AT&T is now trying to be a video tablet provider

We constantly bemoan in Faultline Online Reporter, the fact that everyone in the Faultline wants to be something they are not. Like Google wants to be a smartphone maker, when it’s a purveyor of software and advertising. Well now AT&T has gone down the same route, and is offering its own Android tablet – for watching video on, or to be more specific, DirecTV Now.

It’s fairly mystifying. AT&T could have done deals with Apple and Samsung or with other suppliers for cheaper devices, and no doubt, someone like HTC must have built this device and we’re sure the maker’s name will come out once someone gets one delivered later this week.

It is ominous that it is relying on AT&T’s brand to ship this device, not a partner brand, and calls the device AT&T Primetime. It’s $200 or $10 for 20 months, or $30 if you sign an AT&T mobile plan to go with it, so effectively subsidized on a monthly plan.

It is, in a way, understandable that AT&T wants to offer a cheap tablet with a cellular connection. It is a way of massaging its cellular net add numbers each quarter, something that Verizon has been doing for a while. There is even a special deal for those who already have one of AT&T’s Unlimited plans, which have been saving its bacon for the past few quarters. All it has done is pre-loaded the DirecTV and DirecTV Now apps, and called it TV Mode to autoload it and the tablet can just as easily be used for Netflix or Amazon Prime Video by downloading those apps. Unlimited customers will see the speed cut back significantly to 3 Mbps with video streaming at 1.5 Mbps (about 480p) after using up 22 GB of data in a month.

This is not quite going down the Amazon or Apple route – whereby AT&T is producing a device which can ONLY play its content, but it is just dipping its toe in the water and that may come later.

The device itself is unremarkable in its spec, but this is about an AT&T branded device being more appealing to a US audience, which is perhaps sick of device supplier politics, and who are more attuned to operator branding.

It is a 10 inch tablet, with full HD screen, Dolby audio sound, it can support dual Bluetooth media streams to drive multiple Bluetooth headsets or speakers. It also syncs to your phone so that you can make calls from your tablet as if they were from your phone. The battery is supposed to give 11 web-surfing on WiFi, or watching videos or listening to music. No predictions, it may do okay.