Chinon Unveils Bargain Tablets

Chinon USA Monday announced two low-cost Android tablets targeted at cost-conscious buyers. The 7-inch Chinon Swift-7 costs $160, while the 9.7-inch Chinon Swift-10 is $280.

Both tablets run Android 2.3--a disappointing choice what with new Android slates like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.0 featuring version 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

The smaller Swift-7 is aggressively priced. In fact, it's $40 less than Amazon's popular Kindle Fire.

How do they compare? Both tablets have 7-inch screens, but the Kindle Fire's 1024 x 600 resolution is higher than the Swift-7's 800 x 600.

Unlike the Fire--but like Apple's iPad--both Chinon displays (7- and 9.7-inch) have a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Expandable Storage

The Kindle Fire has more storage, too: 8GB (with 6GB available for user content) versus the Swift'-7's 4GB. That's enough room, Chinon says, for about 2,000 songs, 40,000 photos, or four full-length movies.

You can add storage to the Swift-7 or Swift-10 via a Micro SD memory card slot. Battery life for both Swift tablets is approximately five hours.

Like the Kindle Fire, the Swift-7 supports 802.11n Wi-Fi. Unlike the Fire, the Swift-7 has a front-facing camera with a not-so-great 640 x 480 resolution. (Given the tablet's $160 price, it might be too greedy to expect anything better.)

The Swift-10 has two cameras--front and rear--each 2 megapixels. Like the iPad 2, its 9.7-inch IPS display has a 1024 x 768 resolution.

Chinon USA is clearly aiming for the bargain end of the burgeoning tablet market. The Swift specs suggest a so-so slate experience--which may be good enough for users who simply want to check email, watch the occasional YouTube video, and, yes, play Angry Birds.

Then again, the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook may very well offer a better user experience for a mere $40 more.

In the 10-inch market, the Swift-10 faces stiff competition from a host of Android challengers, many of which are priced only slightly higher. For instance, the Wi-Fi version of the aforementioned Galaxy Tab 2, which runs Android 4.0, will cost around $350 when it ships in March.

And don't forget about the iPad 2, which Apple may continue to sell at a reduced price, once the iPad 3 (allegedly) arrives next month.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci at Today@PCWorld, Twitter (@jbertolucci) or jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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