The Wikipad returns, now with a 7-inch screen and at half the price

The Wikipad returns, now with a 7-inch screen and at half the price

We previewed the Android-based Wikipad in the past and, while the $500 tablet was interesting in some ways, nearly everyone agreed that the price point was a problem. We also had problems with the controller during the brief hands-on with the unit. The tablet seemed to disappear from view soon before it was scheduled to be released, but now the Wikipad has returned, with a number of interesting changes.

The tablet now features a 7-inch form factor instead of the original 10-inch screen, and it will be released at half the cost. The Wikipad will now be sold for $250, but the good news is that the internals have stayed almost exactly the same.

What happened?

“It seemed that asking someone to pay $500 was a tall order,” Wikipad President Fraser Townley told the Report. “The product made sense when you added up the component parts. It was a value at $500, but asking consumers to pay that was clearly a challenge.”

The good news is that the tablet’s internals are all more or less the same. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor, running Jelly Bean. The screen is 7 inches and features a 1280 x 800 resolution, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. The micro SD slot allows you to add up to 32GB of removable storage.

“From a specification point of view there is very little change,” Townley stated. “It’s a smaller form factor, but it’s exactly the same specification. The memory is DDR3 instead of DDR2. We have a front-facing camera for conferencing, but we don’t have a rear camera anymore. Everything else is identical.” The tablet and controller weigh a combined 1.68 pounds.

It seems a little unbelievable that they would be able to halve the price just by switching to a smaller form factor, but Townley claimed that it’s simply a matter of components. In this case, he argued, smaller is cheaper.

“The smaller sized componentry, for all sorts of reasons, it’s more affordable to make a 7 inch than it is to make a 10 inch. It’s not just the screen,” he said.

Where did the 10-inch tablet go?

So what exactly happened with the 10-inch tablet? The company found a mechanical flaw in the hardware and, after working to fix the issue, they found out there would be problems with the components inside the larger tablet.

“Once we fixed the technical issues, it was the controller, I’ll be perfectly honest with you,” Townley explained. “Once we fixed those, we discovered the componentry in the tablet was reaching an end of life. We had a forecast date of that end-of-life, which would have meant, had we launched the 10 inch in the form it was in, it would have been discontinued within a very short space of time.”

Right now they’re focusing on the smaller tablet, but it’s possible the 10-inch model will be more powerful than the original unit when launched. “We had to go back to the drawing board on the ten,” he continued. “When that is launched, it will be a more up-to-date product.”

For now, a $250 tablet with a dock that acts as a physical controller is a smart play. A $500 product effectively priced the Wikipad out of reach of competition, but now it could be ready to duke it out with not only other Android or iOS tablets, but portable gaming consoles. We haven’t had time to go hands-on with the updated hardware, but this seems like a much more realistic product in the current market.

The 7-inch, $250 Wikipad will be released this spring.