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12:51 PM

Sprint Debuts $99 Android Tablet From ZTE

Sprint targets budget-conscious shoppers with Android Optik tablet from Chinese manufacturer ZTE.

ZTE Optik Tablet
(click image for larger view)
ZTE Optik Tablet
Sprint today took the wraps off a new tablet: the Optik, from Chinese manufacturer ZTE. This entry-level tablet's chief selling point is its low price. At $99, it cost well under competing products from Amazon, Apple, Motorola, RIM, Samsung, and others.

The Optik is the first Android tablet from ZTE to hit the U.S. The Optik runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core SnapDragon processor from Qualcomm. Sprint didn't spell out exactly what chipset is being used, but it's likely an S1 or S2 class chip, and not the newer (and more expensive) S3 or S4 chip.

It features a seven-inch display with WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution--good enough for watching HD movies--and pinch-to-zoom. It has 1GB of RAM, offers 16GB of storage for media and apps, and supports microSD cards up to 32GB for even more media.

Rounding out the hardware specs, the Optik includes a 5-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera for video chats. It supports Sprint's 3G mobile data network in addition to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and GPS radios. It has a 4000mAh battery, which should be good to power it through a day, as well as stereo speakers.

[ Ever use your tablet to monitor your heart rate? Read how to do that and other surprising tasks at 10 Tablet Tricks To Try. ]

As for software, Sprint and ZTE don't skimp. The Optik comes with an e-reader application and media playback app. Sprint will load the Optik with its standard branded apps, such as Sprint Zone, Sprint TV, Sprint Music Plus, Sprint Navigation, Sprint Football Live, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile. Of course, it supports Adobe Mobile Flash Player for Web-based content playback.

Despite its generous specs, the Optik costs only $99. What's the catch? Apparently, there isn't one. ZTE is looking to conquer the North American mobile market, and the company needs to get its foot in the door. A $99 tablet isn't a bad place for it to start.

Of course, to get the $99 price point, you must sign up for a new two-year mobile broadband agreement with Sprint. Alternatively, you can purchase the Optik outright for $349 (also not a bad price). Data costs will vary, depending on how much you use it as a 3G device.

Sprint offers four plans designed specifically for tablets: $19.99 for 1GB of data, $34.99 for 3GB of data, $49.99 for 6GB of data, and $79.99 for 12GB of data. The Mobile Hotspot option is available for an additional $29.99 per month and uses data in the customer's tablet plan.

You can pick the Optik up starting Sunday, February 5. More details are available here.

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User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2012 | 7:40:34 PM
re: Sprint Debuts $99 Android Tablet From ZTE
It looks like Sprint is really going after market share. $99 plus $20 for 1 gb of data per month is very cheap. I use Sprint with the Motorola Phantom 4G cell phone. I send pictures and videos all the time with the unlimited data plan. It often seamlessly alternates between 3G/4G/wi-fi for GPS and other services and I am satisfied. However the tablet is a whole different use case. How well does a tablet perform on 3G only service and is 1 gb of data/month enough?
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