Sprint to sell $100 tablet from ZTE

With a two-year service contract, the ZTE Optik will be one of the cheapest tablets available

Sprint is rolling out one of the lowest cost tablets on the market -- a ZTE tablet with midrange specs -- but you'll have to sign a two-year service contract to get the low US$100 price tag.

The 7-inch ZTE Optik runs Android 3.2, instead of the most recent version of the OS known as Ice Cream Sandwich. It operates on Sprint's 3G network, but not its faster WiMax network.

The Optik's hardware is decent, if not top of the line. It has WXGA 1280X800 resolution, a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. It features a rear facing 5-megapixel camera and front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video calls.

The tablet comes loaded with the Swype typing application, Sprint TV and a host of Google apps including Gmail, Maps with Navigation and Google Books. It has an expandable memory slot that accepts microSD cards as large as 32GB.

It has an outdated Wi-Fi radio that supports 802.11 b/g but not 802.11n.

Sprint will start selling the Optik on Sunday from its stores or online for $100 with a two-year contract. Without a contract it will run $350. Contract options include $20 for 1GB of data, $35 for 3GB and $80 for 12 GB.

The price is better than any other tablet Sprint sells. The only other tablet Sprint offers with a service contract is the HTC Evo View, which costs $250 with a two-year contract. Sprint is also selling the Wi-Fi only BlackBerry PlayBook for $200.

The Optik is ZTE's first tablet in North America.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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