Verizon to Offer Wide Tablet Choices with Motorola Xoom Release

News Analysis: Verizon will make the much-anticipated Motorola Xoom even more attractive to consumers by offering it with or without a two-year contract.

Verizon Wireless will be making the Motorola Xoom tablet available for sale in Verizon stores and online on Feb. 24. The new tablets, which were announced in a Super Bowl TV commercial that harked back to Apple's famed 1984 Macintosh advertisement, also demonstrated features that aren't available on the Xoom's direct competition, the Apple iPad. The Xoom will be available for $599.99 with a two-year contract and for $799.99 without a contract.

Initially, the Xoom will run on the Verizon Wireless 3G network, but will be upgraded to 4G LTE during 2011 second quarter at no cost. Presumably this will be an over-the-air software upgrade, but Verizon Wireless has been unable to confirm that. The Xoom runs Google's Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system. Unlike the current version of the Apple iPad, the Xoom features two cameras, one outward-facing 5-megapixel HD camera and one inward-facing 2-megapixel camera for video conferencing. Also unlike the iPad, the Xoom supports tabbed browsing and Adobe Flash.

The Xoom's multitouch display is more flexible than the version that's currently available for the iPad. For example, you can use your fingers to rotate the screen image to whatever position you want, without having to physically rotate the device. The device features a 1GHz dual-core processor and a 10.1-inch display.

By offering the Xoom, Verizon Wireless becomes a central source for tablet devices. The company has already been selling a Galaxy Tab device, and it recently started selling Apple iPads with a bundled MiFi mobile hot spot for about the same price as the Xoom. As a result, you can get pretty much anything you want in terms of tablets from Verizon Wireless, unless it's a WebOS tablet because that one isn't shipping at all, to anybody.

While we don't know yet whether Verizon Wireless will also land a version of the Hewlett-Packard tablet when it comes out, it seems that the company is making a strong play to be all things to all tablet buyers. About the only thing the company lacks in its offerings is a tablet for people who travel outside the United States. At this point, when I go to CeBIT next week, I'd only be able to use one of their tablets where I could find WiFi. Of course, this isn't a huge sacrifice, since my iPad is also WiFi-only. I wasn't about to sign up for AT&T's 3G when I can't get its 3G in my home of office.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...