Thanks to the passing of the PCMCIA slot **, upgrading your device has long been out of fashion in the mobile market. Software updates aside and Bluetooth accessories aside, for some years now a lot of gadgets never got more functional than they were the day you took them home.
Alcatel is looking to change that.
In addition to a pair of 7" and 8" Kindle Fire competitors, Alcatel has also just announced the Evo7 HD Android tablet, the first Android tablet which will let you upgrade from Wifi to a 4G connection.The Evo7 HD is going to run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on either a dual-core or quad-core 1.2GHz Rockchip CPU. It's an upgrade to their existing model which has Bluetooth, Wifi, a VGA webcam, and a screen resolution of 1024x600.
The Evo7 HD doesn't look special, but once you pop off the backplate you will see that it has a slot for a 4G card. Alcatel is planning to sell this tablet as both a Wifi and 4G models, and they will also offer the card as a separate item.
This tablet also has a VGA webcam, 3MP rear-facing camera, 4GB Flash storage, a microSD card slot, and Wifi (n). I've now learned that screen resolution is 1280x800, and it will be available with the 4G module built in. Retail is expected start at $180 for the Wifi model and go up from there. The release date is set for some time in the third quarter.
Alcatel is thinking that consumers will like having the option to upgrade their tablet later, and they could well be correct. But they are also bucking the trend of the market; internal and integral hardware upgrades have fallen out of favor, and even storage upgrades like card slots are slowly going away (thanks to the damned iPad).
At first I thought that customers wouldn't be used to the idea of upgrading a tablet (other than buying a replacement), but as I wrote this post I realized that Bluetooth accessories, add-ons like the Square credit card reader, and device docks are common enough that consumers are probably at least aware of the possibility and may even have gotten an accessory themselves.
TBH I'm not even sure how many potential tablet buyers will even hear about this option, much less be interested. The Android tablet market is seeing something of a glut right now.
In any case, this tablet should see a US release in the first half of 2013.
Alcatel's other 2 cheaper tablets, the Tab8 HD and Tab7 HD, will also be out this year, and both the 7" and 8" models are running on a dual-core 1.6GHz Rockchip CPU with a retail of $150 and $180. They have a VGA Webcam, 8GB Flash storage, a microSD card slot, 2MP rear camera, Bluetooth, g-sensor. The Tab7 HD has a 1280x800 screen resolution while the Tab8 HD has a screen resolution of 1024x768.
** Before someone points out that I forgot to mention the Express Card, let me add that I have never seen in in a mobile device (only laptops).