If tablets are going to truly break into the mainstream then the price must come down, plain and simple. The Apple iPad has respectable sales numbers, but its price point puts it out of reach for many and out of the range of a casual splurge purchase. We’ve seen many Android offerings that undercut the iPad, but $400-500 is still asking a lot. Of course there are uber-cheap Android tablets that you can pick up for $100-150, but they are often running an ancient version of the OS with no hope of an upgrade and no official Google Apps. The Amazon Kindle Fire, a heavily-skinned Android tablet, finally broke the $200 mark for a respectable tablet and sales have been strong. Still, the Kindle Fire has its drawbacks.
ZTE is looking to make a name in the US market, and Sprint is looking to stay relevant in the tablet market since it lost out on the new iPad. Enter the ZTE Optik, a sub-$100 7” tablet on contract that won’t make you laugh when you pick it up (even at full retail the Optik will only set you back $350.) It has a very respectable spec sheet with a 1.2GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, 5MP rear and 2MP front cameras, 1GB of RAM with 16GB of internal memory and a microSD slot for further expansion all running on Android 3.2 Honeycomb. So, is this the magic device that will make tablets ubiquitous? Probably not, but it does promise some decent tablet performance on the cheap. Read on to find out if it can deliver.
The ZTE Optik is a fairly plain but decent-looking 7” tablet. The dark silver and black materials are pretty common, but the Optik puts them together well and the device feels solid in the hand. There is a lot of bezel around the 1280x800 display, but then again this is a $99 tablet. The rear has a pair of hard rubber inserts at the top and bottom which make a wonderful grip when held in landscape. It is a really nice design choice and one of the things that makes the Optik feel more impressive than its price point.