Apple started making cellular-capable tablets in April 2010, but four years later most Windows-Intel tablets are still Wi-Fi only. One would charitably call that being late to the tablet party.
The tablet isn't a novel device anymore. You might even call it a mature market. IDC said Thursday that worldwide tablet shipments (including 2-in-1 hybrid devices) showed only 3.9 percent growth over the same period a year ago.
And 2014 will be a "challenging year ahead for the category" with the "the rise of large-screen phones," IDC added.
So, what's the state of the Windows 8.1 tablet in 2014 ? While there are some decent new designs from the likes of Dell ($249 Venue Pro 8) and Lenovo ($399 ThinkPad 8), there are precious few with 4G/LTE.
There are exceptions. Lenovo says its new ThinkPad 8, which has received good reviews, will come with a 4G option. Problem is, that feature is not listed on the current ThinkPad 8's spec sheet and, moreover, a 4G model is not being sold by Microsoft.
I would submit that an 8-inch tablet and 4G go together like air and breathing. Apple understands that. The Android camp gets it. Even Microsoft finally gets it -- though at a larger 10-inch class size and running a relatively obscure operating system, Windows RT.
In March, the first Windows RT-based Surface tablet with LTE was introduced. And the Microsoft Store also offers the LTE-capable Windows RT-based Lumia 2520. But again, that's a small market that's not compatible with Intel x86-based Windows software.
On a positive note, Hewlett-Packard is one of the few to not neglect 3G/4G in both laptops and tablets. Its new 10.1-inch ElitePad 1000 (PDF) Windows 8.1 tablet is offered with built-in 4G and for years it has offered its business laptops with an option for integrated 3G/4G.
Here's hoping that Intel gets with the 4G program later this year.