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Published April 19, 2011
The web browser that ships with Android Honeycomb is quite different from the browser we find in Android smartphones. For starters, it offers true tabbed browsing, just as you would find on Google Chrome on the desktop. The Honeycomb browser even supports Chrome's Incognito mode (for leaving no cookies or history of your browsing sessions) and will synchronize with Chrome's bookmarks - even supporting bookmark folders. The new features are quite nice.
The browsing itself is generally quite fast and very accurate, but there are some glitches from time to time. Nothing huge, just some visual quirks during panning or zooming occasionally that clear themselves up. In the Labs section of the browsers settings you can enable an advanced UI mode that lets you drag browser controls onto the screen by swiping from the display's edge - it's pretty slick. Adobe Flash support is not pre-installed in the G-Slate, but is available for free from the Android Market. T-Mobile even provides a home screen shortcut for Flash to make it easy. Flash has an impact on the browser's performance to some extent, but it's a small price to pay for being able to view the mass amounts of Flash content that is on the web.
The T-Mobile G-Slate by LG features a 6400mAh battery that the company says is good for up to 9 hours of continuous use or over 11 days of standby time. I've been pretty happy with the battery life so far, and can see that, even with Wi-Fi connected, the tablet sips power quite sparingly when not in use. Getting a a couple of solid use days out of a full charge should not be a problem.
I've been using a Motorola Xoom on a daily basis since before it was available for purchase, so I'm pretty familiar with Android Honeycomb and its quirks. And while the T-Mobile G-Slate could use slightly improved reception, I like it, as a whole, much better than Motorola's Xoom. It is more comfortable to hold, the G-Slate's build of Android seems more stable, and I really enjoy the G-Slate's unusual 3D camera abilities.
It's still an expensive proposition, though. At $529.99 with a 2-year data plan contract ($749.99 without a contract), you are going to have to commit a lot of money to owning this device. A 200MB monthly data plan starts at $29.99 ($23.99 for existing voice customers) and goes up to as much as $84.99 ($67.99) for a 10GB plan. That's a large monthly spend no matter how you add it up. Luckily T-Mobile is going to offer pre-paid data plans for the G-Slate as well, in the form of a $10 week pass (100MB), $30 month pass (1GB), and $50 month pass (3GB). So at least you will have the option of paying for data only when you won't have access to your home or office Wi-Fi.
But no matter what the numbers, the T-Mobile G-Slate is a really nice tablet. It's nice to hold, easy on the eyes, and runs flawlessly. We're still waiting for more Android tablet applications, but those are sure to come eventually.
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