T-Mobile shows off new 7-inch tablet, the Dell Streak 7

Carrier also tells CES gathering that it plans to double HSPA+ network speeds in 2011; CEO dismisses sale rumors

LAS VEGAS -- T-Mobile USA Thursday demonstrated the Dell Streak 7, a 7-inch touchscreen tablet computer running Android 2.2 that's set to go on sale soon.

Officials said the pricing will "break" the barrier of tablets now selling at $400 to $600, but didn't elaborate during a news conference at the Consumer Electronics Show here how much lower the T-Mobile tablet will be priced.

T-Mobile was among many manufacturers showing off a combined 100 or so tablets at the conference.

The Dell Streak runs a dual core Nvidia processor, with each core capable of 1 GHz speeds. The touchscreen offers an 800 x 480 ratio, dual cameras and support for Adobe video chat. An SD card slot will permit storage of up to 32GB.

The nation's fourth largest wireless carrier also announced at CES that it has begun work on doubling speeds on its T-Mobile HSPA+ network, increasing theoretical maximum download speeds to 42 Mbit/sec.

T-Mobile will begin selling devices capable of the higher speeds by mid-year, officials said.

In an on-stage speed test, T-Mobile showed that it could produce download speeds of 28 Mbit/sec using a laptop USB modem from ZTE that was connected wirelessly to a nearby base station.

In another test over the same wireless link, T-Mobile engineers wirelessly downloaded a music album of 12 songs in less than a minute. T-Mobile also showed an online car racing game over the connection, demonstrating the low-latency of its wireless network.

T-Mobile said the faster network should be available to about 140 million Americans in 25 cities by mid-2011. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said the network will be improved mainly through software upgrades and minor improvements to equipment in cell towers.

T-Mobile said it won't market the faster HSPA+ in any significantly different way than the 21 Mbit/sec now offered as 4G speeds.

Ray said that T-Mobile has been road testing the 42 Mbit/sec HSPA+ in Las Vegas, where downlink speeds are averaging 9 Mbit/sec, just behind Verizon Wireless' LTE network downlink speeds of about 10 Mbit/sec. He noted that Verizon's LTE network is not fully loaded with users, while T-Mobile's network is.

Phillipp Humm, the recently-installed CEO of T-Mobile USA, showed reporters a new LG tablet that will be ready for sale in the second quarter. The tablet, called T-Mobile G Slate by LG, will run the Android Honeycomb OS, also known as Android 3.0.

In a brief interview after the event, Humm said that T-Mobile USA's parent firm Deutsche Telekom, has not put the unit up for sale, dismissing rumors in recent months that it might be sold.

He explained that T-Mobile USA accounts for 25% of Deutsche Telekom revenues and that the company has better prospects for revenue growth in the North American market than in Europe. "So no, it's not on sale," he said.

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

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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