Acer Iconia Tab A501 Android Tablet Headed to ATandT

AT&T will soon begin offering the Acer Iconia Tab A501 4G-enabled Android tablet. At the CTIA Wireless event, Sprint and T-Mobile also shared 4G tablet news.

AT&T, making good on its promise to support more Android-running devices, will offer Acer's first 4G tablet, the Iconia Tab A501.

Pricing and an exact release date were left off a March 22 news release, but the 4G tablet will launch in the second quarter, according to AT&T-which could mean just weeks.

The Iconia Tab features a high-resolution, 10-inch display with a wide viewing angle and Google's tablet-optimized Android 3.0 operating system, known as "Honeycomb." A 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 250 dual-core processor with integrated graphics is also on board-hello, gamers!-along with a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a high-definition front-facing camera for making video calls. Acer has also included an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port for playing 1080p-quality video on an HDTV.

"This tablet is packed with features that will enable HD gaming and exceptional video playback," David Haight, vice president of business development for AT&T's Emerging Devices unit, said in a statement. "It offers a first-class on-the-go entertainment experience."

Then, there's the Iconia Tab's 4G connectivity, a feature that the Apple iPad 2 still does without. The iPad is by far still the tablet to beat, despite the growing-by-leaps-and-bounds tablet marketplace. (Though on March 22, Samsung out-skinnied Apple, with the introduction of its 8.6mm-thin Galaxy Tab 8.9.)

AT&T currently offers limited 4G coverage via HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) technology, but has long been planning to begin rolling out 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) service, like competitor Verizon offers, in mid 2011. Toward this goal, in December 2010, AT&T purchased spectrum from Qualcomm that covers more than 300 million people nationwide, including 70 million people in major markets such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia.

The purchase, AT&T said in a statement at the time, would help it "provide an advanced 4G mobile broadband experience for its customers in the years ahead."

Needing still more spectrum, the carrier recently announced plans to acquire T-Mobile, the nation's fourth-largest carrier, which has also been steadily building a 4G network infrastructure.

That deal-should regulators even approve it-will take most of the year to come together, according to analysts. In the meantime, T-Mobile has also announced support for a new, 4G-enabled, Honeycomb-running tablet, the LG Electronics G-Slate.

At the CTIA Wireless event in Orlando, Fla., March 22, T-Mobile showed off the tablet-an in-betweener, at 8.9 inches-along with an LG 4G smartphone, the G2x. Not to be left out, Sprint also had 4G tablet news at the show, introducing the Evo View 4G, a 3G/4G Android tablet with a 7-inch touch display, support for 3D video, dual cameras and the ability to act as a hotspot for other devices.

The carriers were all more eager to show off their devices than to share specifics about pricing and timing. Suggesting the AT&T Acer Iconia Tab really is around the corner, however, the tablet turned up on the Federal Communications Commission Website March 21. Details in the paperwork show that 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity are all also included, along with support for Adobe's Flash 10.1-a feature common in Android tablets but that the iPad 2 also does without.