WiFi-Only Xoom Offers Poor Trade-Offs

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-03-16 Print this article Print


5. No value to the enterprise

Enterprise customers who were thinking about buying a tablet would likely opt for the iPad 2 or the Motorola Xoom with 3G connectivity. That's a good idea. As mentioned, the upcoming Xoom model won't be able to connect to carrier networks. That means that if employees need to access the Web while on the go and away from a WiFi hot spot, they're out of luck. Such a productivity issue is a major problem for corporate customers.

6. It's the same device

Undoubtedly, there are some people who don't view a WiFi-only version of the Motorola Xoom as such a bad thing. Those folks feel that there might be other benefits to it. But the reality is, there isn't a single meaningful benefit to not having 3G. The device is still the same size, it's running the same software, and it offers the same functionality. It's the Motorola Xoom as it was known before, only without 3G. Other than saving some cash each month from data fees, there is no benefit to opting for the WiFi-only model over the 3G version.

7. More devices are coming

Whether it's the Motorola Xoom or the iPad 2, consumers and especially enterprise customers should consider the fact that they have nothing but time to get their hands on a tablet. Perhaps the best move now is to examine what's coming along in the next few months to determine which tablet is best. Motorola has showed its hand with both a 3G and WiFi version of the Xoom. Why not find out what others will offer?

8. Let the "Honeycomb" kinks get worked out

Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" is arguably the most exciting mobile operating system on the market. It comes with full tabbed browsing, improved multitasking, and a design that combines the virtues of both mobile operating systems and desktop PCs. It's also running on the Xoom. However, since the Xoom's launch, Honeycomb has been taking shots from critics. One such critic from Global Equities Research said in a statement recently that Honeycomb "is unstable and poorly designed." Others say Google didn't do enough testing on the OS before releasing it. Those issues should be kept in mind before customers run to buy the WiFi-only Xoom.

9. Some PCs are cheaper

At $599, the WiFi-only Motorola Xoom is priced in the middle of the tablet pack. But if budget-conscious customers are really looking for the best mobile device at the cheapest price, opting for a netbook or lightweight notebook might be a better option. In some cases, netbooks with 3G connectivity can be purchased for as little as $199. More capable models can be purchased for far less than $600. They won't deliver the flash of tablets, but they will likely offer more productivity than the WiFi-only Xoom.

10. The iPad 2 changes everything

As mentioned, the 32GB WiFi-only iPad 2 retails for the same price as Motorola's option. But there's more to that than just pricing. The iPad 2, which launched on March 11, has caught on in a big way with consumers. The device is sold out all over the United States and will likely remain so for weeks. It has set a new benchmark in the tablet space. And although the 3G Xoom has several improvements over Apple's offering, the mainstream still views the iPad 2 as the standard by which all others are judged. With only WiFi connectivity, it's tough to say whether Motorola's latest Xoom release can stand up to that. The 4G upgrade on the 3G Xoom is central to the device's value to customers. Without it in the WiFi-only model, the Xoom is little more than another iPad competitor that will have trouble keeping pace

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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