From Barcelona to Hanover to Vegas and Taipei, we've seen our fair share of low-end Android tablets, some of which actually offer a bit of promise, and get it done for under 200 bucks. And while even a few sub-$100 models have littered the exhibition hall floors, they're most often mere vaporware, never actually making their way to US and European retailers and online shops. The Matrix One, for its part, could actually get the nod of approval from big box execs, however -- according to company reps, at least. And it wouldn't be a half-bad option at $99, shipping with Android 4.0.3, a 2-megapixel webcam, 1.5GHz Cortex A8 processor and an 800 x 480-pixel 7-inch capacitive display. Those specs also make their way to a nearly identical $149 flavor, which ups its budget counterpart's 512MB RAM and 4 gigs of storage to 1GB and 16GB, respectively, while keeping the other components intact.
While that display won't best any brand-name slab on the market, it's certainly usable, even in bright sunlight, as we experienced today at CE Week in New York City. The tablet performed just fine during our quick demo, which included navigating through some menus and watching a few HD video clips. The built-in speaker on the rear won't come close to filling a room (or even a noisy car, perhaps), but a headphone jack will let movie fans and youngsters alike appreciate content a bit more, especially if traditional tablets are priced out of reach. There's also an HDMI port for outputting 1080p video to a TV, along with one full-size USB port, a mini-USB connector for syncing and updates, a power port and a micro-SD card slot, for adding up to 32 gigs of extra storage.
You'll also find a built-in mic and a two-megapixel webcam (no rear-facing shooter, however). All in all, the 11.1-ounce package is quite polished, especially given the price. We won't likely be adding the Matrix One to our personal collection, but if a $99 tablet is on your must-have list, this wouldn't be a bad choice -- let's just hope it does indeed pop up in stores, perhaps as soon as the tablet's ready to ship at the end of next month. There's a gallery below if you'd care to take a closer look, and do jump past the break as well -- that's where you'll find our hands-on video, with a lively Manhattan soundscape to boot.
Matrix One 7-inch ICS tablet hands-on