Saturday, 02 July 2011 13:07

Moto Xoom goes WiFi only, plus more four lttr wrds


Motorola's Android Honeycomb tablet, the Xoom, has finally been released in a cheaper Wi-Fi only version, on sale at the Wi-Fi-happy JB Hi-Fi - and other retailers.

With Motorola first having launched a 3G Android Honeycomb tablet while virtually all others released Wi-Fi only Honeycomb tablets instead, plenty have been wondering when a Wi-Fi only Xoom would arrive down under.

July 1 marked the date when Moto's Wi-Fi Xoom launched locally, with various retailers including JB Hi-Fi leading the charge to bring as many Android tablets to market as possible alongside Apple's still-hard-to-get iPad 2.

Indeed, as consumers wait for stocks of the iPad 2 to materialise at their favourite stores, Android Honeycomb tablet buyers-to-be should have no such problem, especially now that several have launched at last.

Heck, even RIM's BlackBerry Playbook has launched as currently the only tablet in Vodafone stores, joining the parade of Wi-Fi only tablets now on the market.

Naturally, Motorola's Wi-Fi Xoom is essentially identical to the 3G-enabled Xoom, except for the fact there's no 3G modem and SIM-card slot within.

Of course, with standalone portable Wi-Fi hotspots so popular, and most smartphones offering Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, having Wi-Fi only devices is no bad thing, and even means one less device with yet another monthly SIM to pay for.

That said, you will have to carry around said portable Wi-Fi hotspot, or chew through your smartphone's battery power to achieve the same thing, but with tech-savvier consumers used to such things, and with Apple's own Wi-Fi only iDevices being successful, there's no reason why Android cannot duplicate - or try to duplicate - Apple's success.

Motorola's Wi-Fi Xoom press release goes over the now familiar Honeycomb tablet territory - an interactive, customisable homescreen with moveable widgets, notifications, tabbed browsing, HDMI out with full mirroring, front and back facing cameras at many megapixels more than Apple's iPad 2, a 1280x800 resolution 10.1-inch screen, 32GB RAM, Android Honeycomb OS 3.1 which now includes Bluetooth Mouse support, a functioning MicroSD slot, Bluetooth, USB and more.

So, what else is within, and what will the Wi-Fi only Xoom sell for at retail?

Please read on to page two!

Motorola also reminds us of some of Honeycomb's features. 

The Xoom Wi-Fi offers 'improved multi-tasking providing instant visual access to a larger number of applications', a 'resizable home screen widgets for Gmail, Calendar and Browser', 'both keyboard and mouse support, which allows simultaneous input for devices over Bluetooth (in any combination' and 'support for most PC joysticks and gamepads that connect over USB or Bluetooth'.

There's also 'picture transfer directly from camera, so users can connect their cameras over USB and import their pictures to the Gallery with a single touch', a 'new high-performance Wi-Fi lock lets applications maintain high-performance Wi-Fi connections even when the device screen is off', and the pre-loading of a File Manager and Adobe's Flash Player, presumably version 10.3.something.

Timo Brouwer, Motorola Mobility ANZ and South Pacific's MD said: 'The Motorola XOOM continues to be a great success for Motorola and we wanted to add to our portfolio the WiFi variant to give consumers a choice.

'The introduction of Android 3.1 provides new and existing users with an extensive range of innovative features that deliver even more unique ways to have fun, connect with friends and stay productive while on the go', concluded Mr Brouwer.

JB Hi-Fi's Marketing Director, Scott Browning, added that: 'The Motorola XOOM has been greatly received by both consumers and commentators since its launch in May and so we're delighted to be able to broaden our customers' choice by stocking the Motorola XOOM WiFi.'

Available for AUD $689 for the 32GB Xoom Wi-Fi, Motorola promises that the 3G version sold by Telstra will also get the 3.1 Honeycomb update 'as a download over 3G, WiFi or via the Motorola website' sometime this month in July.

Motorola also advises that as the 3.1 update activates the MicroSD card slot, both Wi-Fi and 3G Xoom users will gain 'more flexibility in managing storage and the ability to expand the memory of their Motorola Xoom up to 64GB with the addition of a 32GB Micro SD card'.

About the only thing I haven't heard from Motorola as yet is a Charlie Sheen-esque declaration of 'Xoom'¦ #Winning!', but if sales of its Wi-Fi model prove as popular or even more-so than the Telstra 3G version, Moto's Mr Brouwer may well utter it yet.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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