Today Sprint announced the release date and pricing of their 7-inch ZTE Optik Android tablet. Starting February 5th, Sprint customers can pick up the 3G Android tablet for only $99 with a 2-year contract, or $349 without a contract. A starting price of $99 sounds like a sweet deal, but is it really that good an offer?
Highlights of the ZTE Optik include Android 3.2 Honeycomb OS, 7-inch touchscreen display with WXGA 1280×800 resolution, dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, dual cameras, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 2.1, expandable memory slot, and 4000 mAh Lithium-ion battery.
To take advantage of the $99 tablet offer, Sprint requires customers to sign a 2-year contract for the wireless data. Sprint offers four plans designed specifically for tablets, starting at $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.
For those that choose the cheapest $19 data plan, the total cost of ownership is $578.76 (not including taxes and surcharges). That sounds like a lot, but it’s cheaper than a Sprint customer who purchases their own WiFi-only tablet and tethers it to their smartphone. Sprint charges $29.99 per month for their Mobile Hotspot 5 GB plan, so the total cost over 24 months would be $719.76 + the price of a tablet.
So for Sprint customers that want an affordable 7-inch tablet with a data plan, the ZTE Optik is a pretty reasonable deal. The only downside is that this tablet will be obsolete in less than 18 months and you will still be stuck paying the data plan.
For anyone purchasing the ZTE Optik, consider the WiFi-only, quad-core Asus Memo 370T will be out shortly for only $249. Other low-priced options include the $199 Kindle Fire, and $249 Barnes & Noble Nook tablet.
I’ve been using an Android tablet for the last year and I haven’t had the need for a dedicated data plan since I mainly use it around the house or office where I always have a WiFi connection. I could see certain use cases where a user would require a data plan on a tablet, but those are few and far between. That’s why a device like the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note could be appealing to some.
In my wireless fantasy land, I’d love to see carriers just offer a shared bucket of data that I can use with any device connected to my plan. If I’m paying for 5 GB of data each month, then I should be able to consume that on my smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Sprint has innovated with their truly unlimited plans for smartphones, so maybe they can push the boundaries on multi-device plans one day.
Back to the ZTE Optik, it looks like a nice starter Android tablet for the price. We will be receiving one for review, so check back soon for our full impressions.