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Tablets are exceedingly popular these days, and some command premium prices. But iDea USA thinks there’s a market for lower-priced tablets, too.

Courtesy iDea USA

Although PC sales are slumping, tablet computers might be just getting started. In 2011 alone, consumers snapped up nearly 67 million tablets [source: WorldTVPC]. Apple has been leading the way with its popular iPad series, but the California company finds itself faced with more and more competition from other manufacturers, including those that will stop at nothing to provide tablets at the lowest possible price.

iDea USA is one such company. It sells a range of electronics, including three different models of tablet computers. Hardware and software aren't the extraordinary aspects of these tablets. Instead, it's the fact that all of these tablets cost hundreds of dollars less than many other models you'll find.

These iDea tablets are an under-the-radar kind of product. That runs contrary to the standard tablet feeding frenzy, in which new and improved models from behemoth companies are met by widespread media reports. As of 2012, you'll find them for sale only at Amazon and Fry's.

Although you may have to do a bit of hunting to find this brand, when you do you'll have plenty of options. The company routinely adds to its lineup by tweaking either the hardware or software (or both) on its tablets.

Of course, frequent updates don't always equal quality products; and some cut-rate tablets have a reputation for being sluggish, hard to use or simply not worth even their low price. Others, however, prove that even bargain-basement tablets are great when they find the right audience.

On the next page, we'll show you just what these inexpensive tablets are made of -- and how in some ways, they might be preferable to better known products.