Motorola Xoom Teardown Reveals iPad-Competitor Hardware

Motorola's Xoom tablet boasts a powerful processor and other hardware components designed to make it a true Apple iPad competitor, according to a teardown.

Motorola's Xoom tablet has been touted as one of the first true Apple iPad competitors to hit the market, and a new teardown from analysis firm IHS iSuppli suggests the device contains exactly the sort of under-the-hood hardware to back up that assertion.

The 10.1-inch Xoom runs Google Android 3.0, codenamed "Honeycomb," which has been optimized for the tablet form-factor. It retails for $799 without a contract, or $599 with a two-year commitment to Verizon Wireless. However, there's a catch: Users who want their Xoom to run on the carrier's speedy 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network need to send the device back via a prepaid FedEx envelope, and then wait six business days for the upgrade.

"Unlike the iPad, the Xoom now comes in only one configuration, with 32GB of NAND storage," read the Feb. 25 note penned by Wayne Lam, senior analyst at IHS iSuppli. "However, the Xoom makes up for this lack of variety with its powerful dual-core Nvidia Corp. Tegra 2 apps processor, ample 1GB synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM) and loads of extra sensors."

While that dual-core design gives the Xoom a noted advantage when it comes to running software, the device lacks 4G components aside from a dummy miniPCIe card, which Lam termed "an obvious placeholder for the future LTE upgrade." In the meantime, Xoom owners need to send their tablet back to the factory to upgrade to 4G.

With an eye toward that future LTE upgrade, Xoom comes pre-installed with a SIM card slot and a pair of MIMO antennas. In addition, the tablet includes some other interesting features.

"The Motorola Xoom seems to be pushing the bounds for integrating a large number of sensors in a tablet," Lam's note added. Those include the CMOS image camera sensors, an electronic compass, a Bosch Sensortec pressure monitor, and both a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope.

IHS iSuppli expects to release a more detailed report, complete with a cost breakdown, in coming days. In the meantime, the Xoom seems to be earning relatively strong reviews in the wake of the Feb. 24 release.

"When you use the camera, for example, it anticipates that you'll be holding it in landscape mode with your right thumb on the screen, and it simulates the radial control dial of a real camera under your thumb," Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps wrote in a Feb. 24 corporate blog posting. "There are no awkward moments, as there were with earlier Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Dell Streak."

Much of the praise for the Xoom focuses on Android 3.0, although general consensus seems to condemn the tablet's high price. Motorola's momentum could also find itself blunted by Apple's March 2 media event in San Francisco, where many believe Apple will unveil the next-generation iPad.