Tablets were the hot ticket item during the holiday season in the United States, and according to the Pew Research Center, the demand drove adoption to impressive new heights. The respected firm said today that US ownership of tablets jumped to 19% after Christmas, almost doubling the pre-December figure of 10%. The numbers  reflect adults only, but Pew also reported that e-readers had the same near 50% gain while being tabulated separately. While no specific model information was available, cheap tablets and e-readers from the competing Amazon and Barnes & Noble are thought to account for most of the increase.

Before the holidays, Android tablet adoption had grown to somewhere around 40%, again, on the backs of cheap models like the Nook Color, Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire. (The e-ink versions of the Nook, while technically slate devices running Android, are not considered “tablets” due to a limited hardware functionality.) The Nook and Fire, like most inexpensive tablets, use modified versions of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Tablets running Honeycomb (and just lately, Ice Cream Sandwich) remain a hard sell against the Apple iPad thanks to much higher prices.

That may be changing soon enough: after the firesale of the HP TouchPad and the success of the Kindle Fire, major manufacturers are finally beginning to see the value in undercutting Apple. One of them most promising entries into this space is the Asus MeMO 370T revealed at CES, a quad-core Tegra 3 tablet with a 7-inch 720p screen. More importantly, the tablet will retail for $250 USD, matching the much less powerful Nook Tablet and coming within striking distance of the Kindle Fire. The MeMO is expected to be available in late spring or early summer.