Seeking to redeem itself after its first Android tablet failed to gain traction, Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI) has again teamed up with Verizon Wireless to sell a tablet based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Honeycomb operating system--two of them, actually.
Verizon this month will begin selling the 10.1-inch and 8.2-inch Motorola Droid Xyboard tablets, which are based on the Honeycomb 3.2 operating system and run on the carrier's 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network. Motorola introduced the tablets in the U.K. and Ireland as the Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition last month.
Importantly, the two tablets will be upgraded to the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) build next year, which will be a major consideration for prospective tablet buyers who want to make sure they get the freshest OS. ICS borrows functionality from both the Android smartphone and Honeycomb tablet branches.
Each of the Xyboards is powered by dual-core, 1.2 GHz processors and 1GB of RAM, with scratch-resistant and water repellent, IPS (In-Plane Switching) displays constructed with Corning's resilient Gorilla Glass. The slates are encased in magnesium-reinforced bodies with aluminum housing, according to a Verizon statement.
Both slates are fitted with 5 megapixel, rear-facing HD cameras and 1.3 megapixel HD shutters in the front for video chat. Both tablets will also have enterprise features, such as QuickOffice and Citrix, as well as more consumer-friendly features such as MotoCast, which provides remote access to music, pictures, videos and documents stored on computers.
The Dijit lets TV watchers use their Xyboard as a universal remote contrl for TVs, Blu-ray players and digital video recorders (DVRs).
However, Motorola and Verizon envision difference uses for the tablets. Verizon said the Droid Xyboard 10.1 includes a "precision tip" stylus for simple note-taking--in other words, a productivity tool.
The Xyboard 8.2, meanwhile, is something of a portable entertainment machine, offering adaptive virtual surround sound and a high-definition display for "Netflix movies in up to HD quality, concert-like music and serious gaming."
The Xyboard 10.1 will be available in three models, starting at $529.99 for 16GB , $629.99 for $32GB and $729.99 for 64GB of data, all with a two-year data deal. The Xyboard 8.2 will be available in 16GB for $429.99 and a 32GB flavor for $529.99, both with contracts. Verizon's mobile broadband data deals cost $30 a month for 2GB of data.
The Xyboards are Motorola's first tablets since the company was the first Android OEM out of the gate with a Honeycomb tablet last February . The Xoom did OK at first, but the early Honeycomb build proved buggy and demand for the slate waned.
Motorola sold only 200,000 Xoom units in the last quarter, dismal sales that put it on par with Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) languishing BlackBerry PlayBook. Motorola just heavily discounted its Xoom 4G LTE slate from $499.99 to $199.99 for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
These new Xyboard devices appear to follow Samsung's more successful model of selling Honeycomb slates with different screen sizes. Samsung offers the 10.1, 8.9, 7.7 and 7.0-inch Galaxy Tabs in the United States.
Both Motorola and Samsung would love to gain headway in the tablet market versus Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, which has set the bar high enroute to selling more than 32 million units since its launch.