Editorial: The World Needs More 4G Tablets

The mobile industry is constantly changing, with new trends hitting every few months. Back in 2010, Apple unveiled the iPad, completely changing the tablet landscape. Take a look now, and it’d be hard to find a technology manufacturer who doesn’t have some sort of tablet in the their lineup.

Android has progressed a long way in these short two years, and has had its own dedicated tablet interface for about a year and a half now. The original iPad launched with a 3G configuration, with the latest iteration bumping it to 4G LTE. When the first Android tablets began to surface, there were more than a few variants with mobile connectivity. However, they never sold well due to either a high price, in addition to the expensive data plan, or required a 2-year contract (which still retained the expensive data plan).

I’ve had a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for a week or two now, and it’s running on Verizon’s 4G network. After using it for a period of time, I can say that I firmly believe in tablets being able to access the web anywhere, whether or not I have a smartphone in my pocket. The sheer convenience of being able to pull out my tablet anywhere, or not have to rely on a crappy WiFi network is incredibly valuable, but only for a certain price.

Apple and AT&T paired up to offer a deeply discounted data plan with the original iPad, but so far that has mostly stuck to iPads. Sure, you could buy a tablet off-contract from AT&T and take advantage of that price point, but for the most part you are not getting your money’s worth upfront. A tablet that’s typically worth $300 could end up at $700, simply because AT&T wants you stuck in a contract. Now, whether or not the base 4G iPad is worth $629 is up to you, but I can say that there’s no Android tablet currently available that I would pay that price for, just to use 4G.

What I want is a 7-inch tablet, with access to either Verizon or AT&T’s 4G network. But, I don’t want to pay an astronomical price for it. Is that too much to ask?

Now, the Tab 2 7.0 would be a good example of a tablet that meets the prerequisites. It’s $349.99 without a contract from Verizon, and has full 4G connectivity. My beef is that I can get a Kindle Fire HD or Nexus 7 for $150 less, which are considerably more powerful. $150 isn’t too bad of a price to ask for mobile connectivity, but it is when the tablet is lagging far behind the competition.

Another great example would be the advances Amazon is trying to make with their latest Kindle Fire HD 8.9. For $50 a year, there’s an included 250MB of data per month, plus access to Amazon services. That’s a great deal, which nobody is denying. The only problem is the starting price; Amazon is charging $499 for the 4G-enabled Fire HD 8.9, which is $200 more than the WiFi model.

With the new rise of data share plans, one would think that this would be a great opportunity for tablets. Both Verizon and AT&T’s mobile share plans offer the ability to add a tablet for a low price, which is great for anyone with a family plan. In fact, it could be reason to make a family plan. But, there’s no tablets at a good price to take advantage of this.

I’d like to see something like the Nexus 7, which hits a low price from the start, add whatever it costs to throw in a 4G radio and still make profit. I’m sure that Google could find a way to make it only $100 more, and I know more than a few people who would buy a $300 4G-enabled Nexus 7. It would push in a new era of constantly connected tablets, something I believe we need. It would also spark competition among the carriers.

We’d like to hear what you think. Should 4G tablets become the norm? Is it too expensive of a luxury? Let us know!

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