Sure, the Motorola XOOM has a microSD card slot. But since it's not currently enabled for end user use one has to make due with the 32GB of on board storage that Motorola has included. Although if you're looking to expand upon that 32GB or want to use a USB keyboard, a method of enabling USB host capabilities on the Motorola XOOM is available to anyone who is either wanting to -- or already has rooted their device. You'll need to follow the instructions carefully and need an OTG cable in order for it to work but that's all minor pieces of the puzzle at this point. The hard work has already been laid out for you. So how is it done? Jump on past the break to find out for yourself. [SlateDroid] Thanks, djunio for sending this in!

Pre-requisites: You need the device rooted and unlocked, to use this. Details on how to do that are here

You also need an OTG Cable that will work with the Xoom. I have this exact cable, and it is working with my device

Instructions as taken from source:

Very similar to rooting the device. Extract the img file from the ZIP above, and place it in the same folder as your adb and fastboot binaries. Then, run this:

  • adb reboot bootloader - (reboots into the bootloader)
  • fastboot flash boot rootboot.usbdisk.img - (which loads the new boot.img onto the system)
  • fastboot reboot- (Reboots the device)

Lastly -- using adb or root explorer, you need to alter your /etc/vold.fstab by adding this line to it: dev_mount usbdisk /mnt/usbdisk auto /devices/platform/tegra-ehci

This tells VOLD where to mount the device, when it's plugged in. After the change, you need to reboot. The altered boot.img adds a folder called /usbdisk, so that way if you connect a USB thumb drive using the cable I linked to above, it will automount the thumb drive and you can access files. I tested this with an HP 125W FAT32 8GB thumb drive, and it worked without an issue. The only caveat I can think of is that YMMV on thumb drives - some might require more power than the Xoom can supply.

 
There are 12 comments

Jonno says:

That last sentence is what I'm most curious about. Will this work if I have a external USB hard drive that is powered by the host USB port. I use a Western Digital Passport Essential SE.

E_man says:

USB HDD's can be pretty power intensive. You can try, but I'd be surprised if it worked.

Jonno says:

If there is not enough power, maybe a powered USB hub can help power the external drive. It's got me thinking now.

I doubt it would work to provide power and functionality at the same time. Even if it did, it would KILL your battery so quickly!

aspenman says:

I use this USB host cable and it works great (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005GGBYJ4?ie=UTF8&seller=A76FR6O1NBAXV...). Have tested it with my 750gb Oyen and 320gb WD Passport esternal HDD's, several usb flash drives (8-16gb), San disk USB memory card reader, and a USB keyboard.

For those having issues getting their Xoom to recognize USB storage devices here's what I've got and did to get it to work: I flashed my XOOM (3.1) to the 2.6.36.4 Tiamat_Xoom-v1.4.4-Full_Throttle Kernel and was unable to get the USBMount to recognize drives or storage at first. I installed USB Mass Storage Watcher from the market (it's free: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.skidmrk.umswatcherotg) and it works awesome!

Can mount any storage I want (NTFS, FAT16/32, HFS, HFS+, EXT2, ETX3, EXT4) with any capacity. I think this app will work with any rooted Xoom (or other devices). Under my Kernel my USB host is located under/usbOTG.

Hope this helps.

E_man says:

I was under the impression it was already enabled. What is the port there for then, without rooting? Mice/KB only?

dewilso4 says:

ummm....so you can connect the Xoom to your computer.

This "hack" is to allow the Xoom to support on-the-go (OTG), which is a USB specification allowing for a device to operate in both "device (peripheral) mode" and "host mode". The Xoom is in device mode when you connect it to your computer (i.e. the USB ID pin becomes grounded, which is defined in the USB OTG spec as "device mode"), and, with this hack, it will operate in host mode when you connect an external device, like a USB key, because the device (well, actually, the cable in this instance) connects the USB ID pin to VBUS (again, defined in the spec). This is also why a special cable is required, since most USB connectors don't have a USB ID pin (i.e. pre-OTG or pre-3.0 USB devices).

deercreek says:

Nice! I wish I could do this with my Droid X.

Originalme8 says:

Does this wipe all data like the root img did?

leram84 says:

is this going to be released through the market at some point, or is this kind of functionality only possible through root?
and i would also like to know about the external hdd. that is one of the most important features to me, and its y i went w android over ios, cause i thougth i would be able to hook up an external to play my movies

kevinlee says:

My USB OTG cable just arrived today and boy was I surprised !!!

1. Plugged in a Trescend 4GB Memory stick and it worked.

2. Plugged in a Trascend USB card reader with a SanDisk 4GB CF Card and it worked.

3. Plugged in my Sony NEX-5 camera and it worked. However, nothing automatically launched. I had to use a file manager to access the files within the folder \mnt\usbOTG. The same applies to the above.

4. Plugged in my Canon 7D camera and nothing, absolutely nothing. The camera didn't respond either. The camera's screen usually blacks out when it gets connected to a PC. But this isn't important as I can use a card reader to get access to the files on the CF Card. It's much quicker too as the camera's USB port is quite slow.

5. Plugged in a Microsoft USB mouse and the screen showed up a pointer arrow and it worked just like a PC.

6. Plugged in a Dell USB keyboard and tried typing something and it worked.

To those interested, I'm using Astro File Manager v2.5.2 on my Xoom to get access to the files from the folder \mnt\usbOTG

My Android version is 3.1

Kernel version is 2.6.36.3-gc2bee64

Build number is HMJ37

The Xoom has been rooted to boot up from a US stock android ROM.

One more note about USB OTG. I had to reboot the Xoom once as the mount was stuck after changing from USB memory stick to CF card on a USB card reader. After the reboot, everything went well.

This stupid Motorola company should have included this OTG cable in the first place. Not for the extra cost of including one (less than US$1) but for the convenience it brings to their customers and having an edge over other Pads. I'd bet you 95% of their Xoom customers don't even know such a thing existed!!! If it wasn't for the XDA forum, I wouldn't have thought of using the USB port as a host port.

For most, choosing an Android over an iPad is an absolute right move. The options on Android devices are endless. Sorry to say but Apple sucks and Android rules !!! One word of caution is not to choose Motorola again if you can't handle rooting. This company sucks at customer service. They expect us to DIY everything after we purchase it.

So I wish you all good luck with rooting your Xoom and upgrading it. For me, it was well worth the effort.

XOOM Newbie says:

What the heck is all this "rooted" stuff... OTG, abm? etc.... I just bought a XOOM, and want to move my files around with a thumb drive, and maybe use a mouse with it... I have this cable that was old with the XOOM called OTG Host (No idea what that is) Anyone one have the simple-ton solution to this user-end stuff?