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Motorola Xoom Could Steal iPad 2 Thunder Next Month

The Motorola (M) Xoom, the Android-based tablet that won CNET's Consumer Electronics Show best of show award, looks like it will arrive on Feb. 17 -- beating the iPad 2 to market and potentially stealing the thunder of Apple's (APPL) device.

Out two months before iPad 2
According to a leaked document obtained by Engadget, Best Buy will begin carrying the Motorola Xoom shortly after Valentine's Day. That puts the onus on Apple to do an official iPad 2 announcement ahead of that release, even if the actual product won't be available for some time. It sort of has to release some iPad 2 details before the Xoom hits stores so consumers can compare.

The iPad still has a much bigger buzz and, with nearly 10 million sold, a more established reputation than Motorola's newcomer. But it's almost a year old, and is bound to suffer by comparison with the brand-new Xoom absent info on the next iPad model.

No SD slot
The Motorola Xoom will have several advantages over the current iPad, including a 10-inch HD display, a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, and Adobe (ADBE) Flash 10. These may be matched by the upcoming iPad 2.

However, the Xoom will have something the iPad 2 probably won't: An SD slot or some other form of removable memory. Based on the information we do have, the iPad 2 will be more an incremental change than a revamp:

  • front-facing camera
  • rear-facing camera
  • improved speakers
There are two reasons why the lack of removable memory will be an issue with the iPad 2. First, with the new emphasis on photos, it seems counterintuitive not to have a way to swap photos between cameras and tablets -- especially since most digital cameras still depend heavily on SD cards and the like.

Second, no removable memory means users are dependent on wireless connections for file transfers. For those with the Wi-Fi model, a hotspot isn't always available. For customers with the 3G iPad, the data-limited download plans from AT&T (T) and Verizon (V) restrict just how much you can transfer wirelessly -- a big issue when it comes to hi-res photos.

Photo courtesy of Motorola

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