Wi-Fi-only tablets are pretty popular and for good reason. No one wants to pay for a second data plan just for their slate, and the hardware is cheaper if you get it without 3G/4G radios anyway. Seems like a win. Until you get out of your house and curse your disconnected device and its inability to Google Jeff Goldblum's height at the drop of a hat. Enter FreedomPop.
The service may not be new, but it is novel: 500MB of free data per month. That's it. The end. No strings. Oh, sure, there are overage fees. And you can pay to get more if you really want to. However, for the cost of a hotspot you can get a modicum of mobile data without the contract. It's a neat idea!
'But Eric,' I hear you cry. 'What if I want to take advantage of this great free service and attach a big ugly piece of hardware to my tablet?' I'm glad you asked, friend! Because FreedomPop—or perhaps more accurately, an image leaked on Forbes that allegedly comes from said company—has you covered! According to this report (which reads like an official announcement, though the information was apparently only disseminated to Forbes, which means this is a leak at best), the freemium carrier plans to release a new hotspot that attaches to the edge of your gorgeous Nexus 7, sullying an otherwise beautiful device like a singing scottish boil. It looks like this:
Yes, that is as big as we can make the image. To be honest, we're kind of hoping that this thing is fake because, while the concept behind FreedomPop is certainly great, a wireless hotspot has no need to be physically attached to a tablet. It looks weird, bulky, and the clip just adds moving parts that serve as little more than additional points of failure. The crazy thing is, if it were to break, you could just stick it in your pocket and it would still function like the other wireless hotspots the company sells. Of course, if this is cheaper than that model (which is "free" with a $99 deposit), then perhaps that's more of a selling point, however that was the one detail Forbes managed to leave out.
Still, setting aside the oddity of this clip (which, hey! Some people might like!), FreedomPop is certainly a service worth paying attention to. The company piggy backs off Sprint's 4G networks (yes, both of them) and all the coverage that entails. The Now Network still lags pretty far behind Verizon and AT&T in LTE coverage, but third isn't bad. Especially when you're paying the low cost of nothing for the data.