T-Mobile G-Slate Tablet

At 8.9 inches (diagonal), the is the first tablet to hit the middle ground in terms of size, landing firmly between the larger slates that resemble netbooks without keyboards and the smaller models that feel like oversize phones. But the G-Slate (made by LG, and shown by that company as the ) also packs in features not found on other Android 3.0 tablets--including twin cameras for , and three speakers for producing stereo audio no matter how you hold tablet. And with that, the G-Slate ($530 after rebate and with a two-year T-Mobile contract, or $750 without a contract; prices as of April 21, 2011) carves out a niche for itself, albeit one largely limited to people looking for a tablet on contract.

After using the G-Slate for several weeks, I found myself appreciating the tablet's more-compact, widescreen dimensions vis-à-vis the (9.7 inches) and the (10.1 inches). The sizing--9.6 by 5.9 by 0.5 inches--makes the G-Slate feel less obtrusive to use in social situations, yet it provides a satisfying amount of screen real estate. The contoured sides are comfortable to hold, but I would have preferred the G-Slate to be thinner; at this point in the tablet hardware wars, a half-inch thickness really feels like too much. Likewise, the G-Slate is heavier than I would have expected given its size: It weighs 1.37 pounds, more than Apple's 1.34-pound iPad 2 (the version with Wi-Fi and 3G).

The dimensions were especially agreeable when I held the tablet for reading; the G-Slate felt just right, screen-wise. And even though the G-Slate is heavier than the iPad 2, it felt well balanced. For now, the G-Slate is the only tablet at this size; Samsung plans to ship its this summer.

The G-Slate's core internal specs mirror those of the Motorola Xoom: It has a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, with 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. It also supports , as well as Wi-Fi hotspot sharing for up to five devices. Unlike the Xoom and the , however, the G-Slate lacks a memory card slot for additional storage. Adobe Flash isn't preinstalled on the G-Slate, but a Flash icon on the tablet's home screen desktop takes you directly to the Android Market entry for installing Flash Player 10.2.

The front of the tablet is all screen. I have one gripe: I don't like the fingernail-thick gap between the single piece of glass and the edges of the chassis. Beyond that, however, the G-Slate is sturdily constructed, with a backplate made of soft-to-the-touch plastic.