Acer $99 tablet: Taiwan firm said to be prepping ultra-cheap device for early 2013 launch

Acer is reportedly prepping a new 7-inch tablet which could retail for as little as $99.

While rumors of such a tablet first surfaced a couple of weeks back, the Wall Street Journal has increased speculation after claiming to have spoken to “a person with direct knowledge of the project”.

Called the Iconia B1, the device is thought to have similar specs to the same-sized Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 tablets. Features of the expected Android-powered device are said to include a 1024 x 600 display, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 512MB RAM and a 1.3-megapixel camera.

However, before you start rubbing your hands in anticipation of bagging an attractively priced tablet, we need to tell you something. The B1 is expected to be aimed at emerging markets.

“While the device has been submitted to the US Federal Communications Commission for clearance, it’s uncertain whether it will actually be sold stateside,” the WSJ says in its report.

The source said the Taiwan-based computer manufacturer had made a number of “project roadmap changes in response to changes in the tablet market,” adding, that Google’s Asus-made Nexus 10 tablet had “changed the outlook for what makes competitive pricing.”

If the B1 was to find its way into US stores, it would undercut its competitors by a fair few bucks, and could prove a tempting proposition for anyone on the hunt for a cheap second tablet or low-cost starter device.

Competition would include Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire which currently comes with a $159 price tag. Amazon’s other 7-inch tablet, the more advanced Kindle Fire HD, starts at $199. Meanwhile Google’s most basic Nexus 7 tablet currently retails for $199, as does Barnes & Nobles’ Nook Color HD.

If recent reports are anything to go by, we could see the launch of a slew of low-cost tablets in 2013. Late last month, for example, it was suggested that Google, buoyed by the success of its Nexus 7 device, was planning a simpler, cheaper tablet along the lines of its existing model.

No doubt all will become clearer when the Consumer Electronics Show gets under way in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks time.

[Images: benchmark]

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