Motorola's Xoom is the latest Android tablet to get lower pricing, with a new "Family Edition" Xoom now available for $379.
The Xoom Family Edition is nearly identical to its predecessor, but has 16GB of storage instead of 32GB, and is Wi-Fi-only. It also includes more preloaded software, including Kid Zone by Zoodles -- hence the "family" moniker -- and QuickOffice. Other specs include a 10.1-inch, 1280-by-800-resolution display, and a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra processor.
The 32GB Xoom Wi-Fi will continue to sell for $499, while the Xoom 4G LTE will cost $500 with a two-year contract through Verizon Wireless, or $670 without one. Best Buy, which is exclusively selling the Xoom Family Edition, will eventually raise the price to $399 according to the Wall Street Journal, but gave no timeline. (I doubt it'll ever happen.)
Battling the iPad
Motorola isn't the first tablet maker to cut prices. Last month, Research in Motion's Blackberry Playbook and HTC's Flyer both dropped in price from $500 to $300. Toshiba's Thrive and Acer's Iconia Tab A500 have also seen modest price cuts.
The reason for these falling prices is no mystery. iPad alternatives simply aren't selling. By one estimate, only 3.4 million tablets based on Google's Android Honeycomb operating system have sold so far, while Apple had sold 25 million iPads as of June 2011. Only Amazon's Kindle Fire, which has reportedly seen strong prerelease orders, seems to be holding up against the iPad, thanks in large part to its $199 price tag.
But price cuts alone don't make a tablet worth buying. The original Xoom took some criticism in PCWorld's review for its bulkiness and its excessively glossy screen. Android Honeycomb, meanwhile, is still rough around the edges and offers few great tablet apps. Honeycomb tablets have some redeeming qualities, such as widgets and in some cases better connectivity to external hardware, but if a cheap 10-inch Android tablet is what you're after, I think a refurbished Acer Iconia Tab for $300 is your best bet.