The most interesting thing about Motorola’s new Xoom tablet–which I reviewed for this week’s TIME.com Technologizer column and is available from Verizon dealers starting today–is that it’s the first tablet that runs Google’s new Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system. The second most interesting is the support for Verizon’s speedy LTE 4G network. And the third most interesting thing is that Motorola is going to provide the LTE support as a free upgrade–the Xooms arriving at stores today are 3G devices.
The upgrade isn’t a simple matter of installing a software patch: It’s a hardware swap that will become available in the second quarter of this year. Verizon has posted details on the process: It recommends, naturally, that you start by backing up your data. Then you box up the tablet in a package provided by the company and Fedex it off to Motorola. It’ll take up to six days until it comes back to you. (You don’t need to switch to an LTE plan when the Xoom becomes LTE-capable.)
If you’re absolutely itching to buy a Xoom right now, the fact that this upgrade will be available as a freebie is a point in its favor. But if you’re not frantic about the whole matter, the prospect of Xooms that are LTE ready right out of the box becoming available soon sounds like a reason to bide your time a bit longer–as does the promised availability of Flash “in a few weeks” and the impending availability of interesting Xoom competitors such as next week’s iPad 2 and the BlackBerry PlayBook. The longer you hold off buying a tablet, the better the choices are going to get.
And even if you are excited about the Xoom–which I liked overall when I tried it–you might consider the upgrade an argument in favor of waiting. I’ve owned beloved gadgets I’ve had to live without for a week while they went back to their makers for surgery, and parting with them even temporarily is always painful…