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Seven months after launching with the promise of using Verizon’s LTE network, the Motorola Xoom tablet is finally going to deliver the goods. The Droid-Life blog has a screenshot indicating that Xoom owners will be able to upgrade their Android tablet in September to gain access to Verizon’s faster 4G network. Verizon has said the upgrade would be shortly after the Xoom’s launch, which was back in February. I suspect that news of another LTE tablet launching this week, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, might have added pressure to offer the upgrade sooner rather than later.
The hardware upgrade will be free although there is some inconvenience involved: Xoom owners must send in their tablet for the upgrade. The device return can take up to six business days, after which time it can access the LTE network, which supplements the device’s Wi-Fi and 3G connections. There is no price increase from Verizon (as of yet) to use the operator’s 4G network, so Xoom owners who do upgrade will gain faster speeds at no extra monthly charge.
My testing of the network has routinely shown mobile broadband speeds between 10 Mbps and 12 Mbps, making it fast enough even to potentially download an entire operating system. Of course, faster speeds often means greater overall network use; after the LTE upgrade, Xoom owners could bump up against their monthly bandwidth tiers and pay $10 for each additional GB of data.
With the mail-in process and lengthy amount of time it has taken to get an LTE radio in this device, I still feel the Xoom, and Honeycomb for that matter, was simply rushed to market. As the first Android Honeycomb tablet, the Xoom could have shined out of the gate. Instead, I found the software to be buggy with many application crashes, the 4G wasn’t enabled and the memory card slot wasn’t usable. This being the first year for the new Motorola Mobility spin-off, I expected a bit more. Regardless, current Xoom owners will finally get what they were promised nearly half a year ago.