The Race to the Bottom begins on Windows 8 tablets, and this is great for consumers.

I have mentioned several times that anyone who is choosing to be an early adopter on Windows RT will be running the risk of being burned when Windows 8 Atom tablets arrive and competition will start to get fierce. It appears that Dell has taken the first shot against other OEMs with a sub $500 Windows 8 Atom tablet. This is going to force every other OEMs' hands on Atom tablet pricing in order to compete.

Let the race begin!

Dell Latitude 10 with dockDell is cutting the cost of the Windows 8 slates by changing two major aspects from the standard Latitude 10. Gone is the active digitizer that supports digital inking. And the 2-cell, 30 hr battery — standard for the Latitude — is non-removable, so you won’t be able to swap in a new battery. Businesses likely can’t live with those missing features, but some consumers, educators and students ought to find the compromise acceptable at this price.

At $499, it’s not a bad deal, considering all other specifications are the same as the higher priced model: Intel Atom Z2760 1.8 GHz processor, 2 GB of memory, 10.1-inch IPS screen with 1366 x 768 resolution, 10-finger multitouch and Corning’s Gorilla Glass all with Windows 8 Pro.