With few surprises, techies were underwhelmed with Apple’s iPad 2 announcement, but I’m confident that consumers will be thrilled with the product. Apple already had a massive lead in the consumer tablet market it created, and these "underwhelming" upgrades should keep the company comfortably ahead. Apple has given competitors an opening by sticking to 3G, and it did not further pressure them with a lower entry price point or higher-resolution display. However, Apple has three critical advantages.
AT&T has announced a new post-paid billing plan for tablet data packages, as an alternative to the current prepaid plans the carrier offers. Added to an existing monthly wireless bill, the new month-to-month plans are almost identically priced to their prepaid counterparts: $14.99 for 250MB per month, or $25 for 2GB per month.
The only difference is in overage charges. Prepaid users who reach their limit can pay for a further 2GB for $25, with fees applied to a credit card. However, postpaid users will be charged at $10 for every 1GB, added to the monthly statement, which works out cheaper.
Pre-orders for the Motorola XOOM in both 3G and WiFi-only versions have begun in the UK, with the WiFi version expected to ship on April 9 2011. Having been priced yesterday, the XOOM WiFi has now got a shipping date; retailer PC World claims that "if you order from us today you'll be the first in Europe to receive one."
Unlike the original iPad, Apple is offering AT&T and Verizon versions of the iPad 2 WiFi + 3G out of the door. Unfortunately, carrier choice doesn't offer quite the flexibility we were hoping for: according to Apple, "the iPad model you purchase is specially configured to work with either AT&T or Verizon — not both."
"While you don’t have to activate 3G service right away, you should choose your iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G according to the carrier you prefer" Apple warns. We'd hoped that the iPad 2 would have a hybrid GSM/CDMA modem which could be used on both AT&T's 3G/UMTS and Verizon's EVDO Rev.A networks, but sadly that's not the case.
Apple's iPad 2 isn't expected to see delays in-between announcement tomorrow and going on sale, but launch numbers could well be limited. According to Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope, Apple's choice of a super-thin glass screen for the second-gen tablet has led to supply chain delays, reports AppleInsider; the issue is supposedly not one of technology, but of yield, and Shope believes "volumes [will] ramp fairly quickly as the process improves"
Amazon and AT&T have announced that the Kindle 3G will go on sale in AT&T retail stores as of March 6, offering would-be ebook readers the opportunity to check out the best-selling device in person. Priced at the same $189 as Amazon sells the Kindle 3G online, the ereader already uses AT&T's 3G network in the US.
It's something of a teardown day, with first the new MacBook Pro getting stripped to basics and now the Motorola XOOM suffering the same. iFixit whipped open the casing - a straightforward process, given Motorola obviously doesn't want to make things too difficult for its technicians adding in 4G modem support - and discovered that the XOOM actually uses the same hybrid CDMA/GSM modem as found in the Verizon iPhone 4.
Motorola's big launch of CES 2011 and the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet on the market, the Motorola XOOM has a lot to live up to. In its haste to reach Verizon shelves, the XOOM could seem a little half-baked; it doesn't get Flash Player support for another few weeks, and won't have 4G until an update sometime in Q2. Still, as the iPad has shown, there are undoubtedly benefits to being first out of the gate, and there's undoubtedly plenty on offer. Can the XOOM bypass pricing skepticism? Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.
Sony has outed its latest ultraportable range, the 13.3-inch VAIO S Series. Just 24mm thick and around 1.75kg, the S Series can be paired with a slice battery for up to 14hrs runtime, uses up to Intel's Core i7-2620M and 8GB of DDR3 memory (in the Sony VAIO VPC-SB1A9E/B) along with up to a 128GB SSD and AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics doing double-duty with an Intel HD GPU.
Details of Microsoft's various XOOM models have been released, with the initial Verizon version of the slate up against the WiFi-only MZ604 and HSPA MZ601/MZ603 versions. Meanwhile, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha has defended the $799 pricing of the 32GB Verizon XOOM MZ600, confirmed earlier this week, saying that it's the potential for 4G that makes the Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet more valuable than Apple's iPad.