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LG's G-Slate tablet, available from T-Mobile.

Image courtesy of T-Mobile.

Certain things are just harder to do with a smartphone, like watch a movie or browse the Web. Enter the tablet. These slim, lightweight mobile broadband devices offer more agile systems and screens large enough to actually watch a movie without peering through a magnifying glass.

It's been equally interesting, however, watching companies scramble to add tablets to their retail lineups. Cellular phone provider T-Mobile's early 2011 offerings included the G-Slate, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Dell Streak 7. However, by July 20, 2011, T-Mobile had discontinued sales of the Dell Streak 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab seemed to be perpetually "out of stock" -- a shortage rumored to be linked to patent infringement legal proceedings between Apple and Samsung [source: Guirao]. Others point to the expected release of a new Galaxy Tab, version 8.9, in late 2011 [source: Boulton].

Along with the tablets, T-Mobile sells service contracts and prepaid plans so users can access its broadband network. There's also an option to purchased bundled WiFi access.

The G-Slate is T-Mobile's first 4G tablet, designed to operate on T-Mobile's new HSPA+ network. HSPA+ is an acronym for Evolved High Speed Packet Access, which has data speeds reaching 42Mbps -- double the original speed of the HSPA network [source: Bell].

The entry-level G-Slate retailed for $699 as of August 2011, which made it pricier than the $500 iPad. However, when the G-Slate is purchased with a T-Mobile service contract, it often is sold at a discount of up to 50 percent [source: T-Mobile].

The G-Slate is built by LG Electronics, which sells it as the LG V-900. During the 1960s, LG produced Korea's first radios, televisions, refrigerators and washing machines [source: LG]. Today, it's a global company that still makes washing machines and other sundries, but has added mobile electronics to its offerings, including tablets like the G-Slate.

The G-Slate has an 8.9-inch (22.6-centimeter) screen, which sets it apart from the 10-inch (25.4-centimeter) iPad and 7-inch (17.8-centimeter) HTC Flyer. However, reviewers contend that LG's track record of producing electronics with high-end exteriors stops short at the G-Slate, which has a plastic back with a swipe of aluminum for detail. They're quick to compare this to the iPad 2's slick, all-aluminum wrap. However, this flaw could easily be remedied by outfitting the tablet with a sleeve.

What really matters, in terms of performance and function, is what's under the hood. Find out what the G-Slate's sporting on the next page.