Xoom and the "Simple" 4G Upgrade: Not So Much

You have to wonder occasionally where the acceptable limits of product marketing are. Best Buy advertises Motorola Mobility's (NYSE: MMI  ) Xoom tablet as 4G upgradeable, but that may actually not be the case. A case of false advertising?

It's definitely a head-scratcher. If the Xoom is advertised as being 4G upgradeable, which would imply that the device may only need a software upgrade to enable 4G, and it really is not easily upgradeable, would that be called false advertising or deception?

According to the teardown specialists at IHS iSuppli, there is no 4G chip in the Xoom, but simply two MIMO antennas and a SIM card slot in preparation for the LTE upgrade. There is no way to upgrade the Xoom to 4G without physically opening the device, which would have to be done by Motorola or a service provider. This sounds a lot like additional costs, especially since the Xoom is not advertised with a "free" 4G upgrade.

So the promised Flash support has not materialized for the Xoom yet, you need to subscribe to at least one month of free 3G service to unlock Wi-Fi support, and now it's questionable whether that 4G upgrade will actually be reasonable for the average Xoom buyer, who pays $800 for the naked tablet -- which is designed to compete with Apple's iPad.

IHS iSuppli also noted that the Xoom "seems to be pushing the bounds for integrating a large number of sensors in a tablet." There is an unusual barometer in the Xoom, which we have not seen in any other tablet before. According to IHS microelectromechanical sensor expert Jeremie Bouchaud, this pressure sensor works in conjunction with the global positioning system for indoor navigation applications -- so don't expect any sophisticated weather-prediction applications.

The missing 4G chips make the case for the Xoom even less convincing. We would be surprised if Motorola can move substantial volumes of this tablet.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2011, at 8:59 AM, Henry3Dogg wrote:

    What are you comparing too? Certainly not an iPad since you claim longer battery life!

    How can AAPL fix a problem that never existen other than an a fantasy of the Android blogging community.

    And every iPhone owner was offered a refund if they weren't happy that there was no exception problem. Didn't see a queue.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2011, at 9:00 AM, Henry3Dogg wrote:

    For exception read reception. Spelling checkers!

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2011, at 1:32 PM, rndlph wrote:

    I am not sure how "upgradeable" necessarily implies "software upgradeable."

    From the Xoom Upgrade FAQ at Verizon (http://support.vzw.com/faqs/Equipment/xoom_upgrade.html):

    6. How much will it cost to upgrade my Motorola Xoom™ from 3G to 4G LTE™?

    There is no additional cost for the 4G LTE upgrade.

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