Motorola outs Xoom, the world’s first Android 3.0 tablet

No more teasing – Motorola's Honeycomb tab is here

Google’s Eric Schmidt first teased us with a mystery Motorola tablet a couple of months back, and now we have the full lowdown on the world’s first Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablet. It’s called the Xoom, and it looks a bit special.

It’s a 10.1in design with a 1280x800 display (that’s better than 720p hi-def) with a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 platform-on-a-chip and 1GB RAM under the hood. There are two cameras – a 5MP rear-facing one, and a 2MP webcam aimed squarely at your visage. Eat that, iPad.

It comes with 32GB of built-in storage and has an SD slot which, after an update, will allow you to expand its memory further. There’s an HDMI out for feeding your TV 1080p video goodness, and the battery is apparently good for 10 hours of continuous playback.

Connectivity options include the requisite A-GPS, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1, ably assisted by 3G (upgradable to 4G LTE in the US). It’s very similar in size to the iPad – 0.5mm thinner at 12.9mm, a mite taller at 249.1mm and a little less wide at 167.8mm. So, it’s like a plastic iPad, slightly stretched.

Our one hardware concern is the placement of the headphone socket. It’s dead center along the top longest edge. Given that the device works in landscape and portrait modes, it seems a strange decision.

But thankfully Android 3.0 looks fantastic. Though the fonts are similar and there are design cues from the handheld versions of Android, Honeycomb is clearly designed with the bigger screen in mind. Multiple windows can be open on screen simultaneously and items can be dragged and dropped into folders.

The built-in apps look brilliant, too. Google Maps’ slick 3D vector mapping is just stunning (though we weren’t allowed to touch), and Youtube has a very nice, Cooliris-style navigation that makes the most of the Tegra 2’s graphical prowess. With more apps like these, it’s going to be a serious contender for the iPad’s version of iOS.

The units we saw were still prototypes, so Motorola was cagey about launch dates and pricing. In our view it can’t come soon enough.