With Android-powered Trek HD, AT&T launches its first branded tablet

The 8-inch device will run Android 5.0 Lollipop and be available either for $49.99 with a two-year contract or for $10 per month on an installment plan.

While Verizon has tried its hand at branded tablets over the last couple of years with its Ellipsis Android devices, its chief mobile competitor has relied on selling other manufacturers' slates. But even as tablet sales have started flagging, AT&T has decided to launch its first branded model.

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Like the most recent Ellipsis, the Trek HD is an 8-inch Android tablet with LTE capabilities, but unlike its Verizon competitor, it appears to have slightly better specs at a similar price point. While the Ellipsis 8 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and makes use of an unnamed 1.5GHz quad-core processor, the Trek will ship with the latest version of Android, 5.0 Lollipop, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core CPU.

The Ellipsis has the advantage in battery size -- 5,000 mAh to 4,060 mAh -- but the tablets duel to a draw in built-in storage (16GB) and screen resolution (1,280x800). AT&T touts the Trek's ability to toggle between being a wireless hotspot with a single touch, though Verizon could argue that it has the top wireless network in the United States.

After announcing a fairly high price for the Ellipsis at launch -- $149.99 with a two-year agreement or $249.99 outright for what amounts to not much more than an entry-level Android tablet -- Verizon has come to its senses and cut the pricing down to a much more affordable $49.99 with the two-year contract or $10.41 per month on its Edge device plan. (The $249.99 one-time purchase price still remains.)

The Trek matches that with a $49.99 price with two-year commitment, or $10 per month on a 20-month installment plan. If you want to buy it outright, it's $50 cheaper than the Ellipsis. With either carrier, you'll need to tack on an additional monthly fee in order to take advantage of the LTE network. Still, the branded tablets can be a cheaper option than the other models Verizon and AT&T sell. For instance, the premium 8-inch Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 runs $199.99 or $179.99 with a two-year contract through AT&T and Verizon, respectively.

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