Tablets are changing the way mobile computing happens. Early surveys show that iPad data use only increases the longer a person owns one. Most users report using their iPad for web browsing more often than any other device at their disposal.
It isn't hard to see why. Tablets let you "lean back", and unlike a smartphone they are large enough to interact with comfortably. People love to browse on their iPad, and they'd love it even more if AT&T wasn't providing dinky 3G coverage.
Dual-core processors like the Tegra 2 mean that a fast connection really will matter with next-gen tablets. Streaming standard-def video over 3G is a little slow, but doable. But try streaming 1080p over that connection and see how responsive it is.
Speed matters. Which is why carriers are scrambling to get a "4G" tablet line-up ready for the 2011 tablet explosion. Sprint President of Business Markets Paget Alves confirmed a 4G WiMax slate in an interview with Forbes. He also noted that the company planned to host devices other than just Android.
T-Mobile also plans to have a subsidized tablet next year, and they're apparently dead set on calling it 4G. The carrier is in talks with multiple OEMs to launch their line-up of HSPA+ slates. It's too early to tell if the public will buy T-Mo's claims that their amped-up 3G network really qualifies as "4G".
Verizon plans to have a substantial line-up of both phones and tablets on their LTE network by "the middle" of next year. One of those LTE-tabs is likely to be the MotoPad. This slate packs a Tegra 2 processor, gyroscope, 32 GB SSD, 7" and 10" versions and dual-cameras. It will support UMTS and CDMA 4G and 4G LTE.
RIM has confirmed that the PlayBook will have 4G at SOME point. Verizon has named RIM an LTE supporter, which could hint at an LTE Playbook in early 3011. Some 35 Intel Atom tablets are also due next year.
Expect WiMax, HSPA+ and LTE tablets to be hot sellers in 2011. LTE especially is such a leap forward in speed that, combined with a solid next-gen tablet, it could act as a comprehensive browsing solution for most users. Verizon LTE may not be true, European 4G, but 10 Mbps is more than enough to stream Hulu or browse the Internet. Why bother with a pointlessly faster and geographically-locked connection if you don't actually need it?