Hewlett Packard teased tablet PC fans on Tuesday by revealing that a new and faster 4G TouchPad tablet will be available to AT&T's U.S. customers by the time children begin their annual trudge back to the classroom.
HP isn't offering a specific date, but since some U.S. public school districts are opening this year as early as mid-August, the HP TouchPad 4G will likely be arriving sometime early next month.
The TouchPad 4G will be available through HP's commercial channels, AT&T Business Services and major retailers, HP said in a Tuesday blog post. HP says pricing information is forthcoming from AT&T.
HP TouchPad 4G features a 1.5 GHz processor, a step up from the 1.2 GHz processor found in the Wi-Fi TouchPad model that HP launched on July 1. The TouchPad 4G also comes with 32 GB of storage, integrated GPS, and for subscribers with qualifying data plans, unlimited access to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots around the country.
But there's reason to believe that HP and AT&T could run into some tough headwinds with the TouchPad 4G. That's because 3G tablet makers and carriers are having trouble getting subscribers to pony up for wireless data plans.
Earlier this week IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell told Computerworld that "hundreds of thousands" of 3G tablets have gone unsold because customers don't want sign another contract just for tablet data.
"Tablets are a different animal than smartphones and are much more like a typical computer where you tend to sit in one place using Wi-Fi to work," O'Donnell told Computerworld.
The TouchPad 4G won't run on AT&T's 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, which is expected to start rolling out later this year. Instead, it'll use AT&T's HSPA+ 4G network.
AT&T says its HSPA+ 4G speeds come from enhanced backhaul and are currently available in limited areas. The TouchPad 4G is an HSPA+ Category 14 device that supports download speed of up to 21 MB per second, according to HP.
AT&T offers 250 MB of wireless data for tablets for $14.99 per month, and 2 GB for $25 per month.