First things first! Did you see the Motorola Xoom ad during the Super Bowl last night? If not, here it is.
You’ll notice that Motorola’s taking a shot at Apple users, which seems like kind of an odd choice considering someone who might be interested in the iPad fits roughly the same demographic as a potential Xoom owner.
Secondly, earlier rumors had indicated that the Xoom may have been available on February 17th with a price tag of $700. It now appears, according to a Best Buy ad apparently leaked to Engadget, that the Xoom will be available on February 24th with a price tag of $800.
As far as specs go, the Xoom lines up most closely with the 32GB version of the 3G+Wi-Fi iPad that costs $729. Your extra $71 gets you a dual-core processor, a slightly larger screen size with a higher resolution, four times as much RAM, front- and rear-facing cameras, expandable storage, and the ability to work on Verizon’s new high-speed 4G network via a future update.
See this previous post for a comparison between the iPad and the Xoom.
From the looks of the ad, it appears that you won’t have to agree to any sort of long-term Verizon data contract in order to get the Xoom for $800. However—and this is just plain weird—the ad’s fine print indicates that in order to activate the Wi-Fi chip inside the tablet, you’ll apparently have to pay for one month of Verizon data starting at $20.
Basically, if you want to use the Xoom as a Wi-Fi-only tablet, you’ll have to pony up $20 to unlock it. Again, that’s just weird.
As the first Android 3.0 tablet (Google’s mobile operating system designed specifically for tablets), the Motorola Xoom certainly seems compelling if only because of its impressive hardware specs. An $800 price tag already makes it a tough sell, though, and people aren’t going to take kindly to being required to pay $20 to Verizon so they can use the Wi-Fi chip.
If I may make a not-so-bold prediction: the first well-designed Wi-Fi-only Android 3.0 tablet to come out from a major manufacturer with a starting price of under $500 gets to enjoy some decent sales numbers. Stuffing more technology into a tablet and pricing it at $800 (like Motorola’s doing) may appeal to a small subset of power users but most “regular” people likely opt for the $499 iPad based almost purely on price.
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