Tablet PCs are compelling says Ars, but how much is cost an issue? What’s the value of ink?

Toshiba_portege_m400Great to see that Ars Technica is lovin’ the ink-lifestyle lived with a Tablet PC. They wrote up a nice piece on the Tablet space and feel that the platform has a compelling value-add. Also noted is the Tablet integration that’s pervasive throughout Vista. Bravo Ars!

They also make a point that’s worth a very minor rebuttal, lest potential Tablet purchasers get put off. Consumers do face a pricing challenge with Tablet PCs, but is it really as bad as Ars mentions?

(via Gotta Be Mobile)

Here’s the Ars point on pricing: "Plenty of challenges remain, and chief among them is cost.The ModBooks will set you back $2,279 or $2,579 in the blink of an eye, and the ToshibaR400 (which is the Cadillac of tablet PCs) sits closer to $3,000 modestlyequipped and can easily be computationally outperformed by laptops costing$1,000 less."

On the surface, I agree that cost is almost a competitive disadvantage when looking Tablet PCs. You can purchase a $1,000 notebook that can outperform a Tablet PC that costs $2,000. Couldn’t the same be said of desktops when comparing them to notebooks? I’m sure we can find a $500 desktop that outperforms that $1,000 notebook.

Of course, I realize they’re different classes of machines, so it’s not a true comparison but: what’s the value of notebook with touch or ink capabilities compared to a standard notebook? That value will vary based on a user’s needs and workflow. For me, the value is very high. Folks newer to the Tabletscape might place a lower premium on the Tablet capabilities, or even consider it a negative. The point is: traditional notebooks either have or are entering commodity status. The same can’t be said for Tablet PCs as our choices are much more limited.

It’s too bad that Ars used prices of two to three-thousand dollars almost as a benchmark to prove that point. There’s no doubt you can get one of the most powerful, currently available Tablet PCs for that money, but that shouldn’t preclude other Tablet PC choices that around $1,500 or less:

  • Gateway’s CX210X is normally $1,099 (I see it at $899 today)
  • Their C-120X is $1,499 ($150 off coupon through Monday)
  • The quite capable Toshiba Portege M400 with Intel Core 2 Duo starts around $1,450
  • Just a guess here, but do you think Dell’s new Tablet PC will be nearer the high end or the low end of Tablet PC prices? My gut says that their pricing will be competitive.

I realize folks that have followed the Tabletscape for some time will tell me that Ars is right and that pricing is a challenge. I don’t disagree but I’d hate to scare off those who are just dipping their stylus in to the ink pool by saying "you can’t get a good Tablet PC for under two- or three-grand."