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How Latte Tablets Work

        Tech | Tablet PCs

Latte Tablets and the Market at Large

The iPad dramatically changed the tablet market as soon as it was released. It created the "iPad market," and Android is still trying to play catch-up. Other devices, like the HP TouchPad and RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, tried and failed to tap into that market. Dozens of Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab tried and failed to come close to the iPad's popularity. Finally, the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 have figured out how to sell Android on a tablet: Make it cheap. For $500, people want iPads. For $200, they just want something they can consume media on -- read books, browse the Web, watch video -- and the 7-inch (17.8-centimeter) form factor helps them do that with an inexpensive device.

At $170, the iMuz is only 30 bucks cheaper than the much more powerful Nexus 7. The iMuz does actually offer a couple features not found on Google's budget tablet: HDMI output and expandable storage. Those features do make the iMuz more versatile, but the Galaxy Nexus functions much better as a content consumption device, thanks to its higher resolution screen (which also has better viewing angles), faster Internet, double the memory, and its very fast Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip.

The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, offers close integration with Amazon's own video on demand, music and Kindle services. It's not as powerful as the newer Nexus 7, but makes sense for dedicated Amazon users. The $200 Nook Tablet offers a similar experience for Barnes & Noble users. Any of those devices -- but especially the Nexus 7 -- is worth the extra $30.

The ICE Smart does occupy a different niche. At $100, it's cheaper than a smartphone when you factor in the cost of monthly payments. Unsurprisingly, the ICE Smart has some problems you won't find in more expensive devices. Many user reviewers on Amazon remark that it's slow. It runs an older version of Android than newer phones and tablets, and likely won't be updated. It can't run a lot of games that require more powerful hardware. The average Android phone in 2012 also boasts a screen nearly as large as the 5-inch (12.7-centimeter) ICE Smart. With that in mind, do the Latte offerings have a spot in the market at all?

Kids who want to listen to music and play games on a small device would probably be better served by an iPod Touch. It costs twice as much at $200, but offers a better app ecosystem and more reliable hardware. New 7-inch (17.8-centimeter) tablets occupy the niche MIDs once filled. And there are plenty of choices cheaper than $200. For example, Coby'sKyrostablet costs only $110 on Amazon as of August 2nd, 2012 and offers better hardware than either of Latte's tablets.

Remember, these are devices designed to be used every day during your leisure time: Spending a little more will make that a much more pleasant experience.