T-Mobile G-Slate looks to 3-D to stand out in crowd of Android tablets [Video]
T-Mobile and LG are looking to 3-D to push their tablet, the G-Slate, above the increasingly crowded field of pads running Google's Android operating system.
Whether the bet on 3-D will work has yet to be seen -- the G-Slate hit T-Mobile stores for the first time Wednesday. The 3-D isn't what consumers might expect, such as the theater-style 3-D glasses or the glasses-free 3-D of the Nintendo DSi handheld gaming system.
The G-Slate harks back to the retro 3-D of the 1950s and Mad magazine inserts -- the old-school red and blue glasses -- to pull off the effect, which uses dual 5-megapixel cameras on the back of the tablet to capture the depth-adding photos and video.
One pair of the two-color spectacles is included in the G-Slate's box. A front-facing camera is included on the G-Slate as well, for video chats.
Android Honeycomb, Google's first operating system designed specifically for tablets, powers the G-Slate, as it does the Motorola Xoom and the upcoming Acer Iconia Tab A500.
However, the G-Slate does run on 4G mobile networks straight out of the box -- a feature that the 4G-capable Xoom lacks. The Xoom relies on 3G or Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet, and users will have to mail their devices in to Motorola to get the 4G option added, although at no extra charge.
The Acer Iconia Tab A500, which comes out April 24 at a price of $450, will run only on Wi-Fi networks.
The G-Slate is also going down a slightly different path with its 8.9-inch screen, which is smaller than 10.1-inch displays on the Xoom and Iconia Tab A500.
Apple's iPad 2, currently the most popular tablet on the market, has a 9.7-inch touch screen and is available in W-Fi-only or 3G and Wi-Fi models.
The G-Slate, which comes with 32 gigabytes of memory, undercuts the Xoom on price, selling for $529.99, after a $100 mail-in rebate and a two-year 4G data plan. Without the T-Mobile contract, the G-Slate sells for $749.99.
The 3G/4G Xoom, which has a 32-gigabyte hard drive, sells for $599 with a two-year data plan from Verizon or $799 without.
A 32-gigabyte, 3G iPad 2 retails for $729, with no discount for a data plan from AT&T or Verizon.
So far, T-Mobile and LG have announced no plans to offer a Wi-Fi-only G-Slate.
LG's bet on 3-D isn't limited to the G-Slate. Aside from its line of 3-D HDTVs, the South Korean consumer electronics company is also releasing the LG Thrill 4G smartphone in the next few months.
The Thrill 4G will feature a glasses-free 3-D display and, as the name hints at, run on 4G wireless networks (this time through AT&T). Like the G-Slate, two 5-megapixel cameras on the back will allow the phone to shoot 3-D videos and photos.
The red and blue look, however, will be absent -- a style seemingly saved for the G-Slate for now.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Technology reporter Nathan Olivarez-Giles demonstrates the red and blue 3-D on the T-Mobile G-Slate tablet. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times