March 16, 2011 at 11:27 AM ET
A Wi-Fi only version of Motorola's Xoom tablet — considered by many as the preeminent competitor to Apple's iPad — goes on sale in stores March 27. It will cost $599.99.
The Android-based tablet with both Wi-Fi and a 3G chip became available in February through Verizon Wireless. It costs $599.99 with a two-year contract at Verizon, plus a monthly data fee that starts at $20. Or you can buy it for $799.99 without a contract, and use a month-to-month plan.
Among the brick-and-mortar retailers where 10.1-inch tablet will be sold: Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Costco, Staples, RadioShack and some Sam's Club locations; it will also be available online by those companies, as well as at Amazon.com.
"We are now continuing to expand the choices available to consumers with the Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi to be available soon from numerous leading retailers in the United States," said Dan Papalia, vice president of retail sales for Motorola Mobility, in a press release.
The timing could be good on Motorola's part, as some iPad 2 wanna-be buyers, frustrated by wait times of at least a month for Apple's tablet, might turn to the Xoom instead for tablet instant gratification. Still, with most Android apps geared to smart phones and not to tablets (the iPad has more than 35,000 specific iPad apps), that's may hurt the Xoom for the moment.
The Wi-Fi only Xoom, with 32 GB, costs the same at $599.99 as the 32 GB version of the Wi-Fi only iPad. (The iPad starts at $499.99 for a 16 GB, Wi-Fi only version.)
Momentum still seems to be with the iPad. ChangeWave Research, which surveyed 3,091 consumers about tablets last month, said in the 90 days ahead, 5 percent of respondents said they'll be buying a tablet within 90 days, and that "once again, Apple remains the overwhelming winner among planned buyers, with 82 percent of future tablet buyers saying they’ll be purchasing an iPad."
Of the remainder, 4 percent said they'll purchase a Xoom, 3 percent RIM's upcoming PlayBook, 3 percent Samsung's Galaxy Tab, and 8 percent are looking at other brands.
More about the Xoom and the iPad: