Motorola Droid Xyboard First Look

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Even though Verizon only just announced the Droid Xyboard tablet, a prototype of this upcoming Android tablet was on display at a Verizon event I attended in Atlanta prior to the official launch. The Motorola rep on hand was quite forthcoming about the specs for this tablet, which aligned with what was unveiled earlier today.

I had only a short span with it — less than an hour — but that was enough to form some first impressions of the device, which I’d like to share.

BUILD & DESIGN

The best way to describe the appearance of the Droid Xyboard is to say that it will look like a greatly expanded version of the Motorola Droid RAZR, a smartphone that Verizon introduced last month. This means it is going to have a very masculine design, heavy on angles and light on curves. The bezel around the display will be black, though the backplate will be dark grey.

Droid XyboardDroid Xyboard

How much bigger than the Droid RAZR this device will be is going to depend on which version you pick. The major difference will be screen size — 10-inches or 8-inches — but there will be a few internal differences as well, which I will get to in a moment.

Whatever the size, the screen will be covered in Gorilla Glass to protect the actual display. It will be a capacitive touchscreen, usable with your fingertips, but a stylus will be available. The Xyboard will come with some drawing-oriented apps, like Evernote, but no stylus slot: you’ll have to carry that accessory around in a separate pouch.

It’s obvious why there won’t be stylus slot: there’s no room in this tablet’s design. It is much wider and taller than the Droid RAZR, but not much thicker. 

Droid Xyboard

Glancing around the device, you’ll find a microUSB port for charging and data transfer and an HDMI video-out port right next to it. The Power and Volume buttons are actually on the back, very near the right-hand side.  They aren’t on the side because it’s so thin there’s no room for them.

PERFORMANCE

The Motorola rep I talked to at the Verizon event told me that the Droid Xyboard will be built around a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor. It’s going to debut with Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), and while it would be better if it had the newer OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), I had no complaints about its performance in my preliminary tests. Verizon has confirmed an upgrade to Android ICS will be along eventually.

Ice Cream SandwichConsumers will have a range of options for internal storage capacity. The 10-inch model will come with either 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB, while the Motorola rep thought the 8-inch one will come in either 16GB or 32GB versions. Slightly disappointedly, there will not be a microSD memory card slot in any of these.

One of the highlights of the Droid Xyboard will be its support for Verizon 4G LTE network. In my initial trials, I found this to be very fast, at least as fast as Wi-Fi. There are also the other wireless features we’ve come to expect: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION

There are a huge number of Android tablets out there, but only a few of them stand out from the pack. The Motorola Droid Xyboard has the potential to be a stand-out model; its design and performance are what a lot people are looking for in an Android-based tablet.

The 8.2 Xyboard starts at $430 for 16GB, while the 32GB will cost $530. The 10.1-inch Xyboard starts at $530 for the 16GB, and the 32GB and 64GB units run $630 and $730 respectively. Those prices are all available only with a two-year Verizon contract, which starts at $30 per month for 2GB of data. There is no word from Motorola regarding a potential Wi-Fi only Xyboard.

Keep checking back to TabletPCReview for more information on the Droid Xyboard in the coming weeks.

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