Motorola Xyboard 8.2: Good tablet, bad price [Review]

Motorola's latest tablets are good devices held back by painful price tags.

Motorola's oddly-named Xyboards are tragic products. Released without much fanfare or publicity, the tablets make their appearance soon after the release of the Kindle Fire and shortly ahead of the appearance of Asus's Transformer Prime. So it's fair to say that the tablets have their work cut out for them.

Well designed...

I had a chance to play with the 8.2-inch version of the tablet and the device is really quite nice. At 390g, the Xyboard 8.2 somehow manages to be light without feeling cheap. Its back is edged with a rubber boarder, which makes holding the tablet a whole lot easier. On the internal side, Motorola furnished the device with all the necessary components--dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB RAM, speedy LTE radio, etc.  In short, it's a solid piece of hardware.

...but with a catch

But that doesn't mean that it's not without its faults. High up on its list of issues is the placement of its power button. Taking a cue from the Xoom, the Xyboard's power button and volume rocker are both located, of all places, on its backside. This may not seem like a big deal, but its not until you are forced to flip the tablet upside down to see which button you're pressing that you realize just how strange the placement is. It's a head-scratching design decision, and one that makes turning the device on and off far more of a chore than it should be.

Potential buyers should also take note that the Xyboards are equipped with Honeycomb, not Ice Cream Sandwich, though the upgrade will come eventually. So keep that in mind.

The pricing problem

The Xyboard 8.2, unsurprisingly, isforced with contend with the same issue of pricing that plagued Android tablets in 2011. Proving that LTE comes at a price, Verizon sells the device on contract for a maddening $429. At $30 a month that two year contract will add an extra $720 to the device's price tag, making the grand total ring in at over $1000. While the Xyboard is a nice bit of hardware, that asking price is far, far too steep for a device that will probably be replaced in a few months. Perhaps the inevitable Wi-Fi version will make the Xyboard a bit more palatable.

Bottom line

Don't pick this one up if you are worried about the long-term commitment, or if you are worried about Motorola announcing something bigger and better at CES next month.