A tablet with free data? Sign me up!

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| Published: October 23, 2013

I don't even think I can set any expectations for T-Mobile anymore, because they've just been doing so many crazy things these past few months that they've pretty much surpassed any expectation I could have ever set for one of the "Big Four" carriers in the U.S. They took away contracts, started offering cheaper plans, introduced early upgrade programs and greatly decreased the amount of money it costs to use your phone internationally. So really it should come as no surprise when, just one day after the new iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display were announced, T-Mobile introduces T-Mobile Tablets Un-leashed.

Recently I've been on kind of a kick regarding tablets. I like them, but when it comes down to actually using them I hardly seem to find the time to do so. I never thought I would use a tablet enough to warrant purchasing a monthly plan, and consequently requiring the signing of another two-year contract. For a phone that I will use nearly every day for the next two years? Yes, I can justify signing a contract for that. But for a tablet which I already have trouble finding time to use? Probably a better idea for me to get one that doesn't have such a long term commitment that will charge me a service cost every month whether I use it or not.

But with T-Mobile's new Tablets Un-leashed plans, the decision to choose between Wi-Fi only and data-enabled tablets might not be such a black and white decision after all. Quite frankly, I think this will end up being another winning move from T-Mobile that can only make their rebranding from "carrier" to "UNcarrier" look even more appealing.

So what is Tablets Un-leashed? Simply put, it's giving a little bit of freedom to tablets - and not just any tablet. Actually, yes, to pretty much any tablet - with the ability to connect to data, that is. According to T-Mobile, to take part in the new Tablet Un-leashed program, all you need is a data-enabled tablet. Even if you only purchased a tablet for Wi-Fi use, you can still be a part of T-Mobile's Tablet Un-leashed program, which allows a data-enabled tablet to receive 200MB of free data every month. If you're wondering exactly how far 200MB of data can get you, T-Mobile spells out the important things for you: 800 Instagram photos, 2,500 e-mails, or 200 minutes of music streaming. I guess I'm going to have to do some extra work to figure out how many Facebook statuses that equals, but hey, if it's free then I have no problem trying to figure that out!

Even if you don't have a tablet yet, but were perhaps thinking of getting one, this seems like as good of a time as any to consider getting one. If you use your tablet passively like me, having that 200MB of 4G data at your disposal every month could actually be very useful; it gives the tablet some extra purpose besides just laying around collecting dust, waiting for a Wi-Fi signal. Since it's free, it's kind of like... why not? Even if it's just using it for little things I would have normally used my phone for, it would be nice to finally put that tablet to use other than just inside my house or when I know I'm going to be around a Wi-Fi signal.

But sometimes tablets can be expensive, and not everybody wants to plant down $200 or more for one at one time. Fortunately, if you're feeling this way, T-Mobile has your back here as well. Some tablets are as low as $0 down, and could cost you anywhere from $16-$28 a month to own one. You'll end up paying more than retail cost in the end, but at least you don't have to lay down the entire chunk of money all at once. It all depends on how you'd rather pay for things. It's just like their smartphone program - once you're all paid off, you're good to go. No more payments for the device itself. After that, you can either pay every month for a data plan through T-Mobile contract-free, or you can just continue to receive the free 200MB a month. But, as stated before, it would seem that as long as you own a tablet that can enable data (with a SIM card) you're in the clear to receive the free 200MB of data each month regardless.

My current tablet doesn't have a SIM card slot, but finally being able to use a tablet with free or cheap data connectivity might make me switch it up for one that does. If nothing else, it's just a really sweet deal that I think a lot of people can take advantage of, especially with the holiday season coming up.

Readers, what are your thoughts on T-Mobile's new Tablets Un-leashed plans? Do you plan on taking advantage of this offer? Let us know your thoughts on it in the comments below!