[UPDATE 03.16.11: Today Motorola announced it will be selling a cheaper Wi-Fi-only version of the Xoom for $600 at various retailers on Sunday, March 27. It's the same price as the 32 Gig Wi-Fi iPad 2. That changes things quite a bit, and makes the tablet appealing for folks who don't want a data plan or don't need mobile broadband. (Verizon is selling the Wi-Fi and 3G/4G version for $600 with a two-year data plan, or $800 without a plan.)
When comparing the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad 2 and Xoom, the Xoom outshines the iPad 2 with a better camera and the ability to view online Flash videos, making for a much better online browsing experience. The only question is will the apps designed for Honeycomb be able to stack up against the iPad? Many app updates are needed for things like Facebook and Qik video chat to work nicely.]
So the Verizon Xoom hit stores with several flaws: buggy apps, lacking Flash support, lacking hardware for 4G.
But once Verizon and Motorola address those issues with software updates (and letting you get 4G installed by bringing it back to the store), then it promises to stand strong beside the iPad 2. On March 18, the Xoom will be able to view Flash videos, and it has a better camera than the iPad 2.
But, the iPad 2 has better apps and a better e-book reader. And with the iPad you have the option to turn the 3G data plan on and off different months. There's no contract and no activation fee.
To get that lower $600 price tag on the Xoom, you'll need the two-year data contract with Verizon. Otherwise, you'll have to dish out $800 to not have a contract.
The video below sums up my experience, or just check out the more detailed print review in today's Herald.