Xoom Android tablet set for sale Thursday at Verizon

Apple iPad competitor, set to add Flash 10.2 support this spring, will cost $600 with contract; $800 without one

Verizon Wireless will start selling Motorola's Xoom tablet on Feb. 24 for $599.99 with a two-year service agreement, the carrier confirmed today.

Without a contract, the 10.1-inch Xoom, the first tablet to run the new Android "Honeycomb" software, will cost $799.99.

Rumors of the $800 no-contract cost had started circulating in recent days as some bloggers complained that the price tag could prove to be an obstacle to buyers who compare it to the 9.7-inch iPad and other devices already selling in the $500-$730 range. An iPad with 32 GB and 3G costs $729; an equivalent Xoom cost $799.99 .

Verizon said that wireless 3G data service for Xoom starts at $20 a month for 1GB. Further details on 3G pricing were not immediately available.

Upgrades to 4G service over LTE will be possible in the second quarter at no added charge, Verizon added in a statement.

Xoom also comes Wi-Fi-ready.

Xoom was introduced at the Consumer Electronic Show in early January and demonstrated at Mobile World Congress last week in Barcelona.

The first Xoom tablets to ship will not include Adobe Flash support, though Adobe noted in a blog post yesterday that the over-the-air update to Flash Player 10.2 will come "within a few weeks of ... devices becoming available."

Flash support is considered by many to be an advantage that Android devices will hold over Apple products, like the iPad, that do not include Flash.

Xoom will ship with a dual coreNvidia Tegra 2 processor, with each core running at 1GHz for a total of 2GHz of power.

The device includes two digital cameras, a front-facing 2.0 megapixel model that serves as a Webcam for video chat, and a 5.0-megapixel version on the rear for shooting still photos and 720p video. Xoom has 1280 x 800 resolution, compared to iPad's 1024 x 768. It is slightly thinner than the iPad and both weigh 730 grams.

Xoom will work with Google services, and Verizon has noted on its Web site that Google Maps will offer quick loading of 3D vector maps that can be tilted, rotated and zoomed into.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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