to a trade show and seen product demos on a tablet the size of a sport's bar's television? I have!
Tablet sales will continue to be strong for the foreseeable future, and that will be the incentive top brands need to push the boundaries of what's possible in the format.