Verizon defends Galaxy Tab pricing at $600

The price requires no contract, and 3G is embedded

Verizon Wireless defended its $600 price tag for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which goes on sale Nov. 11, noting that no service contract is required and that the device comes with embedded 3G cellular service along with Wi-Fi.

Verizon customers will pay only monthly for data usage on the Galaxy Tab, starting at $20 per month for 1GB, Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney said Wednesday. The pricing is the same as for buying the Wi-Fi iPad bundled with the MiFi mobile hot spot from Verizon starting on Oct. 28: $20 for 1GB, $35 for 3GB, $50 for 5GB and $80 for 10GB. (The $80 plan was not originally included in the iPad bundle announcement but applies to both the iPad and the Galaxy Tab.)

Raney said the no-contract plans are unique to tablets, since they are new to Verizon and offer novel uses for customers. She wouldn't say whether Verizon is announcing more tablets in coming weeks.

Typically, Verizon and other carriers require a two-year service contract for a smartphone purchase, so Verizon's approach represents an important shift in data pricing among carriers. But it is similar to an approach that AT&T started in the spring for monthly iPad 3G service priced at $14.99 for 250MB and $25 for 2GB.

"Verizon Wireless has always been committed to providing customers with the latest technology, and the latest announcements reflect that commitment to a relatively new entrant into the mobile arena -- tablets," Raney said. "The data plan pricing for the tablets are reflective of how people use these multipurpose devices, and because they are 3G- and Wi-Fi-enabled, customers have a choice in how, when and where they use them."

Some commenters on Computerworld.com complained that the $600 price tag for the Galaxy Tab was unreasonable compared to the iPad's, which starts at $499 for the 16GB version.

But an iPad with 3G from AT&T adds $130 to the price tag, bringing the 16GB version to $629, or $30 more than the Galaxy Tab.

Other Galaxy backers have noted that the device has a port for expanding storage by 32GB in addition to the 16GB internally. (Galaxy will also come with a 32GB internal storage model, but it is not clear whether the carriers will offer it.)

The iPad also has no camera, while the new Galaxy has two: one 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera and one 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

One of the biggest differences is the touch-screen size, with the iPad's at 9.7 in. and the Galaxy's at 7 in.. The iPad with 3G and Wi-Fi weighs 1.6 lbs., while the Galaxy is 0.84 lb.

Both run 1-GHz processors, and the iPad runs iOS 3.2 (with iOS 4.2 due in November), while the Galaxy runs Android 2.2, which will be upgradeable to Android 3.0 at an unspecified time.

All four major U.S. carriers are selling the Galaxy Tab, but only Verizon appears to have officially announced pricing and availability. Sprint is rumored to be offering the Galaxy Tab for $399 with a two-year contract, or $599 without, starting Nov. 14, but Sprint has not officially confirmed that information.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smart phones and other handhelds and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter @matthamblen, send e-mail at mhamblen@computerworld.com or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .

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