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Tablet Wars & Deals: Apple, Nokia, Google, T-Mobile Un-Leashed

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If staying up on the latest happening in the world of tech isn't your thing, you may not be aware that Apple had a big event yesterday where they unveiled their latest iPad Mini and their new iPad Air, among other things. While the weight of that news may depend on which product or brand you're a fanboy or fangirl of, its affects are further reaching than just that one event.

 

 

Enter: The iPad Air & Retina Mini

Apple talked about the original launch of their "magical" iPad, talking about the fact that the device has moved 170 million units since it hit the market, regaling their audience with sales trends and more showmanship before unveiling all the details on their latest tablets. Though they'll be keeping their previous generation Mini's on the market, they've added iPad Mini's with Retina displays to the mix at the cost of $399, while dropping the previous gen Mini's to $299. While the full-size iPad has had the Retina display for two generations now, that didn't stop the Cupertino company from pushing that product further by making it even lighter than before, weighing in at only 1lb. and now equipped with dual microphones for better audio during those Facetime or other video calls.

 

 

Apple Has Serious Competition

With traditional PC and laptop sales continuing to trend downward, tablets are going in the other direction and manufacturers are betting big on them. Recently, Google released their refresh of the popular Nexus 7 tablet and Nokia just announced their first Windows tablet, the Lumia 2520. Google's Nexus 7 is a 7" tablet which an HD display that starts at a very compelling $229 for the base model but you'll pay $349 if you want it connected with service to either AT&T or T-Mobile. Nokia's 2520 is a 10.1" tablet with an HD display as well but it's running Windows RT instead of Android like the Nexus and comes with a rapid charging feature which touts the ability to charge to 80% in one hour. The tablet is quite the looker, taking design cues from its little siblings in Nokia's Lumia Windows Phone line. Once the 2520 is available, sometime in the 4th quarter this year, you'll be able to pick one up for $499 with built-in LTE connectivity. There are reports and rumors that HTC will also be entering the game soon, or rather re-entering the game after fumbled attempts with previous tablet releases two years ago. Tablets, tablets and more tablets, but if the cost of being mobile comes at a premium, how do cellular companies get folks into the devices in mass despite the large adoption of the wifi versions?

 

 

Tablets Un-Leashed: A Free Tablet Data Plan?

T-Mobile has some ideas on getting people to buy LTE connected versions of tablets as they just announced their new Tablets Un-leashed program, the latest addition to their Un-Carrier campaign . The new program is quite simple:

You can now pick up a tablet from T-Mobile starting at $0 down, with 24 payments (pending credit approval). They upped the awesome by including 200 MB of data FREE every month with an active Mobile Internet account. Now, 200 MB is nothing, but in a pinch, it will definitely get your emails and Instagram'd pictures of your lunch done for a stretch of time. As part of the announcement, T-Mobile included that new Nexus 7 and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

Provided you get good T-Mobile service in your neighborhood and have a solid LTE connection, this is actually an amazing deal that Big Magenta is offering. They're even advertising that they'll have the new Retina iPad mini's and iPad Air on the $0 pricing like the Nexus 7 which we know will be $0 down and $16 a month for two-years. If you don't qualify for the $0 down, you can pick up an iPad mini or Air for $99 (32GB) or $199.99 (64GB) with monthly payments of $22.08 or $26.25 respectively. Walmart is riding the Apple hype train and released the following information today as well:

"Starting at 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday, customers can now trade in their tablets at more than 3,600 stores and Sam's Club locations nationwide. Similar to its smartphone program, customers can receive up to $300 for their current tablet, which will then be applied toward the purchase of a new tablet. For example, a customer would receive approximately $165 for their Apple iPad 4 Wi-Fi 16GB."

Walmart says that in order to determine the value of your trade-in tablet, they'll be asking these questions: Does it power on? Is the display fully functional and free of dead spots? Is the tablet and display completely free of cracks? What is the wireless carrier? The pressure is definitely on for retailers to come up with innovative ways to keep people buying. Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise for Walmart U.S. had this to say, "Tablets are one of the fastest-growing categories in our stores and we are moving just as fast to ensure our customers have access to a wide selection … in fact, over the past 12 months, we've more than doubled our assortment..."

There are other stores, like Best Buy and other carriers who will allow you to trade-in your device and use that toward the purchase of a new device but you'll have to weigh where you get the best return for your current device. Just like buying a new car, you'll have to look at whether you'll get the most money for your device as a trade-in or through a private sale, in this case putting your current tablet up for sale on Ebay may get you more money than trading it in at Best Buy or Walmart.

Which tablet are you most excited about picking up? Does T-Mobile's Un-Leashed program give you enough incentive to give them a try and pick up a tablet that may have been outside the reach of your budget? Let us know in the comments below.

Tshaka Armstrong Tech Ninja Tshaka Armstong writes about the latest technology and helping FOX 11 Viewers understand how to be safer, smarter users of the internet and their "gadgets. He's also one of our social media guys, helping guide the station's online efforts and social media outreach.
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