Well the Motorola Xoom is officially out in the wild at Verizon Wireless, and while it may very well be the first “real 4G” tablet to hit the market you will still have to wait to find out if there are any additional charges waiting for anyone who wants to use the Xoom on Verizon’s faster LTE network.
The Xoom in back row, part of the 10 consumer LTE devices Verizon announced at CES. Credit: Sidecut Reports.
Right now Verizon is saying that the usage-based Xoom data plans which right now allow users to connect to Verizon’s 3G network will remain the same whenever 4G connectivity becomes available. The current 3G data prices are $20 per month for 1GB of data, $35 for 3GB, $50 for 5GB and $80 for 10 GB. Unfortunately Verizon has not yet announced prices for 4G data plans other than for its 4G LTE USB modems, which have two data plans, $50 for 5 GB and $80 for 10 GB of data. While Verizon is currently saying that data plans for Xoom customers who buy today will not change, that langauge specifically does NOT say that the price will remain the same for all 4G data connections.
(We are also having a hard time trying to get a definite answer about how much, if anything, users will be charged for using the Xoom as a Wi-Fi hotspot; a Verizon rep on the toll-free ordering line said the functionality would cost an extra $20 per month, but a “live chat” representative said there is no additional charge for using the hotspot functionality. We are circling back to Verizon PR to get a definitive answer, but like everything else surrounding Verizon pricing these days it appears to be a bit of a confusing jumble.)
Given all the wondrous abilities of the Xoom to display data, it’s also perplexing that nobody at Verizon seems to know if Verizon’s NFL Mobile application will work on the Xoom or not, and if so what any extra data charges might apply. If you were looking for a killer app for the Xoom tablet it seems like leveraging Verizon’s exclusive NFL deal with live-viewing capability would be something to highlight — but store reps didn’t know if it was available or not, chat reps said it could be downloaded from the Android store, and a phone rep said “the application is not available at this time.” We’d call that a fumble.
And if you want to buy a Xoom today and connect it to LTE later, get ready to jump through some hoops. Though the Xoom is being advertised as being “4G LTE Upgradeable,” what that means is that whenever Verizon decides the device is ready you will need to ship it back to Verizon to be reconfigured, a kludgey process that will also leave you without your Xoom for a week or more.
So — no firm information on what 4G pricing might really be, and no firm date on when LTE connectivity will be available — and the iPad2 is coming out next week. Combined with all the lukewarm reviews so far for the Xoom it sounds like the consensus bet is to wait until you know all the costs and feature comparisons before you zoom out and buy one.