Are Tablets Becoming Disposable Computing Devices?

ZNet’s Jason Perlow asks with the price of 7″ tablets now reaching the sub-$200 level, should they be considered disposable computing devices?

Perlow relates an anecdote about how his wife fell asleep while using a Google Nexus 7 he’d recently passed on to her in bed, dropping the tablet onto a tile floor upon which the glass screen shattered.

He vetted out the cost of replacing the screen, discovering that ASUS itself charges about $170 to replace the digitizer/screen/glass assembly, and the parts for a DIY repair would cost about $140. The Nexus 7’s touch digitizer, LCD and touchscreen glass are fused together in the interest of saving thickness and overall device cost, so you can’t just replace the glass if it gets broken. Perlow notes that a relevant point is Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Barnes & Noble’s NOOK HD are both believed to use Corning Gorilla Glass for their screens, which the Nexus 7 doesn’t.

Conclusion: it makes more sense just to buy a new Nexus 7 than to repair a broken screen, what with another 16GB model selling for $199 (if you can find one), and the 32GB model going for $249.

So the operative question is: have tablets now become so cheap that they should be considered a disposable computing platform? The math seems to indicate the affirmative, at least for the cheaper 7-inch units. Perlow pegs the threhold at the $329 iPad mini, which seems reasonable.

Also, buying a machine with a Gorilla Glass screen seems a worthwhile consideration. When fell asleep beside the fire and dropped my iPad 2, caseless, on a hard ceramic tile floor, it survived undamaged. Anecdotal, but it speaks well for the iPad’s ruggedness.

You can read Jason Perlow’s commentary here:

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