Books written by Ray Sullivan

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Keep On Taking the Tablets

Aldi, the German supermarket store that has a nationwide presence in the UK, is launching its own 7" Android Tablet, made for it by Medion, a manufacturer of entry level computing devices.  I've owned a Medion laptop before - bought from Woolworths before the credit crunch did for them - and it was a great little machine.  The Journeymen and Skin were written on that machine and it is still in daily use by a family friend.

The Aldi product is coming in at under £80 and although of a lower spec than many competing tablets it does have expansion ports for micro SD cards and features a quad core processor.  Unlike Amazon's Kindle it has full access to the Android market and hopefully doesn't come preloaded with adverts for Aldi products.

It is competing more directly with Tesco's Hudl, a 32GB quad core machine that also has expansion ports and a micro HDMI port retailing for under £120, if you can get one.  Tesco report that they have sold 300,000 Hudl's since its launch less than three months ago and repeatedly state there isn't a supply issue, however finding one in the supermarket stores or on-line is proving a difficult challenge for many.  My local Tesco store told me they last had a shipment of 100 units that sold in a couple of hours and they haven't seen hide nor hair since.  The Tesco machine is made by Archos in France, another electronics manufacturer with a long history of making similar devices.

This is the year that Steve Job's legacy comes home to roost.  He opened Pandora's Box with the launch of the iPad a few years ago and launched an industry that knows no current bounds.  The drive to produce low cost tablets in the 7" category is only going to continue and I expect the specification to increase as the prices drop.  The only real gap I'm seeing in the market is a low end Windows 8 tablet in the 7" format - now that would really complement the Windows 8 laptops and larger tablets such as the Surface RT and Pro as a portable tablet that would eat straight into the heart of Apple and would make many serious users reconsider buying into the Android dream.  I would expect such low cost Windows 8 tablets to have software capable of reading Microsoft Office documents offline and hopefully access to Office 365 through the SkyDrive account in the same way my Surface RT does.

But one thing is clear - tablets are fully established now.  I can see a future not that far away where we will all carry a 7" tablet of one of the three main flavours all the time - as a web surfing portal, an eReader for our eBooks, a games machine to while away our lunch break and our primary email on the go.  Then we'll have our 10" tablets for use at home and wherever the larger screen size is necessary.  Finally we'll have our full sized touchscreen PCs for work and play.  If we stick with Windows 8 throughout then there will be complete continuity across all of our activities however mixing and matching operating systems wouldn't be too much of an issue as long as we can access our documents from any of tablets via the cloud.

With the advent of low cost tablets hitting the supermarkets there's no reason for not joining the tablet revolution.

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