Acer Iconia tablet undercuts Apple iPad 2 on price

The Acer Iconia A500 gets Flash support, the Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS, and all sorts of other niceties.

The Acer Iconia Tab A500 will go head to head with the iPad 2 in the tablet market.

The Acer Iconia Tab A500 – the latest tablet to enter the already very-crowded tablet market – is now available for pre-sale at the Best Buy website. The price tag on the Iconia is $449.99, which undercuts the Apple iPad 2; you should be able to pre-order the device, which is Wi-Fi capable, at brick-and-mortar Best Buy outlets next week.

Among the niceties on the Acer Iconia: Adobe Flash Support, 16GB of flash storage, integrated GeForce graphics, the Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS, 1 GB of RAM, a pair of cameras – one of them front-facing and one of them rear-facing – and some heavy-duty gaming credentials.

"One of the tablet’s most impressive features is its ability to run and play premium HD arcade games and complex online games," Acer reps wrote in a press release this week. "The 10-point touch display and six-axis motion sensing gyro meter control provide an entertainment experience on par with the best game consoles." The Acer Iconia Tab A500 will ship with two pre-loaded games: Need for Speed: Shift and Let's Golf.

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So the hardware is right, and the gaming capability is right, and so is the price. But does the Iconia really have a chance of competing against Apple's iPad juggernaut? As we noted this week, noted Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore recently changed his prediction for overall 2011 tablets sales to 45 million units – up from an original estimate of 40 million. Of that 45 million, Whitmore says, 35 million units will be Apple iPads.

"[W]e remain skeptical whether the likes of HP, Dell, Motorola, Samsung, and RIM etc can close the competitive gap on iPad 2," he said. Meanwhile, a new survey from investment firm Piper Jaffray shows Apple remains one of the most coveted brands on the market. According to Piper Jaffray, 22 percent of the polled students had a tablet computer in their house; another 20 percent expected to soon buy one. And that tablet will probably be an iPad 2.

The Iconia may be pretty cool, but it's going to need a lot of buzz to zip past the reigning king of the tablet market.

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