The first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet hits stores Thursday
for $600 -- and missing a couple of popular features

Motorola Xoom

The Motorola Xoom (or XOOM for you brand-conscious folks) is the first of the next generation of Android tablets to hit the market. It runs the new Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" version of the operating system, which was tailor-made for larger screens.

If you're just catching up, here's the deal: The Motorola Xoom goes on sale tomorrow, Feb. 24. It's a 10.1-inch Android tablet with a 1280x800 resolution display, powered by the new Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. And it's a dual-core processor at that, much like what you'd find in many laptops today. That means it can do more things at once -- like rendering graphics or outputting video -- and not have to work as hard to do it. And that means better battery life.

Other hardware specs you need to know are 32GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, a 5MP camera on the back and a 2MP camera on the front for video calling. The rear camera will record in 720p high-definition, and the Xoom can connect to your television and output movies in full 1080p.

And the Xoom is pretty darn good, too. We first got a look at it at CES in January, got some more time with it at Google's Honeycomb event earlier this month, and again (in silver!) at MWC in Spain. It's a fine piece of hardware -- albeit a tad heavy at 26 ounces -- and it's going to be plenty snappy on Verizon's 3G network.

But the Xoom also will eventually be able to take advantage of Verizon's new 4G LTE network, with really fast data speeds. It's not launching with 4G (though it does have 802.11 b/g/n Wifi for when you're near a hotspot), but it'll be upgradeable in about three months, according to an unofficial screen shot. The really bad news is that you'll have to physically send your Xoom to Motorola to be upgraded -- it's not just a software thing. That's pretty much unheard of for any smartphone or tablet, and  we've got our fingers crossed that it doesn't become a logistical nightmare.

To hear Verizon talk (erm, Tweet) about it, that the Motorola Xoom tablet will have to be taken into the shop (for free!) to be upgraded to LTE is a feature waiting to happen, not a feature missing at launch. Maybe our glass is half empty, but we're not exactly looking forward to handing over new our $600 (or $800 off contract) tablet for a week's worth of work. On the other hand, it is free, and we're very much fans of Verizon's LTE data speeds thus far.

And speaking of features we really expected the Xoom to have -- Adobe Flash is missing, but it should be available in a few short weeks.

That's not to say the Xoom is a disappointment -- far from it. The LTE upgrade's going to be a hassle, but it's coming. And Flash will be here in short order. Other than that, we've been very impressed with the Xoom.

But at this point, the same old tablet question remains: For $600 (or $800) do you really need that form factor? And does the prospect of having to physically send away your Xoom for an LTE upgrade make you want to hold off? We'll find out this week as they finally go on sale nationwide.

 

Reader comments

Thinking of buying a Motorola Xoom? Here's what you need to know

34 Comments

There should be an option for "No. I don't have $800 to spend on a giant cellphone."

I mean I love android, and I love my Epic 4G, but for $800, I'd be buying myself a decent new laptop.

Think im wait for a lower priced wifi only version. Hopefully with all the features listed included.

The question missing from the poll is "Not yet. Waiting for the wi-fi-only model"

I think many people (like me) fit into this category.

Yup. I'm getting the WiFi version so LTE doesn't matter and I can wait for Flash (doubt it'll be that long anyway).

From what I've heard, you can download 10.1 from the market. Althought it's yet to be seen if the performance is gonna be optimized for the tablet

Ditto. Not sure why they didn't include that option in the poll.

I'm definitely getting the XOOM, but the "wi-fi only" version. So I'm not going to vote until that option is there.

I've got horrible experiences with my Motorola cliq XT because they are not exact 'open source' about their android phones. Personally, I will probably wait until later this year and buy a cheap Chinese tablet for less than $200 or pay a little more for an HTC tablet.

No thanks. I'll take the HTC tablet instead. Not spending $800 bucks on a tablet that can't out perform a netbook for most tasks. Sorry.

Yes, it is a little small, but if you check out the website Anandtech, they did a battery life test on the Xoom vs iPad. They tested the 3G web surfing and the little battery actually BEAT the iPad's huge battery by a little. Browsing the web over Wi-Fi it only lost by a few minutes.

What this means, is that even with a battery half the size of the iPad, with a dual core processor, and some processes running in the background, the Xoom was able to match the battery life of the iPad with a batter half the size. So the Xoom is more powerful, more efficient, and will charge it's battery in half the time compared to the iPad.

Sounds pretty good to me.

Are you kidding me? You have send your Xoom in to get the 4G radio's put in with supposedly a 6 day turnaround? That is just dumb. Why couldn't they just delay the think until they could put the 4G radios in?

