Wi-Fi-only Xoom arrives in U.S. March 27 for $599

Flash Player will need to be downloaded from Android Market, Motorola says

Motorola Mobility announced today that its Wi-Fi-only Xoom tablet will hit the U.S. market on March 27 for $599 from a variety of retailers.

The Wi-Fi-only Xoom goes on sale march 27 in the U.S. for $599.

Xoom with Wi-Fi-only adds a critical missing element to the 10.1-in. Motorola tablet in its race against the Apple iPad 2. Xoom is currently available in the U.S. only with Wi-Fi+3G wireless on Verizon Wireless. But the iPad 2, which went on sale Friday as stock quickly depleted , comes both as a Wi-Fi-only device or as a Wi-Fi+3G device on Verizon or AT&T.

The Xoom went on sale Feb. 24 , but the early absence of a Wi-Fi-only model was cited by analysts as an obstacle to Xoom adoption, given the growing availability of Wi-Fi networks, both at home and in offices as well as schools and public places.

In other ways, the Xoom has won critical praise as a competitor against the iPad 2, since the Xoom has two cameras, uses Honeycomb, the new Android 3.0 operating system, and runs a 1GHz dual-core processor.

Verizon sells the current Xoom for $599.99 with a two-year service agreement, or $799.99 without a contract, which means customers can use a credit card to purchase data one month at a time from among four tiers of data service. Verizon has said it will upgrade the Xoom's 3G capability to its faster LTE network by mid-year.

Notably, Verizon will not sell the Wi-Fi-only Xoom (which only comes in a version with 32GB of storage), nor does it offer the Wi-Fi-only iPad 2. Motorola said the Wi-Fi Xoom will be available through Amazon.com, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Staples and Wal- mart, both online and at retail stores. In addition, IT administrators will be able to buy the Wi-Fi-only Xoom from traditional IT channels through a distribution agreement with Synnex Corp. and through regional carriers from Brightpoint Inc., Motorola said.

Notably, Motorola Xoom with Wi-Fi + 3G did not ship with the Flash Player installed, as users had hoped, although version 10.2 of Flash Player can be downloaded from Android Market starting this Friday, March 18.

According to Motorola, users of the new Xoom will also have to download the Flash Player 10.2 from the Android Market, even though it will ship nine days after the Flash Player will become available.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.

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