The iPad may be horrendously overpriced compared with other tablets on the market (and I suspect the rumored iPad Mini will be as well), but it does offer an option found on few Android-powered competitors: 4G LTE.
I mean, look at the most popular Android tablets -- the Kindle Fire, the Nook, the Google Nexus. They offer only Wi-Fi connectivity. You can get 3G on a couple models (like the Samsung Galaxy Tab), but 4G is rarer still.
Cut to today's deal: while supplies last, Ice Monkey has the refurbished Motorola Xoom 10.1 32GB Wi-Fi + 4G LTE tablet for $219.99 shipped.
Update: Wow, that sold out fast! Not surprising, I guess, but still disappointing. If you're willing to pay a few bucks more, Heights Mobile via eBay has the same Xoom for $239.99 shipped. Limited quantities, though. Alternatively, Ice Monkey still has the Xoom + 3G in stock, and for $209.99.
I've written about the Xoom before, usually when it dips below $200. But that's typically for the 16GB model with Wi-Fi only -- or at least 3G only. This is the updated model with 4G LTE courtesy of Verizon, meaning it should give higher-end iPads a run for the money in terms of speedy mobile connectivity.
The good news is that service is totally optional; you don't have to sign up for a contract. Verizon's prepaid tablet plans start at $20 per month, and you can activate as needed without reconnection fees or other charges.
The Xoom itself remains one of the most popular Android tablets, despite getting a little long in tooth. It's packed with just about every feature you might want, including dual cameras, Bluetooth, GPS, and an HDMI output. And although it runs Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) out of the box, you should have no trouble upgrading it to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and possibly even 4.1 (Jelly Bean) as well.
To put this in some perspective, the refurbished 32GB iPad 3 + 4G sells for $679. Sure, it has that dazzling Retina screen and a quad-core processor, but it also lacks things like HDMI, USB, and SD expansion. You could literally buy three Xooms for the same price.
You could also buy two Xooms for less than the price of Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 8.9 -- which, incidentally, has a slightly smaller screen. Just saying.
If you've been waiting to pull the trigger on a big tablet with optional high-speed Internet, this might just be the one to grab.
Bonus deal: Game time! I'm not sure how long this will last, but as of this morning, Amazon was offering five popular EA games (PC) for $9.99. The titles include first-person shooter Bulletstorm, arcade racer Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box, open-world shooter Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, endless runner Mirror's Edge, and World War II adventure The Saboteur. These are all download versions, natch. That's a lot of good gaming for a sawbuck.
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