Yet another hardware maker joined the Android tablet fray this week when X10.com began selling its 7-inch AirPad, proclaiming the device to be the "best tablet on the market for under $200." It's also one of the only tablets at that price. So is the AirPad worth considering? The answer depends on your needs.
On the surface, the tablet boasts admirable specifications that include a 1.2GHz Rockchip 2918 Cortex A8 processor, 4GB internal storage, and 512MB of RAM. Toss in HDMI output, microSD expansion, and a full-size USB port and the AirPad begins to show promise.
Unfortunately, the 800x480-pixel-resolution display and 2-megapixel camera are two features that I can't overlook. For the sake of comparison, the 7-inch Galaxy Tab offers a 1,024x600-pixel screen and 3-megapixel camera.
For software, the AirPad runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread at a time when many of today's tablets are running Honeycomb. And that discrepancy will only get worse as new apps and games optimized for Honeycomb are introduced. On a positive note, however, the AirPad should include access to the Android Market and its ever-growing library of titles. Many times we find that low-end or off-brand tablets lack this support, severely limiting their everyday potential.
X10.com calls the AirPad a "Kindle and Nook killer," which I find to be a fitting description. Rather than considering how it stacks up against other Android tablets, try viewing the AirPad as a multifunction e-reader and it looks better. Instead of worrying about whether to buy a Nook Color or Kindle product, you can download both apps from the Android Market. Toss in other commonly used features such as Facebook, e-mail, and a Web browser and the AirPad meets the needs of the masses.
Taking everything into consideration, I like the AirPad and its $200 price. On paper, the tablet sounds as if it can handle the needs of the average user. Of course, build quality and software support will determine whether this is a viable long-term option. As to whether or not it's the best Android tablet for this kind of money, I have a sneaking suspicion that other, bigger players are ready to take that title.