First of all its no where near a "giant cellphone" but yes, I will get this when the wifi version is released. Ill tether it to my 4g evo. I'm sure big reds speeds are impressive but I'm just fine with 6mbps which is what my evo gets now. Faster than my 3 down att wifi btw!

Considering that I paid 300 for my HP dm3 ultra Mobil laptop a few months ago this seems kind of pointless. I don't need a tablet at least not for these prices.

Ideally what would have been the right thing to do is release the WIFI only models first... obviously the 3G/4G isn't ready.

So hold off on the data plan tablets... then just charge $50 to send in the Xoom to Motorola and get the 3G/4G hardware installed and sent back.

That way you have to pay more for the 3G/4G and you remove all the hassels of it and make a lot more people happy by releasing what people really want right away... which is the WIFI only version.

I'm an early adopter so I'm getting it tomorrow but think that's would've been the ideal way to handle this.

Yea I agree there should be a WiFi option in the poll cuz that's what I'm getting anyways. Also hoping the spec sheet isn't gonna disappoint.

Would dare spend this much money on this thing that almost weighs 2 pounds. This is laughable price!!! Should have made a more affordable model just to enter the market with a bang. I'll be getting a more portable and speedier Playbook. This is only because HP is garbage bringing a product to market and this bulky thing is nearly worth a grand. SMH at Motorola!!

It weighs 1.62 pounds (iPad at 1.5 pounds) which is a negligible weight difference considering this is 10.1" compared to 9.7". And the price is very comparable to the iPad... Have you played with a 7" tablet??? It's tiny!! and the playbook is a ripoff of WebOS.

Yes I have play with a 7 inch tablet and to me that makes the experience a whole lot better because its more mobile. My girlfriend carrys the Galaxy in her purse and doesn't know its there. You are right about the Playbook but it seems the best thing on the market at a very good price point. I wanted to wait for HP but they are LAME..Summer time really??? And its already behind in specs..lol

When I see a tablet price tag and think to myself 'i could buy a really nice laptop for that' that's when I know it costs too much. Compare those specs to a laptop with dual core cpu, 4gb ram, 500gb storage, switchable graphics, etc. different form factor, I know, but you can do so much more with a full fledged lappy.

Ok I've held off on the tablet rant till all (or most) of the facts were in and here's my take. The anger of the price of the Xoom in comparison to anything else laptop or ipad wise alike is kinda ridiculous to me.

When you goto to a gas station there's a warm 2 liter of soda for .99 cents and then there's a 20 oz in the cooler for $1.79 Nobody HATES the soda company or the people who choose to buy the 20 oz. I know it's not an exact example put you see what I'm getting at.

well.. not the best example, $2 is not the same as $800+. a tablet isn't an impulse item like a can of soda. But I do agree that they're both overpriced. $.99 to $1.79 is ~55%, so a fair price for the xoom should be 55% of $800 (~$440) :P hey this is a good comparison!

I don't think tablets are useless the sales of the ipad have proven that, but I do think this level of cellular companies involvement is a bad move and horrible for the consumer. The only real downside I see to the Xoom is having to send it in for an hardware upgrade. That just doesn't sit right with me. The same way I can't access my battery on apple products. other than that the 32 Gig ipad and xoom ARE the same price when you consider the better hardware of the xoom. Heck i'd pay the extra 70 bucks for the cameras alone but your getting Tegra 2 dual core gig of Ram 1280x800 display those are major upgrades over the CURRENT 32gig ipad.

And last but not least one thing I've noticed about some of the other tabs HP, Playbook (Which I actually like alot) is that they're home screens just have app icons to me that's so counter productive for a tab. I mean imho honeycomb is the only interface doing it right. When you look at an ipad you have 9.7 inches of screen and you get no info just app icons to me that's just plain ridiculous.

Diddo on the nook color. Works fine for me. Don't need the cell capabilities because I can tether from my rooted incredible.

I agree that a 10 inch tablet isn't very portable unless you always have some sort of computer bag or brief case.

Also, remember if you're buying anything on launch day you are paying a lot of money to be a public beta tester. Obviously, that's the case here too since Xoom is being released incomplete. Rule of thumb; add six months to any launch date then purchase the item.

$600 even for wifi only is a ripoff. Notion Ink Adam is a very high quality product that is better than the Doom and is $ 375 for the wifi version. It can be done cheaper than ripoff Apple and Moto. The color Nook is $ 250. Let's get real.

How about poll entries for:

"I don't have a reason to comment, yet I do"
or
"I'm a weanie b!tch boy who comes online to comment on everything and don't buy a damn thing"
or
"Look at me mom, I just made a comment on the web!"

There's a few entries for consideration.