There are currently more than 220 tablet PCs in the market, with Apple’s new iPad and iPad 2 dominating. However, analysts at ABI Research claim the trend is for less expensive, sub-$400 (£250) tablets at display sizes between seven and nine inches – as smaller-sized media tablets provide better portability options for end-users.

While the iPad (from £329 for the older iPad 2, and £399 for the iPad 3) remains the market leader in the media tablet segment, the buzz created by iPad has paved the way for more and more Android tablets and Windows tablets to join the race, especially in the lower price segment, says ABI.

The market for sub-$400 media tablets is expected to see significant growth over the next five years, occupying more than 60 percent of the market share by 2016, while the market for the over $400 segment is expected to shrink.

According to Jeff Orr, group director, consumer research, “The majority of new entrant media tablet models have been in the sub-$400 segment that focuses on growth markets like India and China.

“The strong wave of growth in this segment over the next few years is expected to be driven by the adoption in emerging markets.”

Wide-aspect display media tablets (nine inches and above) are still favoured in the market and accounted for more than 75 percent of the total media tablet volume in 2011, which is mostly attributed to the Apple iPad 2.

No longer considered the unprivileged elder cousin of media tablets, eReaders are also on an accelerated growth track, with more than 30 models currently available by major vendors.

2011 has seen a healthy 33 percent growth in the eReader market and the market for total shipments is projected to grow over 20 percent in 2012.

“Availability of competing models increases options for consumers and will help to boost eReader adoption,” says research analyst Aishwarya Singh.

“However, the slower pace of digitization of local content will be the key market inhibitor for adoption of eBook Readers, as well as media tablets, in the emerging markets.”