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Consumer Electronics Show:

Verizon unveils Xoom tablet running Android 3.0 at CES


Justin M. Bowen

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (left), and Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon, speak during the keynote address Thursday during CES.

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Verizon, Google and Motorola executives kicked off the official start of the Consumer Electronics Show and this year’s tablet craze with a product and partnership of their own to compete with Apple’s iPad.

The first tablet running Android 3.0, also known as Honeycomb, will be on the market in February, executives announced at Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s keynote Thursday. The Motorola Xoom tablet will be available exclusively on the Verizon network.

Mike Maclaren, a Google engineer, joined Verizon and Motorola executives on stage to give the audience a sneak peek at the features of the Xoom and some of the 160,000 apps Droid currently runs.

“We spent over a year rethinking Droid. We focused on everything people love about Droid and how to make it richer,” Maclaren said.

Maclaren said users will have a desktop experience on the 10.1-inch Xoom. They’ll be able to add tabs while browsing the Web and video chat with friends via Google Talk, along with other features of most laptops.

With the YouTube app, users can browse videos in a 3-D wall, which Maclaren demonstrated. The Google ebooks app on Honeycomb will allow users to mark their place in a book and continue reading on other Droid-based devices. The ebook app will automatically sync with other devices running Honeycomb, Maclaren said.

Among other specs, the Xoom will run Adobe Flash, feature two cameras (one for video conferencing and one for HD video) and play video at full HD 1080p. The Xoom will launch with 3G in February and will upgrade to 4G later in the year.

In addition to the Xoom, Motorola and Verizon also announced the Motorola Bionic, the first 4G Android phone on the Verizon network. The Bionic will be available later this year.

Sanjay Jha, the chief executive of the newly formed Motorola Mobility, called the Bionic “the end of waiting” phone, with the ability to download music in seconds and no delays in video conferencing, thank to the phone's two cameras.

Prices for the Bionic and Xoom weren't discussed.

“The convergence that we are all talking about, the need for consumers to have all applications and content on all screens, will create the biggest tech opportunities for all of our companies,” Jha said.

“This is only the beginning,” Verizon COO and President Lowell McAdam added.

On the CES show floor, McAdam said Verizon will be showcasing 40 new products this year, all scheduled to hit the market in the next year.

“What the voices of all those young people from all over the planet are saying is that technology is another hard drive for their brain,” Seidenberg said “They're using tech to eliminate boundaries between here and there. They want it now — no matter where they are, what they see, what screen they have.”

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