As the battle for control of the tablet market heats up, Best Buy released the preorder price for the Motorola Xoom tablet, which made its debut at last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The tablet, which runs on Google Android’s “Honeycomb” platform, carries a list price of $799.99, significantly higher than that of rival tablets like the Apple iPad, which starts at $500.
The Xoom offers a 1GHz dual-core processor and 10.1-inch widescreen HD display with 1,280-by-800 resolution to support HD video. It also boasts HDMI-out; a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera for 720p video capture and 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video chats; and a built-in gyroscope, barometer, e-compass, accelerometer and adaptive lighting. Honeycomb features the latest Google Mobile platforms such as Google Maps 5.0 with 3D interaction, and the tablet also supports Adobe Flash player.
Accessories include a standard dock for watching video content or listening to music through external speakers as the device charges, a speaker HD Dock for sending HD content directly to a TV or clearly listening to music through two built-in speakers, and a custom keyboard with Bluetooth wireless technology and special Android shortcut keys.
Over the course of the MWC conference, major electronics manufacturers showed off tablet computers, including Samsung, Acer LG and HTC. During the conference, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha confirmed the Xoom would cost $799 unsubsidized from Verizon Wireless later this month, with WiFi-only pricing around $600.
Samsung’s device includes an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with auto-focus and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera that lets users capture experiences with full HD record and play. With the Android Honeycomb browser and Flash 10.1 capability, the tablet also offers dual surround-sound speakers. The Tab 10.1, which boasts a 1GHz Dual Core application processor, low-power DDR2 memory and 6860mAh battery power, offers a large-screen alternative to the company’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab, launched late last year.
The Android platform took center stage at the conference, with Google CEO Eric Schmidt devoting time in his keynote presentation to demonstrate Android Honeycomb applications running on a Xoom tablet. During the first half of 2011, IT research firm Strategy Analytics expects the Android OS to continue accounting for larger portions of the market. Earlier this year, IDC forecast 44.6 million tablets to ship in 2011-with U.S. sales accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total-and grow to 70.8 million units in 2012.
However, the iPad is widely tapped to continue leading the tablet market in 2011, according to a January report from Forrester Research. Forrester analyst Sara Rotman Epps said she expects tablet sales to top 24.1 million, more than double the 10.3 million she estimates were sold through 2010. She said the lion’s share will be iPads in 2011 and even into 2012, citing interest in the upcoming iPad 2, rumored to have front- and rear-facing cameras.