In all likelihood, this will turn out to be the year of the low-cost tablet, a move that was set in motion when Amazon launched its $199 Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble its $249 Nook Tablet. Continuing the trend is Sprint
, which is planning to release a sub-$100 (by a penny) Android tablet on Super Bowl Sunday (February 5, for you folks who aren't into sports). So, what's the catch?
To grab the 7-inch slate for a C-note, you have to sign up for a two-year service agreement, or else it's $350 off-contract. Otherwise, the ZTE Optik appears surprisingly well spec'd. In addition to a 7-inch WXGA (1280x800) screen, it has a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, integrated GPS, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, stereo speakers, 3.5mm audio jack, 5MP rear-facing camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and a 4,000 mAh Lithium-ion battery, all of which comes powered by Google's Android 3.2 (Gingerbread) platform.
"Sprint is committed to delivering exceptional value and feature-rich devices to our customers," said David Owens, vice president – Product Development, Sprint. "ZTE Optik packs great features for under $100. When this device is combined with our Tablet Connection plans, customers can easily keep their personal and professional lives organized, stay connected with their social networks and get things done while on the go."
The ZTE Optic can be activated on one of four Sprint Tablet Connection plans, including $20/month for 1GB of data, $35/month for 3GB, $50/month for 6GB, and $80/month for 12GB. A Mobile Hotspot option is available for an additional $30/month.