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Posted at 9:09 PM ET, 01/ 6/2011

A closer look at Motorola's Xoom tablet

By Rob Pegoraro

LAS VEGAS --The most promising iPad competitor at CES may be Motorola's Xoom, but it's a little too soon to write that in pen instead of pencil.

I got a quick tour of this Android tablet computer at Motorola's booth this afternoon that both outlined what could make it an effective rival to Apple's bestseller and left reasons to think it might not do the trick.

motorola_xoom_ces.jpg

In its favor, the 1.5-lb. Xoom--pronounced "zoom" and written by Motorola in all-caps--offers a slightly larger screen than the iPad, at 10.1 inches versus the Apple tablet's 9.7, and with a higher 1280-by-720 pixel resolution than the iPad's 1024-by-768 resolution. It includes both a 2-megapixel camera on the front and a 5-MP camera on the back, combined with Google's own Google Talk video-calling software built in. That should be a step up from the third-party applications and services bundled by other vendors.

(Skype announced today that it will buy the best-known developer of Android video-calling software, Qik.)

The Xoom, due sometime in the first quarter of this year, also includes standard micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports for easy connections to computers and TVs. The first version leaves out the usually standard microSD Card slot, although a successor model due in the second quarter of the year will add that. Product manager Arthur Baudo said its battery should play 10 hours of video on a charge.

Verizon Wireless will start with an exclusive on the tablet, selling a version with 3G and WiFi. At some point, you'll be able to upgrade that to its 4G "LTE" network through an in-store procedure.

But then there are the things I didn't know after the demo. The big one is Verizon's price, both for the device and for service afterward. The carrier isn't saying. If it follows the strategy it's employed with Samsung's Galaxy Tab--which barely beats the price of the 3G version of the iPad but comes shackled to an obtuse set of mobile-broadband price plans--that won't be doing this tablet any favors.

Baudo wouldn't say if Motorola plans to ship versions for other carriers or sell a WiFi-only model direct to customers, but the company will obviously do the latter at some point. It would be crazy not to. Uh, right?

One other aspect of the Xoom should clear up soon enough: Its software. It runs the 3.0 version of Android, nicknamed "Honeycomb" by Google, which is the first version written with tablets in mind. The display unit I inspected did not have Honeycomb open for inspection, instead playing a highlight reel of screen shots and videos. From what I could see of them and what others have written, Honeycomb should be a major step forward in usability and elegance.

Expect other Honeycomb tablets, but you may have to wait longer for details on them. The G-Slate LG is making for T-Mobile, for example, is nowhere to be seen on the show floor here after an introduction at the carrier's press conference.

What would you want out of an Android tablet? What if Apple delivers those features first in an increasingly likely revision of its iPad first?

(1/7, 8:20 a.m. PST: Yes, I really did manage to misspell "Motorola" in the headline, and nobody caught it before posting. In future posts on wireless vendors, I will try to avoid comparable misspellings like "Samsnug" or "HCT.")

By Rob Pegoraro  | January 6, 2011; 9:09 PM ET
Categories:  Tablets  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: CES 2011: Verizon announces 4G smartphones, tablets, and hotspot
Next: Lady Gaga, Polaroid announce Grey Label line

Comments

I believe the iPad will have cameras in its next iteration. The only other lust worthy feature the Xoom will allegedly have in my opinion is 1280p HD. But, on the other hand, it will not be able to stream like the IPad can.

Posted by: query0 | January 6, 2011 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I believe the iPad will have cameras in its next iteration. The only other lust worthy feature the Xoom will allegedly have in my opinion is 1280p HD. But, on the other hand, it will not be able to stream like the IPad can.

Posted by: query0 | January 6, 2011 9:39 PM | Report abuse

1080p resolution is a must.

Posted by: kritik1 | January 7, 2011 1:47 AM | Report abuse

But, in any case, iPad will dominate in 2011. iPad 2 is coming and will undoubtedly be spectacular.
What the Linux and Windows fanatics think does not matter, the mainstream will buy iPad.
well, you should know that now there are how many people are keeping iPad and watching their movies and videos, though it lack of flash support, but with tools like iFunia iPad converter, all are on the go! And the number must be bigger and bigger~

P.S. watch movies and vieos on iPad freely:
http://www.ifunia.com/ipad-column/index.html

Posted by: Jane551 | January 7, 2011 1:54 AM | Report abuse

Morotola?? Is that a new Japanese version of Motorola? Just asking. Where's your editor, still hungover from the holiday?

