While the 3G version of the Android tablet is looking a bit pricey at $799, the Wi-Fi version will cost around $600, Motorola Chief Executive Sanjay Jha told Reuters.
That would put the Xoom, which has 32 GB of storage, in line with Apple's 32 GB iPad with Wi-Fi. Apple's tablet would still have the price advantage on 3G, which costs $729, compared to $800 for the Xoom. Apple also sells a 16 GB iPad for $499, while Motorola hasn't announced any other Xoom models or prices.
I'm glad to see Motorola hasn't priced itself out of the market, as some tech watchers had feared. The 3G pricing is a drag, but I also think that for a lot users, 3G is a superfluous tablet feature. A lot of new smartphones work as Wi-Fi hotspots, including Motorola's Droid X and Droid 2 on Verizon Wireless, so you could still connect a Wi-Fi Xoom to mobile broadband without the up-front hardware cost on the tablet.
As for release dates, Motorola hasn't formally announced any. The 3G Xoom is widely expected to launch in February or March through Verizon Wireless, and a Motorola executive in Latin America has said the Wi-Fi version will follow in April, but it's unclear whether that will be the case in other regions.
A lot's riding on the Xoom, which Google is positioning as the showcase tablet for Honeycomb, the large-screen version of the Android operating system. PCWorld's Melissa J.Perenson was impressed with the Xoom during her hands-on time earlier this month. Now we just need the thing to ship, already.