Verizon Wireless already sells Apple's iPad, but that's not keeping the carrier from pushing the latest Android-powered tablet device. Verizon and Motorola will debut the Xoom tablet on Thursday.
The Xoom is coming to market with bragging rights. The tablet won the CNET Best of Show award at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year for being "the most potentially disruptive technology." It's the first to run on the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, and it's compatible with Verizon's upcoming 4G LTE network.
"This is a Honeycomb tablet, so this is the first Android device with an operating system designed specifically for larger screen sizes," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "It's also got a dual core processor. It's got two cameras. It's full-sized, unlike some of the seven-inch display models that are on the market today with an earlier version of Android on it. So technically it specs out fairly well."
An Expensive iPad killer?
The Honeycomb user experience improves on Android functions likes widgets, multitasking, browsing, notifications and customization, and features the latest Google Mobile innovations. The Xoom offers a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display, supports 1080p HD video and HDMI output to display content on larger HD screens, and plays video and other rich web content with Adobe Flash Player.
The Motorola Xoom features a front-facing two-megapixel camera for video chats over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G LTE, and a rear-facing five-megapixel camera that captures video in 720p HD. It also offers a built-in gyroscope, barometer, e-compass, accelerometer and adaptive lighting for new types of applications. Google Maps 5.0 with 3D interaction is included, as well as access to more than three million Google e-books and thousands of apps from the Android Market.
"The down side is that it's very expensive. It's not that you can't buy an iPad that costs the same amount of money or more," Greengart said. "It's that Apple also has lower-priced models in the line. So this is appealing to a very specific customer -- someone who is an early adopter that is looking for a high-end device and is willing to pay accordingly."
Upgrading To 4G
The Motorola Xoom will be available for purchase from Verizon for $599.99 with a new two-year customer agreement, or $799.99 without a contract. Wireless 3G service for the Xoom will begin at $20 monthly for 1GB. The Xoom will be upgradeable to 4G LTE service in the second quarter.
"Even though this is on the expensive side in terms of hardware, they did announce it will be upgradeable in the next few months to LTE at no charge," Greengart said. "That will make this extremely fast from a network perspective. Verizon hasn't announced service pricing, but at least they've said if you spend money on the hardware you don't have to spend again when it's time for the upgrade from CDMA to LTE."