Samsung Electronics America is prepping a new line of aggressively priced Galaxy Tab media tablets and even smaller Galaxy Players for a U.S. release beginning this month and into May.

Samsung's new 7.7-inch Galaxy Tab 2 launches on April 22 at $249.99, while the 10.1-inch model will begin shipping on May 13 at $349.99. By contrast, Toshiba's recently announced 7.7-inch and 10.1 Excite tablets are being priced in the $449.99 to $499.99 range.

The low prices are an effort to better compete with U.S. market leaders Apple and Amazon. Samsung will launch the latest products through Best Buy's retail outlets as well as Amazon's online Web site.

Samsung's new Galaxy Player with a 3.6-inch HVGA screen suitable for gaming, videos and music applications is already available exclusively from Best Buy for $149.99. A 4.2-inch Galaxy Player will take its inaugural bows next month at $199.99.

Putting Pressure on Apple

Samsung's aggressive pricing strategy for its next generation Galaxy Tab 2 models is a clear challenge to market leader Apple. Piper Jaffray believes that a new 7.7-inch iPad is in the works but does not expect to see the new model launch this year.

"We continue to believe that Apple will release a sub-$300 iPad with a smaller display in calendar year 2013," wrote Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Douglas Clinton in a March investor note.

When we asked whether Piper Jaffray foresees an earlier launch date for a 7.7-inch iPad, Clinton responded in an e-mail Thursday, saying, "Our thoughts on the timing of the smaller iPad remain unchanged despite Samsung's [latest] Galaxy releases."

So in theory Samsung will have ample opportunities this year to attract the attention of price-conscious American consumers who may be leery of locking themselves in to the Amazon-centric software Relevant Products/Services capabilities of the Kindle Fire. However, the important student market may not be as receptive to Samsung's lower priced offerings as one might believe at first blush.

Piper Jaffray's analysts noted recently that so far, Apple is maintaining its significant advantage over rival tablet makers among American teenagers. A recent survey conducted by the investment firm shows that 34 percent of students now own a tablet -- up from 29 percent in the autumn of latest year.

"Of those tablet owners, 70 percent owned iPads, 19 percent owned Android tablets and 11 percent owned Kindle Fires," Munster and Clinton said.

Products in Search of a Market

Both of Samsung's new Galaxy Tab 2 media tablets integrate dual-core processors and run Google's latest Android 4.0 platform, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. What's more, both devices can double as an IR blaster featuring universal remote capabilities for controlling a variety of home entertainment gear.

The company also has high hopes for its new Galaxy Player offerings, which integrate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless radios but do not offer any cellular connectivity options. The diminutive gadgets are also designed to run Google's older Android 2.3 platform, otherwise known as Gingerbread, and stereo speakers are only available on Samsung's new 4.2-inch model.

So the biggest question is whether many U.S. consumers will be willing to purchase a Galaxy Player model at the $149.99 and $199.99 price points. Americans already can purchase advanced smartphones featuring similar multimedia capabilities and similarly sized screen as well as a 7.7-inch media tablet for $199.99 from vendors such as Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.