Will your next tablet have 3G/4G?

Tablets are becoming more commonplace everywhere we look, due in part to all the new technology and features that enable them to perform more tasks in more places. The two key things driving this: portability and battery life. It’s a lot easier to carry a tablet around your office, your home, or around town than it is even the most portable and lightweight of laptops. You’re almost sure to make it through a work day without having to recharge your tablet, whereas most laptops are lucky to make it through lunch.

But let’s get back to portability.

As so many of the services we rely on these days are cloud-based (or at least cloud-enhanced), a data connection is becoming more of a necessity. Sure, every McDonalds and Starbucks you come across has WiFi, but what about all the places in between? What about in the car? And lest we not forget, what about hotels that charge absurdly high prices for daily WiFi access?

For me personally, I travel a decent amount. A WiFi-only tablet will never be something I buy. Why don’t I just tether it to my phone, you ask? First, my iPhone is with Verizon here in the U.S., so a WiFi-only tablet would cease to work any time I’m on the phone. Second, my phone’s battery life. Using your phone as a hotspot, especially for longer periods of time, absolutely murders your battery. When it comes down to it, I’d rather have my phone than my tablet, so again, a WiFi-only tablet isn’t serving much of a purpose if I have to choose between the two.

And how do I justify it from a cost perspective? On the Verizon Share Everything family plan I’m on, it costs me only $10 to add my iPad to share the pool of data I’m already paying for, which is always more than enough. Compre that $10/month to a $12.95 daily cost for WiFi in some hotels, and it’s a no-brainer.

Another concern of relying solely on public WiFi? Security. Any time you’re on an open network with other users, you expose yourself to being ‘hacked’. All the packets of data you send and receive over public WiFi can easily be intercepted, unbeknownst to you until later, when it’s obviously too late. This isn’t an issue if your tablet has its own data plan. What’s better? The iPad and most Android tablets let you use the data connection as a hotspot, as well. No more worrying about your phone’s battery life, no more worrying about talking and surfing at the same time, and no more worries about having your Gmail or Facebook account hacked because you used free public WiFi.

What are your thoughts? Do the benefits outweigh the extra costs for you in having a tablet with built-in cellular connectivity? Let me know on Twitter – @mbchp.


You should follow Mike on Twitter for more great tech insights and good conversation. If Twitter isn’t your thing, fear not, you can always keep up with Mike on his personal blog as well at: www.MikeBeauchamp.me or on Facebook.

Tags: , , , , , , ,