Exploring Tablet Connectivity: Ways Tablets Link to the World

Ever wondered what’s echoing through Dave Caolo’s dreams lately? The answer is “tablet.” What’s currently a hot topic on Google Search? Again, tablet. And what’s on every Apple enthusiast’s wish list for a potential new holiday in the spring? You guessed it—tablet. It’s the prize that tech aficionados hope to discover at their doorsteps, assuming their credit isn’t tapped out and Apple delivers as speculated.

This morning in the TUAW chatroom, after sifting through our RSS feeds filled with various speculative reports, we delved into how the tablet might connect to the internet. The consensus is that the device will at least match the connectivity of an iPod touch, meaning it won’t lack Wi-Fi.

Considering the widespread availability of free Wi-Fi, from fast food spots to city-wide networks, a Wi-Fi-only model could suffice for urban use.

However, solely relying on Wi-Fi might limit the tablet’s functionality outside urban centers. A possible alternative could be 3G/4G connectivity, similar to what’s offered with Dell’s mobile devices. This, however, might deter current iPhone users wary of committing to another lengthy contract with steep fees.

It’s unlikely that Apple will support alternative data services like DataJack, which offers unlimited 3G for a modest fee, or that they would include a USB port for external connectivity solutions like the MiFi router. Another idea floated is using iPhone tethering to provide internet for the tablet, though this might not be welcomed by carriers like AT&T without an additional fee.

Regardless of the connection method, the tablet is expected to be a major consumer of bandwidth, especially with potential features like streaming video, an e-book store, movie rentals, and the App Store.

Not to mention the persistent rumors about video conferencing capabilities.

Apple’s strategy with the iPhone and iPod touch has heavily focused on facilitating purchases on the move, a model they are likely to continue with the tablet. This mirrors Amazon’s Whispernet service for the Kindle, which allows users to download content anywhere via a cellular network. However, Whispernet restricts general internet access, focusing instead on content purchases and downloads, a limitation that Apple is likely to avoid to maintain the versatility seen in their other mobile devices.

While it’s conceivable that Apple could introduce a text-only purchasing system to compete directly with Kindle, expanding to include audio and video would depend on the evolution of 4G networks. Moreover, Apple must consider the balance between potential sales, commission fees, contract terms, and the interests of rights holders, not to mention the potential for exploitation by the jailbreak community.

In conclusion, as the realms of mobility and media continue to converge, connectivity will play a pivotal role in the success of the Apple tablet.

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Matthew is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing insightful and engaging content to Apple enthusiasts around the world. With a deep love for all things Apple, Matthew covers everything from the latest iPhone and iPad releases to MacBook innovations and Apple Watch updates. His articles are known for their clarity and depth, making complex tech topics accessible to everyone. When he’s not writing, Matthew enjoys exploring new apps and testing out the latest Apple gadgets.