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The Other, Other Tablet

All eyes may be on Amazon this week, but let’s not forget the Motorola Xoom 2.
September 28, 2011

Yes, it’s coming. Yes, it’s exciting. The Amazon tablet, which many are hailing as the first real iPad competitor, is on its way. But there are other contenders for Tablet Champion of the World (or at least, runner up) in the wings. And we’ve also got eyes for the Xoom 2.

We’re still in the realm of speculation and rumor–most of Engadget’s stories on the Xoom 2 end with a question mark–but it’s worth keeping an eye on this forthcoming tablet from Motorola Mobility, Google’s favored son.

Here’s what we know, or think we know. The Xoom 2 will actually be two tablets, both of which apparently share the codename “Fleming.” Combining reports from Engadget and This Is My Next, it would appear that one tablet will have a 10.1-inch display, while a smaller version will have a 8.2-inch display (a “Media Edition,” weighing less than a pound, and more of an e-reader competitor than iPad competitor). Even the larger tablet will be only 9mm thick–hardly thicker than an iPad 2, which measures 8.8mm thick. In the larger model at least, a TIMN source says there should be a 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of so-called “faster” RAM, 1080p video, and a battery that outdoes its predecessor with 11 hours of life between charges. On the software front, the Xoom 2 is expected to be the first tablet that will stream Netflix in HD and feature Adobe Flash Player 11. No word on price yet, of course.

Amidst the daily onslaught of tablet news and rumor, the Xoom 2 matters because the Xoom 1 mattered. It was the first tablet running Android 3.0 Honeycomb, a tablet-focused version of the Android OS. It was widely admired, a favorite at CES, and has done decent sales, if nothing to quite give Apple a run for its piles and piles of money. Motorola invested a lot in the thing, running this Apple-bashing Super Bowl Ad in January.

The real problem, though, was the price–$800 for a fully featured version, though eventually it became possible to get one as cheap as about $500. And price, of course, is what has people most excited about the Amazon tablet–something in the $200-$300 range, thanks to the fact that the tablet will mainly be propelling Amazon’s content distribution business.

Can the Xoom 2–or at least its Media Edition, which seems more similar, specs-wise, to what’s expected from Amazon–compete with that price, or come close?

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