While the latest tablet report from J.D. Power puts Apple's iPad on top, the firm notes that consumers are choosing tablets based more on price than ever before.

According to the firm, Apple tablets scored highest in terms of satisfaction with a score of 833 out of 1,000 for the first quarter of 2014, the firm said. Right behind was Samsung, with a score of 822.

The firm said that overall satisfaction with tablets had dropped slightly from one year to the next, based on what shoppers characterized as increasing problems with actually using the tablet. But what actually impelled shoppers to buy a tablet, the firm said, was price, the number one reason for choosing one brand over the other. Specifically, 25 percent of all shoppers cited price, with 22 percent choosing the features of a tablet and 21 percent favoring the tablet maker's reputation.

"Since the inaugural U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Study in 2012, a number of new tablet OEMs have entered the U.S. marketplace, differentiating themselves to satisfy a growing interest in owning a tablet," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications services at J.D. Power, in a statement. "Price has significantly impacted the marketplace. The average purchase price continues to drop and consumer expectations of tablet performance and features are different than they were for past products."

More for less

Since 2012, the average purchase price of a tablet has decreased by $53, from $390 in 2012 to $337, according to J.D. Power's figures. JD Power ranked Apple's iPad "highest in all study factors" except for cost, where it is usually priced significantly higher than Android devices.

Apple, of course, reported strong results across the board in its most recent earnings report--with one exception, the iPad. Apple sold 16.35 million iPads, compared to 19.48 million in the second quarter of 2013. Revenues from the iPad fell as well, from $8.7 billion to $7.6 billion. Microsoft's Surface, which continues to lose money while accomplishing just a fraction of iPad sales, is expected to add new, presumably cheaper members to its family in an event in New York in about two weeks.

What's interesting is that before the purchase, at home, 50 percent of consumers said they relied on brand reputation to help drive their brand purchase decision--an increase from 42 percent just six months ago. But they apparently change their tune somewhat dramatically once they enter the store.

Tablet owners also reported that the time they needed to actually set up a new tablet was 64 minutes, versus 55 minutes for 2013, which they attributed to a greater number of features and apps preloaded onto the device.

JD Power compiled its survey from 2,513 tablet owners who have owned their current device for less than one year, the firm said. The poll measured satisfaction with the tablets in five areas, between Sept. 2013 and Feb. 2014: performance (28%); ease of operation (22%); features (22%); styling and design (17%); and cost (11%).