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Will Sprint's next 'first' be a tablet?

Could a recent string of events point to a 4G tablet from HTC?

Perhaps this will be what Sprint pulls out of its magic hat on February 7? USPTO

As you may have heard, Sprint is hosting an event in New York City on February 7 to unveil "yet another industry first." Coming on the heels of a quiet CES 2011 for the carrier--it unveiled just the HTC Evo Shift 4G--we're eagerly for some Sprint news before CTIA in late March. So what could Sprint have up its sleeve? And better yet, why the heck is illusionist David Blaine slated to appear?

Judging from the theories I've seen on various mobile and tech sites, it could be anything from a WiMAX/4G iPhone to a WebOS tablet. Other, and much less interesting, rumors over the last few days point to new rate plans, but we'd be wise to consider that a few of the more popular Android blogs have received invitations to the private event. I'd say that's a clear sign that Google's OS will take center stage. So if Android is the common thread, then what is the secret?

After the gallery of phones and tablets that arrived at CES, there are very few rumored Android phones to account for. As such, I'm having a hard time thinking of one. Could it be tablet-based?

Let's consider the evidence. Sprint dropped the price of its Samsung Galaxy Tab earlier this week, knocking $100 off the sticker. The change could be related to Verizon Wireless dropping the price of its tablet as it's essentially the same device.

On the other hand, why drop the price on a tablet that's only seven months old? After all, we're told the device is selling rather well, right? Perhaps Verizon dropped its price in anticipation of the forthcoming Motorola Xoom and 4G LTE-enabled Galaxy Tab. And if that's the case, then what does Sprint have in the pipleline? Could it be the HTC Scribe?

Last month we learned that HTC filed for a trademark on the "HTC Scribe" with a description of "Handheld wireless device, namely, a tablet computer." We heard all the way back in September that HTC was prepping an Android-based tablet for the first quarter of the year. Despite HTC's claims that it is still "evaluating" tablets, it's hard to imagine it not working on one. Indeed, the handset maker's profile has risen dramatically over the last two years, thanks largely to its Android presence.

A 4G-ready tablet from HTC with Android 3.0 sounds awesome to me, what about you? Either way, I'm eager to see just what Sprint is set to announce. CNET will be there on February 7 where we'll provide you with the full details