Posted by: leondurupt | January 7, 2011 2:30 AM | Report abuse

I really think that the Xoom will give the iPad serious competition. It's not just because it's by Motorola, who has been very successful with their Android line of devices, but more because of the new Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS.

In a year or two, we will be talking about how Android tablets have passed iPad tablets in the US.

To keep up with the Xoom and Android 3.0, visit http://www.xoomblog.com

Posted by: XoomBlog | January 7, 2011 4:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm actually fairly happy with my Nook Color. Very handy while I was on vacation over Christmas. Nice video playback capabilities. Plan to root it this weekend.

Posted by: wiredog | January 7, 2011 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Apple has the advantage of rabid fans who will stand on line for the iwidget2 even before completing the purchase of the previous generation, the iwidget1. Android has the advantage of fans who will buy whichever Android device happens be in vogue in the moment independent of brand.

Each has it's own validity. If you prefer the toy itself, Apple is the way to go currently; if you prefer the technology as the toy than it's Android.

Posted by: lennyp | January 7, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

If there is not an option to purchase this product without a 2-yr commitment to Verizon, then, sadly, this product will be toast. Seeing "Verizon" emblazoned across the face of the tablet does not fill me with hope.

Posted by: P-Funk2002 | January 7, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Rob about Verizon's bizarre pricing scheme for the Galaxy Tab. If it has been set up like a smart phone with unlimited data at $30 a month, and could place phone calls, I would have bought the Samsung tablet last month. Verizon, my carrier, shot themselves in the foot with the Galaxy Tab arrangement and I hope they don't repeat it on the XOOM. Set it up like a big Driod X (say, Droid 10") and I will get one.

Posted by: larry9 | January 7, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The Moto Atrix gives me the first glimpse of my perfect device. Except lose the keyboard. I want a tablet about the size of an regular piece of paper, 8.5x11, obviously thicker and heavier of course. Under 16oz please. Then I want a phone that's about the size of a 3x5 index card (we're getting close to the with DroidX etc.), weight

The O/S would automatically detect that it has been inserted into the tablet and enable tablet features, utilization of larger screen etc. All the compute power would be in the phone, the tablet would only need video accelarator, additional storage. Auto or manually sync files, outlook, exchange or whatever.

If you build it I will buy it :-)
Let me know when it's available...

Posted by: Dudlio | January 7, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Why do I get so frustrated at the pure stupidity of Mac heads. I mean if they choose to be lead around by the nose by their Messiah Jobs, wfd does it make to me! I guess it is the fact that they act kind of like Tom Cruise and the Scientologists. "We're really cool and if you wanna be as cool as us you should be a Scientologist." Don't get me wrong, Apple and Jobs make awesome products for the most part. I just won't be told by Job's and his cronies what is best for me. I guess if you are a liberal you are all in favor of others telling you what is best for you. But I will make my own mistakes and live with them. Thanks you very much!

Posted by: gsutton57 | January 7, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The Moto Atrix gives me the first glimpse of my perfect device. Except lose the keyboard. I want a tablet about the size of an regular piece of paper, 8.5x11, obviously thicker and heavier of course. Under 16oz please. Then I want a phone that's about the size of a 3x5 index card (we're getting close to the with DroidX etc.), weight

The O/S would automatically detect that it has been inserted into the tablet and enable tablet features, utilization of larger screen etc. All the compute power would be in the phone, the tablet would only need video accelarator, additional storage. Auto or manually sync files, outlook, exchange or whatever.

If you build it I will buy it :-)
Let me know when it's available...

Posted by: Dudlio | January 7, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

When there's a wifi-only XOOM with an SD (sdXc?!) slot and no contract, I'll trample little old ladies and orphans on my way to the store to pick one up. The highest possible resolution, up to 1920x1080, would be gravy.

Posted by: hayesap8 | January 7, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

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