Bonnie Cha

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Acer Targets Families, Newbies With Sub-$150 Iconia B1 Tablet

Just before Christmas, rumors started to swirl that Acer would release an Android tablet priced at around $99. That could still be, but the Taiwanese company didn’t talk exact pricing today when it introduced the new Acer Iconia B1 at International CES.

Iconia B1-16_WPP_hd

Instead, Acer said the seven-inch Android Jelly Bean tablet would cost less than $150, and is designed for new tablet users or for families looking for a second device for their children.

Price will be the key differentiator between the Iconia B1 and devices like the $199 Nexus 7. Acer President Jim Wong also cited the tablet’s true Google experience as a benefit over more “sandboxed” tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook.

But there are trade-offs for the cheaper price. For example, the touchscreen only has a resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels — the same as the original Kindle Fire — and the front-facing camera is just 0.3 megapixels.

It will also only come in an eight gigabyte model, though there is a microSD expansion slot. Powering the device is a dual-core 1.2GHz processor from Mediatek.

AllThingsD’s Lauren Goode and I got a chance to check out the Iconia B1-A71 yesterday, and it definitely looks and feels like a budget tablet. Pixels were much more visible, compared to something like the Nexus 7. The plastic chassis and electric-blue edges almost made it feel like a toy — although to be fair, one of the Iconia B1’s target audiences is children.

IMG_0030

The tablet is also aimed at first-time tablet users, particularly in emerging markets. As such, the Iconia B1 will launch first in South America, starting next month. Meanwhile, North America will be part of a “phase two” rollout that may include this device or another tablet similar to it.

With the arrival of such devices as the Nexus 7, iPad mini and Kindle Fire, Acer has struggled in the tablet market — a point that Wong doesn’t deny.

“We want to come back to tablets, and we want to do it aggressively,” said Wong in an interview with AllThingsD. “Creating a low barrier of entry to the seven-inch tablet segment is one way we can do that.”

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