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New $159 Amazon Tablet Challenges iPad

by guest blogger Mike Bock

We've written plenty about tablets in classrooms, as many tech-oriented districts are turning to tablets such as the iPad and the Kindle Fire as cheap, easy-to-use alternatives to laptops and netbooks. And with Common Core testing requiring an online testing platform for every school by the 2014-15 school year, education-related tablet sales will almost certainly increase.

New hardware from Amazon and Samsung could capture a larger share of the tablet computing sales to schools. Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire 2 is the first sub-$200 tablet recommended by Consumer Reports, the consumer magazine famous for its reviews of electronic devices and hardware, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet earned praise from the magazine for improved processing capabilities. With reduced prices and new features, the Kindle Fire and the Galaxy Note are likely to challenge Apple's iPad for greater shares of the education marketplace.

The iPad is still king, however, with sales of the Apple device making up 61.5 percent of the worldwide market share in 2011, according to Engadget.com. And as we wrote in July, iPad products are also outselling Apple's Macbooks 2 to 1 for school purposes.

Here's what Consumer Reports had to say about the new tablets:

"Amazon's second-generation Kindle Fire scored as well in our tests as its predecessor, and it also has longer battery life. But what really makes it stand out is its price tag. At $159, plus $10 extra for the charger (an extra we recommend), it's the least-expensive tablet we've ever recommended.

One of the limitations of tablets has been their inability to multitask. But Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 addresses that shortcoming, letting you have two active windows open at the same time. The Galaxy Note also includes a stylus, and some innovative apps that take advantage of it. The Galaxy Note nearly matched the iPad overall, and had very long battery life."

The $159 model of the Kindle Fire 2 was released September 14, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 was released Aug. 15 for $499.

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