Archos unveils 70b, the first sub-$200 Android 3.2 Honeycomb tablet


Watch out, Kindle Fire, there’s a new cheap tablet in town. Announced yesterday, the Archos 70b Internet Tablet (pdf) runs on Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), and is advertised as the first tablet to sport Honeycomb that costs under $200. Of course, the suggested starting retail price is $199, for the 8GB model.

Despite its light price tag, the 70b actually has some solid specs, including a 1.2GHz CPU, a 7-inch touchscreen with a 1024×600 resolution and 512MB of RAM.

The Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet (which cost $199 and $249, respectively) both have dual-core 1GHz processors and the same screen resolution as the 70b. The Kindle Fire also has 512MB of RAM, while the Nook Tablet has 1GB of RAM. Both the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet run on heavily modified versions of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which was originally designed for smartphones; Honeycomb was made for tablets, though some still find the OS lacking in various ways.

Other 70b features include an SD card slot, HDMI output, and 3D gaming capabilities. But unlike its competitors, the 70b lacks some popular features, like a microphone and webcam for video chats.

While this all sounds great, we don’t expect the 70b to do anywhere near as well as the Kindle Fire, which is apparently selling at an incredible rate. This is primarily because Archos does not have the advantage of the gargantuan marketing machine that Amazon has, nor the benefit of ubiquitous brand recognition.

It’s also clear that there is a race for the bottom in the tablet market, so there will likely be a number of other tablets in this category launching at CES, which is only a few weeks away. In other words, the Archos 70b is a good deal now, but that edge won’t last long.

Still, if you’re in the market for a budget tablet, the 70b seems as good a choice as any — just realize that at this price point, you’re bound to make some sacrifices, in one area or another.

The 70b will be available starting in January.