How well are tablets selling these days? If the tablets in question are anything other than Apple's iPad (or Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com's e-reader tablets), the answer is "Not good." According to an NPD Group report, all tablets in the U.S. put together -- other than those three -- sold only 1.2 million units from January to October of last year, compared to Apple expert John Gruber's estimate of 10 million iPads sold based on Apple's reports.
To claim its top place on that chart, Hewlett Packard had to sell off its stock of TouchPad tablets for $99 to $149 each. Despite not being heavily publicized, the fire sale swept the tech world, as did its eBay sequel.
No other manufacturer has pulled out of the market so dramatically as HP did with its sale. But prices of non-Apple tablets continue to drop, as these latest cuts show:
Sony Tablet S ($399 - $499)
Sony's Android-powered tablet, which runs the same PlayStation Suite of software that the Sony-Ericsson Xperia Play does, just had its price slashed by $100. Besides having normal Android tablet functionality, the Tablet S is designed to work as a remote control for Blu-Ray disc players, and integrates with Sony's Reader store and Music and Video Unlimited services.
The "PlayStation tablet" will allow you to chat with friends on the PlayStation Network, but will not allow you to play online games using it, and does not share purchases between it and the PSN store. Not only does it have its own, separate catalog, but any games you purchase on it will not be available on your PSN-connected devices, and vice versa.
BlackBerry PlayBook ($299)
Until Wednesday, RIM's official store is selling all three models of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet (up to and including the 64 GB version) for $299 USD, with free shipping on orders over $50.
The PlayBook has largely proved an embarrassment for RIM. The company was forced to write off $485 million in unsold inventory, and its policies for app developers became the target of a viral letter by Jamie Murai called "You Win, RIM!"
Nook Color ($199)
When Barnes & Noble released its new Nook Tablet late last year, 2010's Nook Color had its price dropped to $199 to compete with the Kindle Fire. The Nook Color's user interface is more responsive than the Fire's -- or at least, it wasn't the subject of a scathing usability study by Jakob Nielsen -- and while its app selection pales in comparison to the Kindle's, it's friendlier to enthusiasts and modders, and a recent update added the Netflix app among other features.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.