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Summary:

T-Mobile’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus launches with improvements and functions over the prior model, such as a faster dual-core processor and HSPA+ support. One other new feature: a monthly payment plan that lowers the up-front cost by adding $10 to the next 20 monthly bills.

GALAXY Tab 7-2

T-Mobile unveiled a new 4G tablet on Tuesday with the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus arriving in T-Mobile stores on Nov. 16. The Plus designation helps differentiate this 7-inch Galaxy Tab from last year’s model, as the newer version includes a faster processor and support for Google Android 3.2: a software platform meant for tablets, not smartphones. The slate’s $450 price tag with contract can be spread out over 20 months with customers paying $249.99 down and $10 each month to purchase the hardware.

I bought the original Galaxy Tab on T-Mobile’s network last December and enjoy both the form factor and the mobility provided by the integrated 3G radio. The look of this new model is very similar to the 7-inch tablet I use, but here are some of the improvements and carry-over features:

  • 1.2 GHz dual-core processor instead of a 1 GHz single core
  • 21 Mbps HSPA+ / 4G support; my Tab only has a 7.2 Mbps radio for 3G speeds
  • Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) instead of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • 16 GB of internal storage with a microSD expansion slot
  • 1024 x 600 resolution, capacitive touch 7-inch display
  • 3-megapixel rear camera (with 720p video capture added) and 2-megapixel front camera
  • An infrared sensor for use as a universal consumer electronics remote control

Aside from the faster mobile broadband radio and dual-core chip, much of the new Galaxy Tab mimics the old one. They’re welcome improvements, of course, and although there’s no guarantee of a software upgrade to Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, the hardware appears capable of supporting one.

One other available “feature” that wasn’t available when I bought my Galaxy Tab is the payment plan. I paid $300 — a sale price — with contract for my Tab. T-Mobile is trying to lure potential buyers by reducing the up-front cost of the hardware; something it’s done before with smartphones and is now trying with higher priced tablets. For $299.99 at the point of sale — and a $50 mail-in rebate — consumers can leave the store with a new Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. The remaining cost is made up over the life of the contract with $10 added to each monthly bill for 20 months. This is in addition to the monthly data service, which starts at $29.99.

A payment plan may generate some sales, but it convinces me more than ever that tablets shouldn’t be sold on contract. While I opted to buy a Wi-Fi version of the iPad, Apple got this aspect right with its 3G models. The problem for competing tablets is that without contracts, the devices are simply priced too high from a consumer’s perspective. Apple doesn’t seem to have that problem given that a 3G iPad starts at $629, mainly because the perceived experience brought from the iPad.

That has little to do with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus since this isn’t what I’d call a direct competitor to the iPad for most people. But it illustrates the challenge that carriers face in the tablet market: Consumers often choose a device first and a network second. Unless consumers plan to use their tablet as much as their primary computing device, a monthly data commitment and cost isn’t appealing.

  1. Travis Henning Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    I like the idea of anywhere connectivity, but on my terms. Which is why I like the iPad setup. If you are going to be “out and about” a block of data can be purchased for the month. If not needed the next month, no need to buy the data. What would be ideal is if carriers started selling buckets of data that are not device specific. Buy 3GB of data per month to be used by my phone, my wife’s phone, then able to tether a tablet to either device without any extra surcharges. But we all know that’s just a pipe dream.
    In a slightly different vein of thought, I really wish Apple would come out with an iPad Mini. I love the 7″ form factor, but having used a Samsung Honeycomb tablet for about 3 weeks, it just doesn’t do it for me (personal preference).
    Reasonable iPad Mini wishlist:
    - 7″ screen
    - Same resolution as regular iPad (so apps don’t have to be re-written – or would this be too small to be usable on a 7″ screen?)
    - 16 or 32GB storage
    - Start at $349 for wi-fi, $449 for 3g/lte
    - 8-9hr battery life

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    1. Travis, I couldn’t agree more. With consumers adding more mobile devices, each one really doesn’t *need* its own data plan; this is a holdover from the smartphone contracts. And I’ve been calling for a 7-inch iPad for the better part of 1.5 years. Love the form factor as I find it far more portable and mobile to use and carry than a larger tablet. I have both a Tab and an iPad, but when I go out the door, the iPad typically stays behind.

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  2. Said it once and will say it again (and again) … 7″ is supposed to be mobile. To truly achieve that the maximum width of the device needs to be about 9.5cm. And then you have to reduce considerably the bezel. If they can do that and keep say 8cm width of screen, which translates into 14.2cm length (for 9:16 ratio), you get about 6.4″ screen.

    Now take the current 7″ tablets and compare with the one I suggest. You lost some screen size, but with less bezel, the one I propose can actually go with you anywhere in your pocket. Try with a carton and see what I mean.

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  3. See also the Huawei MediaPad, sold by T-Mobile as the Springboard. The Springboard has a 1280×800 IPS display, 1.2 GHz dual core processor, runs Honeycomb 3.2, sports a 14.4 HSPA+ modem, and costs $180 with a two year contract.

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    1. The Springboard is definitely another device to consider (my review unit is on the way) but it’s not $180 with contract. The $180 is a down payment — just like with the new Galaxy Tab — and comes with 20 monthly hardware payments of $10 each month. ;)

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