Walmart has been so successful with its experiment in selling cheap 2-in-1 tablets first introduced as a Black Friday special last year that it has decided to carry a newer version of the concept with a larger display and Android Lollipop in tow. Walmart will offer the Nextbook Ares 11 2-1n-1 Android tablet for $197 and sales are expected to begin with the release of the retailer’s latest circular on Sunday, March 15th.
The tablet is a marked improvement over the previous Windows 8.1-powered tablet that has been extremely popular for the retailer and manufacturer E-Fun, with a slightly larger 11.6-inch display, 2.0-megapixel front and rear cameras with microphones, 2GB RAM backing an Intel quad-core Bay Trail Atom processor, 64GB internal storage with microSD card slot, backlit POGO keyboard and Android 5.0 Lollipop along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Of note is also the 9000mAh internal battery in the tablet along with a microHDMI port that can be used for video output, while the keyboard features two full-size USB 2.0 ports on either side as well as a touchpad, almost nonexistent in this price range, let alone in more expensive Android tablet keyboards.
The Nextbook Ares 11 tablet made its debut during CES in January and early speculation pegged the tablet pricing at around $249, but the fact that Walmart is selling the tablet for only $18 more than the first 2-in-1 model sold last year at $179 shows that Walmart is serious about keeping the pricing attractive to draw in both first-time tablet owners as well as enthusiasts that would typically be interested in such a device, and it shows, as the retailer had trouble keeping the previous Windows 8.1 powered 10.1-inch 2-in-1 tablet in stock, well after the Black Friday special.
Most in the market for a 2-in-1 tablet aren’t willing to spend the nearly $5-600 that high-end tablets with optional keyboard purchases usually command, such as in the case of the Nexus 9 and recently announced Xperia Tablet Z4, both requiring separate keyboard purchases to take full advantage of the changes in Lollipop that focus on keyboard usage, and the Ares 11 all but eliminates that apprehension for many, opening up possibilities that wouldn’t be considered otherwise.
E-Fun is also planning to release additional Nextbook-branded Android 2-in-1 tablets in 8 and 10-inch versions later this year with MediaTek and Qualcomm Snapdragon 410chipsets, respectively, along with Windows versions in 8, 10 and 12.5 inch versions.