Hands-on with the T-Mobile G-Slate

Teased briefly at CES 2011, the T-Mobile G-Slate by LG makes a full appearance at Mobile World Congress and we go hands-on with the Honeycomb tablet.

T-Mobile G-Slate
T-Mobile G-Slate Bonnie Cha/CNET

BARCELONA, Spain--The T-Mobile G-Slate by LG isn't a new announcement. The 4G Honeycomb tablet was actually first introduced at CES 2011 , but it only made a brief appearance during T-Mobile's press conference before it was quickly whisked away by LG executives.

However, our appetite for the G-Slate was satiated at Mobile World Congress 2011 where T-Mobile and LG provided us with some hands-on time with the tablet. Now, I haven't seen all the tablets out there, but I've certainly checked out a number of devices, including the iPad, the HP TouchPad, and Samsung's Galaxy Tab line. All have their pros and cons, but right off the bat, I was impressed with the G-Slate's design.

The tablet had a premium feel that was on par with the iPad. A soft-touch finish on back gave it a non-slippery texture, and the tapered edges and rounded corners made it easy to hold. There is some heft to it, but on the upside, it was relatively slim.

Unlike its competitors, LG didn't go with a 7-inch screen or a 10-inch screen and instead settled somewhat in the middle with a 8.9-inch HD multitouch screen. The companies likened it to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where the 7-inch tablets might be too small and the 10-inch tablets might be too large for some, but the G-Slate feels just right. Personally, I like my devices on the smaller side, but what I like even more is that I have a choice, and the G-Slate is certainly a contender.

The display is gorgeous and sharp and felt responsive. As we noted earlier, the tablet will run Android OS 3.0 (aka Honeycomb) and it will be the stock Android experience--no custom user interface from T-Mobile or LG. The carrier did say, however, that it will preload the device with some extra content, which T-Mobile has been known to do with its smartphones.

There are other ways the G-Slate differentiates itself from the competition. It will be the first 4G Honeycomb tablet to come to market, running on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. Obviously, we weren't able to test out the data speeds since we were in Barcelona, but theoretically, download speeds can hit up to 21Mbps. The G-Slate is also outfitted with a dual-core processor (Nvidia's Tegra 2 chipset).

T-Mobile G-Slate
The G-Slate's 3D camcorder interface. Bonnie Cha/CNET

One feature we did get to try is the tablet's 3D video recording capabilities. The G-Slate has two cameras on the back: one is the normal 5-megapixel camera with flash and the other is a stereoscopic camera. Both can be used to record 1080p 3D videos, and the device also supports 3D video playback but unlike the LG Optimus 3D, glasses are required to view the videos in 3D.

We certainly had fun playing with the feature and it adds a cool factor to the device, but I didn't walk away thinking that it was a must-have either. I'm not sure how much 3D video I would take in real life, especially with a tablet. Plus, the 3D playback wasn't all that great. The 3D effect felt very minimal.

There's still a lot to love about the G-Slate though, so perhaps if you're feeling a bit like Goldilocks, the T-Mobile G-Slate by LG might be the right one for you. Check out our hands-on photo gallery below for a closer look.

The companies didn't have any further announcements about pricing or availability date. LG also announced the Optimus Pad at MWC, which is essentially the global version of the G-Slate.

 

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