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Folks that have already decided on Samsung’s biggest Honeycomb(s goog) tablet still have one more choice to make: Will their Galaxy Tab 10.1 have an integrated mobile broadband radio or not? According to an FCC filing found by Engadget, the tablet model GT-P7310, already known to be a Wi-Fi only tablet, has undergone device testing, which is a good sign the tablet will be sold here in the U.S.
Samsung’s Honeycomb tablet isn’t yet for sale, although in an update earlier this week, the company said the device would ship with Android 3.1 “in a few days,” so availability should be close. The launch scenario is very different from the company’s first Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch model, which first arrived with 3G radios in September of last year. It wasn’t until April that Samsung finally debuted a version without the mobile broadband capabilities.
Although Samsung could hold off on selling the Wi-Fi model, there’s no reason to do so. Unlike when it debuted the smaller model eight months ago, consumer awareness of Android tablets is on the rise due to devices from Motorola (s mmi), LG, Acer, ASUS, HTC and others. Back in September, Samsung needed the carriers to show off the small slate, else risk the device becoming overshadowed by other gadgets on electronic retailer shelves.
A Wi-Fi model of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is likely to be similar to the limited edition version handed out to all Google I/O event attendees earlier this month. That device has a customized back, covered with the Google Android logo, and has no mobile broadband capabilities. The GT-P7310 model would likely be identical except for the limited-edition covering. Our first look at the device is here and I just received the tablet yesterday, so a full review is forthcoming:
The question of Wi-Fi or mobile broadband in a tablet is one we’ve asked before. Back in March, more than three-fourths of our poll respondents interested in a tablet said they’d prefer a Wi-Fi model over a device with mobile broadband.
There are several likely reasons for this preference. Although the promise of connectivity practically everywhere is appealing, the prospect of another monthly data charge isn’t. An increasing number of handsets have the ability to share their 3G or 4G connection, so a Wi-Fi tablet can be used online in conjunction with such smartphones. And the larger the tablet, the less likely the need to use it anywhere: An April survey of 1,500 tablet owners showed 82 percent of respondents primarily use their tablet at home.
This group, likely made up of folks who own an Apple iPad (s aapl), can surely get by on a wireless home network. My guess: If Samsung breaks out Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales numbers six months from now, at least two-thirds or more will be the Wi-Fi model.