From The Wall Street Journal:
Amazon.com recently began shipping a tablet computer that’s so cheap, you can buy it like bulk Snickers. The new 7-inch Fire tablet sells for $50, and if you get five, they’ll throw in a sixth free. Imagine the trick-or-treating this year at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ house. You get a tablet! And you get a tablet!
Since tablets arrived five years ago, we’ve been trying to figure out what they’re good for. The first iPads were all about you being the first of your friends to own an iPad. But the magic wore off quickly. Tablets have been in a race to the bottom on price while sales overall are in a slump. In search of profits, Microsoft, Apple and even Google have been pushing higher-end tablets as replacements for work laptops.
Amazon’s bargain mini-tablet strikes me as something different: a throwback to the paperback novel. A year ago, I was impressed when Amazon brought out a $100 6-inch tablet that didn’t stink. Now we’ve got one for half that price with an additional inch of screen (albeit lower resolution).
. . . .
Using the $50 Amazon Fire for the past week, I wasn’t drafting presentations or burning through email. It doesn’t have anywhere near the necessary speed or screen resolution for serious work. Performance is almost beside the point. Instead, the Fire seizes on the reality that, for many of us, tablets are entertainment—a means to read novels, binge on Netflix in bed and sling Angry Birds.
Half as powerful as an iPad but one-eighth the cost, Amazon’s tablet is cheap yet good enough to have fun. And like a checkout-aisle thriller, it won’t mind getting battered at the bottom of a gym bag or even dropped on the floor.
. . . .
There are a few acceptable compromises for a $50 tablet. It won’t be slim—the Fire is 0.4 inches, though its rectangular shape still felt comfortable for one-handed reading. The camera isn’t going to take print-worthy shots, but is sufficient for a video chat with the grandparents.
With an Amazon tablet, you’re also buying into a relationship with Earth’s largest online retailer, which makes money on bargain hardware by upselling us on digital media. You are stuck buying movies and games from Amazon, though you can still stream from services like Netflix that Amazon allows in its own app store. Amazon puts ads on its lock screen, which you can remove for $15. You can’t remove the persistent home screen shopping links, however.
Still, the Amazon link may be what makes the $50 tablet idea work. It happens to have an incredible digital media store and parent-friendly features like time limits. And when Amazon puts its good name on the line with budget hardware, it’s easier to trust.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)
PG thinks this is close to an ideal solution for younger children who you might feel required supervision when using your iPad. $50 is not pocket change, but the tablet-in-the-bathtub scenario is less likely to raise parental blood pressure than a submerged $300 tablet would.
For adults, this might be a tablet to leave next to the TV or in the kitchen so you don’t have to walk to your bedroom or office to pick up a more expensive one.
A lot of people must like the price because the $50 Fire is Amazon’s number 1 bestseller in computers and accessories.