Planhacker: Android Tablets On Contract

If you don’t want a super-cheap Android tablet, then a 24-month contract may offer the best deal. Planhacker weighs up the various offers.

We covered the general field of Android tablets on Planhacker only a few weeks ago, but since then Telstra has launched contract plans for both the Galaxy Tab and its own T-Touch Tab. As such, we figured it was worth putting all that data into a proper table, which we didn’t do last time.

If you do want a standalone purchase, that first guide covers the available options. There’s been one major addition to the market since: the ViewSonic ViewPad, which will go on sale in January 2011 at $699 for a 7-inch model, and $799 for a 10-inch build. As yet, no contract details have been announced for the device, which does run Android 2.2 (Froyo), unlike many of its rivals.

The advantages of Android remain evident on a tablet: It’s an open source platform that’s easy to tinker with and customise, it offers simple, reliable syncing with Gmail, Google Calendar and other Google services, and there’s a massive and growing range of applications on offer in the Android market (even if that’s sometimes messy to navigate). Add video, games and a big keyboard (plus Flash support on newer models) and it’s an appealing choice. Presuming you’re happy with a 24-month commitment, what options do you have?

The table below lists the tablet models that are available on contract; which Android version they run (in brackets next to the model name); their monthly cost (including handset charges); their total cost over the life of that contract; and what data is included. (For Optus, this only includes peak data, since its off-peak periods are pretty useless.)

For the most part, tablet plans concentrate on data usage, but Android tablets can also potentially used to make calls and send text messages. Optus lets you choose a “no call” option for the Galaxy Tab; if you do choose the call option, it eats into your data credits. Telstra’s plans include a nominal $10 towards voice and SMS use. Vodafone offers full data only and call options.

Most plans are 24 months (including those from Vodafone, which offers a 12-month deal on many other phones). Optus’ non-subsidised 12-month plans for the Galaxy Tab are an absolute rip-off and it’s a mystery why they even offer them when you can spend less money and get a better deal.

The Dell Streak has a 5-inch screen; the Galaxy Tab and T-Touch Tab are 7 inches. Optus is the sole supplier for the Streak, while Telstra has an exclusive on the T-Touch.

Full plan details are in the table below. Click on the image for a much larger, more legible version.

Given the relative dearth of models, a major factor in your purchase is likely to be network availability where you live and work. Telstra’s Next G offers the broadest coverage, though its focus on data-only plans might also be a factor in your decision. If you want to use your device regularly for calls, the Galaxy Tab on Vodafone or the Streak on Optus seem the best fit.

For further details on each plan, hit the provider sites below:

Know of other good Android tablet contracts? Share them in the comments.

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