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from the L.A. Times

Motorola Xoom tablet arrives Thursday starting at $600; no Flash on Day 1

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The Motorola Xoom tablet will hit Best Buy and Verizon shelves on Thursday, selling for either $799.99 for the device free of contract, or for $599.99 with a two-year data plan.

The Xoom, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, has been hyped by many as the first serious competitor to Apple's iPad, which has dominated the market for tablet computers since it debuted last April.

But, on Day 1 and for at least a few weeks, the Xoom will be missing a few key features that separate it from the iPad.

Unlike the iPad, the Xoom is compatible with Adobe Flash -- but it won't be Flash ready on the first day.

An Adobe Flash update will be available in the Android Marketplace for the Xoom in the spring, said Ken Muche, a Verizon spokesman.

"All I can say is it's coming soon," Muche said, when asked to be more exact than spring on the Flash update.

The Xoom also has an SD-card slot, so users can save data such as music or business documents to the card and move it over to a computer. But the SD-card slot will be unusable on release day, too, he said.

"That will be activated with the first software update," but as of now, there is no set date for when that software update to the Xoom will arrive, Muche said of the Xoom's SD-card slot.

The first tablet from Motorola Mobility will feature a 10.1-inch screen that can play back high-definition 1080p video, a camera on the front to be used for video chatting via Google Talk, a 5-megapixel camera on the back for photos and 720p HD video, and an HDMI output that allows the device to hook up to an HDTV.

Verizon is currently the only wireless provider currently selling or offering data plans for the Xoom, with a two-year 3G contract starting at 1GB of data for $20 a month.

The nation's largest mobile carrier is offering a free upgrade from 3G to 4G LTE service for Xoom owners sometime in the second quarter of the year, though the data plan will probably cost a bit more for 4G service.

The Xoom will be the first tablet to run Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, which is the first version of the popular Android software to be designed specifically for tablets.

All previous Android tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, have run builds of the OS designed for smart phones.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A Motorola Xoom tablet device is held up for a photo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 16. Credit: Denis Doyle/Bloomberg

 
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