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Aldi supermarket enters tablet race in UK with cut-price slate

With Christmas fast approaching and the tablet market seemingly about to explode, a number of the UK’s biggest retail stores have decided to enter the market with low-cost devices of their own.

Following in the footsteps of supermarket giant Tesco with its well-received £120 ($195) Hudl slate, and Argos with its not-so-well-received £100 ($163) MyTablet offering, Aldi over the weekend launched the Medion Lifetab E7316, a tablet that let’s hope is easier to use than it is to say.

Aldi, a successful supermarket chain well known in the UK for catering to the value-driven shopper, has come up with a 7-inch tablet with a price tag even lower than those of its competitors – £80 ($130).

As you might expect, however, for that price we’re talking more MyTablet than Nexus 7 when it comes to the tablet’s spec list. Besides the 1024 x 600 screen resolution, the Lifetab comes with 1GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz quad-core CPU, and 8GB of memory, expandable with a microSD card.

Aldi’s tablet tips the scales at 301g (10.6 oz) and has a thickness of 11mm (0.43 inches).

With a battery life of four hours, you won’t ever want to stray too far from a power source, while the device’s low megapixel cameras – 2 megapixels for the rear shooter and 0.3 megapixels for the front – means your smartphone, if you have one, will probably do a better job of capturing images.

Still, with a price tag this low, Aldi, which has more than 400 stores in the UK and 7,000 worldwide, is likely to have little trouble selling a bunch of these to shoppers looking for a basic budget-price machine.

However, speaking to the Guardian about the growing competition in the UK tablet market, particularly in the budget sector, Ben Wood, mobile analyst with CCS Insight, sounded a note of caution.

“At £79, tablets are approaching ‘disposable technology’ levels with consumers barely pausing when they make a purchase. The sting in the tail is that price is obviously a key factor in product quality and consumers risk being disappointed by ultra low cost tablets,” the analyst said, adding that there are of course trade-offs with devices priced this low.

Around 8.3 million tablets were sold in the UK in 2012 though this year the figure will be even higher.