Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Life's Not So Good for the T-Mobile Ghost-Slate

I recently purchased the T-Mobile G-Slate and have been using it for about two weeks now. Let me start by saying that this is not a post on how I am displeased with the G-Slate, because, quite frankly, it is a pretty amazing machine. It is incredibly fast and where Honeycomb lacks, the G-Slate hardware makes up. Is the 3D video camera gimmicky? Yes, of course, and it is not that great either, but it is fun. Is the size a bit long/tall? Yes, and at first I found it a bit awkward, but after awhile I really think that this is a great size (albeit less productive than a 7" tablet). The real issues that the G-Slate has so far as usability are Honeycomb issues, not hardware. So why is life not good you ask? One word: Visibility.

In the technology world if your device gets forgotten, then you better like what you have because you are not getting anything else. With that said, I think many consumers will really enjoy the slightly overpriced G-Slate, but many of us are not the average consumers. Many Android users want unlockable bootloaders, ability to customize, and quick updates to the OS. This is where the G-Slate fades and disappears like a ghost--like it never existed.

I am a rabid T-Mobile fan and wanted to get the tablet that T-Mobile was putting out, but to my surprise T-Mobile really did not advertise the G-Slate. Sure there was the billboard or web advert here and there, but nothing to write home about. Moreover, the release date was really awkward. The G2X was being released on April 20th and all of the communications from T-Mobile stated that "another" device was being released as well, which we all knew was the G-Slate. But where T-Mobile might have been trying to generate excitement backfired into them not really announcing it at all. Once the tablet dropped there were a few reviews, most favorable and nearly all received it better than the Xoom, but then crickets. No follow up . . . no discussion. 

I had learned enough about stock and wanted to delve into the tablet so I headed over to my favorite forum, XDA Developers, but was disappointed to not see a forum created for the G-Slate. They have a forum for the Motorola Flipout, but not the G-Slate?! It is not really that insignificant of a release as it is the second Honeycomb Tablet and the first with 4G connectivity (I know, I know, but I am not going to get into the 4G war right now; however, I will tell you that the speed on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is excellent as I cannot even tell if I am connected via network or WiFi the speeds are so solid). I contacted LG and @theLGgirl about the bootloader and asked if it was unlockable, but no response. At this point I realize that this machine is dead in the water, a vision of something that could have been, a ghost, . . . but just then a light.

Chandon, a member in the XDA forums figures out a way to get root (it can be found here). It is a but trickier than the usual, but nothing impossible. I am not an avid Ubuntu or Linux user, but I was able to do it in about 15 minutes and there seems to be very little risk involved. Coupled with the fact that I know that Cyanogen and KMobs both got a G-Slate, I am thinking that the tablet is about to takeoff, but alas, no. 

Google IO started today and there is mention of a lot of things, in fact, many devices have been heralded and name dropped, but nothing said about the G-Slate. In fact, it was so obvious that a tweet from @theLGgirl stated:
In the Honeycomb highlights session at I/O...proud to have 1 of the first/only 4G Honeycomb tablets. Love my @TMobile G-Slate w Google!
It was as if the silence on the LG product was so deep that she just had to say something. What came through from Google IO was just as we had assumed: The Xoom was the tablet that Google was going to take care of (first to get Honeycomb 3.1 and Google Music). In fact, Google went out of their way to update the Xoom before any other tablet (and as of right now there is only one other carrier tablet out there . . . you guessed it, G-Slate). This is like a slap in the already battered face of G-Slate owners. 

I am not sure now if I am going to keep the G-Slate. There is a solid chance that it will be returned and I will go with the Xoom. The updates alone make the tablet worth it. I realize everyone says that consumers should buy something for what it is, not what it will be. But these devices are too expensive and that makes looking to the future very important. I think, however, that I will wait and see if that elusive Nexus Tablet will be announced at IO and that would make the decision pretty easy.

The G-Slate is an excellent device and in this case it is not the device's fault, but if one thought the Xoom was headed to market death, then that means that the G-Slate's coffin is already being nailed down. Too bad, because the Ghost-Slate could have really been something great. 


As always, all of the information you need to do your own research is below. I encourage you to look up the sources and read the stories for yourself, leave a comment here if you have something to say, and follow my Twitter (@GhostWriterv9) and the social networking pages of the person's involved so that you can get a diverse take on the story.

Parsons, C. (10 May 2011). Android 3.1 rolling out today to Verizon Xoom owners. Android Central. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/iVcl8N 

Ricker, T. (10 May 2011). Google Music Beta to stream 20,000 songs for free, official! (updated). Engadget. Retrieved from http://engt.co/l1Pr8A

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