Will pricing in the stratosphere for HTC's Jetstream tablet mean an early fizzle?

AT&T announced it will begin offering an LTE-enabled HTC media tablet this weekend to its US audience. The device, dubbed "HTC Jetstream", appears competitive in terms of its specifications - a dual-core processor, Android Honeycomb OS, and 10.1" display. Should everyone go out and buy one when it hits AT&T retail shelves this weekend? No, there are a few caveats to consider.

If you're considering this tablet because of its potential for high-speed LTE wireless networking on-the-go, remember that AT&T has yet to launch an LTE service in the US. Perhaps it will start soon, but will it be available where you live and intend to use the device? The media tablet also includes HSPA+ support (what AT&T and T-Mobile USA each call their "4G" networks) in areas where LTE isn't offered, so all is not lost if you choose to be the first to try the Jetstream.

Pricing for the Jetstream is clearly a move to recoup AT&T's investment in the LTE mobile broadband network though a lack of real-world performance messaging and "why HTC" is sorely missing in the operator's promotion. The device, when purchased with a 2-year service contract, comes in at $700. A comparable iPad 2 with 32GB ofstorage and an HSPA (AT&T) or EV-DO rev.A (Verizon Wireless) modem is $729 without any operator subsidy.

What is the right price for a media tablet? The average selling price in 2010 was under $500 in the US for the hardware (not discounting for any subsidies or incentives). We also know that media tablets fly off shelves for $99, though HP in this example was liquidating its webOS-based TouchPad. The sweet spot for media tablet pricing lays somewhere in between.

It sounds like a good device and jumping right to an LTE modem will offer some future-proofing for mobile broadband performance. The device price and thelack of an LTE network to connectnow suggest putting this media tablet on a wish list for the holidays rather than on a credit card today.