updated 06:10 pm EDT, Sat September 24, 2011
Xoom 2 ME to have 8.2in IPS, subwoofer
Motorola's mystery smaller tablet has been identified and is being cast as a potential category defier. Leaked as the Xoom 2 Media Edition, it would have an unusual 8.2-inch display and focus on not just a second round of competition with the iPad but with e-readers. The LCD would use a much more colorful IPS-based panel, closer to Apple and Samsung, and carry an anti-glare finish to help with reading outside.
Accordingly, it would be much lighter than both the original Xoom and the iPad 2. At 0.95 pounds, it's reportedly light enough to be held comfortably in one hand. Some steps will have been taken to harden it against the elements, such as a Gorilla Glass display and a splash-proof aluminum and magnesium shell.
The Media Edition label would come into play through an infrared blaster for controlling home theater, much like the Sony Tablet S, and a built-in subwoofer to supply fuller sound out of the tablet itself. At least Android 3.2 should ship standard and may include the home automation apps and Wi-Fi syncing of the Xoom 2.
If like the future full-size Xoom, the X2ME could have a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. A snapshot obtained by Engadget showed it having the same 'clipped' corners and a MediaConnect app that might be linked to the home theater components. Ship dates aren't apparent, though Motorola might not want to wait until 2012.
Motorola may be hoping to broaden its reach in tablets after failing to translate success from phones into the tablet area. The first Xoom was Google's officially promoted Android 3 tablet and had a high-profile, anti-Orwellian Super Bowl ad campaign. A steep $800 early price, a bulky design and a mediocre screen helped contribute to low sales that this spring stopped at 440,000 Xooms, or less than five percent of the 9.25 million iPads Apple sold in the same time span. Having a device treated equally as an e-reader and tablet could help it expand into areas where Apple doesn't compete as directly and might help carve a niche where direct competition failed.