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$199 Tegra 3 Android tablets? It could happen this summer, says Nvidia's CEO

March 30, 2012

One of the most important hurdles that tablet PCs have had to overcome during the past couple of years, in order to become popular, has been the extravagant pricing. In a ultra competitive technology world, where the sky is no longer the limit, everybody is looking for the best, the most powerful, but also the cheapest gadget, Android manufacturers have faced problems with pricing their devices.

While, a year back, you couldn’t even hope to pay less than $400 for a decent Android-based tablet, Amazon has shocked everybody by launching the $200 Kindle Fire, changing in the process, the world’s perception on what an Android tablet should be (and cost).

Kindle Fire’s success has been so great that Amazon is thinking of releasing no less than four slates during 2012. Other important manufacturers will most likely be forced to follow suite and try to come up with cheaper devices, if they want to stand a chance at maintaining or growing their market share.

According to multiple reports that popped out over the last months, Google is already prepping a 200 bucks (maybe even cheaper) Nexus tablet, which will most likely be built by Asus. However, the Nexus tablet might be an even bigger hit than the Kindle Fire, as it seems that it will be powered by Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 platform.

At the moment, there’s no way to know for sure if any of the speculations are rooted in reality, but hints are piling up to indicate that we should indeed prepare for something as special as a $200 Tegra 3 tablet. The latest hint to give us hope comes from Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’s outspoken CEO, who was quoted in a New York Times interview as saying: “We took out $150 in build materials, things like expensive memory […] At $199, you can just about buy a tablet at a 7-Eleven.”

Take Huang’s statement and add it to a recent Digitimes’ report saying that Asus, Lenovo, and Samsung are clearly gearing towards a cut in manufacturing costs, and a very interesting picture of what’s to come in the Android tab world begins to form.

On the other hand, while customers and technology enthusiasts are clearly over the moon over the prospect of buying a snappy-as-heck tablet for an unbelievably low price, another important question should arise.

If Lenovo, Samsung, and Asus will cut costs so drastically, wouldn’t the effects be visible in the build quality and reliability of their products? Some might answer that the Kindle Fire didn’t have any problems in these areas, so why should Samsung’s or Asus’ devices be any different? Well, the thing is Amazon could afford losing money on the tablet’s actual price, having the Appstore (and its huge ecosystem) as an alternative way of making money.

Samsung or Lenovo don’t have that luxury, so we should all ask ourselves very seriously: do we want cheaper tablets at the risk of getting them at worse quality than today’s devices?

Anyway, getting back to today’s story, we shouldn’t jump to so many conclusions right now, because, after all, rumors of Google’s Nexus tablet are yet to be confirmed from official sources. For the time being, 7-inch Android-based slates are still pretty expensive (with Kindle Fire being the exception, of course) and there’s no way to know for sure if this will change anytime soon.