Verizon Wireless prepping two 4G Droid tablets for this month

On deck are 8-inch and 10-inch versions of the Droid Xyboard. The 4G LTE tablets, both from Motorola Mobility, are the first two to carry the Droid premium name.

The 8-inch Droid Xyboard (left) and its 10-inch brother Roger Cheng/CNET

Verizon Wireless will launch two more tablets, both carrying the premium Droid brand, before the end of the year, CNET has learned.

The wireless carrier plans to sell the Motorola Mobility Droid Xyboard in two sizes: a larger 10-inch design and a smaller 8-inch brother. Verizon didn't provide details on the specifications, pricing, or launch date, although it will come out this month.

Motorola declined to provide details as well.

"As we've previously mentioned, we're planning to bring several new LTE devices to market including two tablets," the company said in a statement. "We haven't made any official announcements in the U.S. but we look forward to sharing more details soon."

For Verizon, the Xyboard tablets represent two high-profile additions to its growing portfolio of 4G LTE devices. That the carrier has opted to add the Droid name signals that both products are part of its premium lineup. Motorola, meanwhile, gets another crack at the tablet market with the successors to the Xoom. (They are sold overseas as Xoom 2).

The 10-inch Xyboard with a wireless keyboard and cover accessory Roger Cheng/CNET

The tablets are thinner than the Xoom, and share the same design cues as the recently released Droid Razr, which Verizon considers its flagship smartphone. Rather than the typical rounded edges of other tablets and the original Xoom, the Xyboard tablets have sharper corners. Like many other Android tablets coming out now, they both run on the Honeycomb version of Android, which is specifically designed for tablets.

Both tablets have a 1.2 gigahertz dual-core processor and 1 gigabyte of RAM. They each have a 5-megapixel camera in the back and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. The devices are both thinner than a AAA battery and lighter than a paperback book. They also feature Corning's tough Gorilla Glass.

The 10-inch Xyboard is intended for use by business customers, and includes a stylus. The smaller Xyboard, meanwhile, is intended to be a more media-centric device and comes with a 2.1 virtual surround sound system that includes a subwoofer.

The 8-inch Xyboard sitting in a dock accessory Roger Cheng/CNET

Outside of the iPad, the tablet market has been a mixed bag for the manufacturers. A recent study by NPD found that only 1.2 million non-iPad tablets were sold this year ; Apple sold 11.1 million iPads in the last quarter alone. The second most popular tablet is the heavily discounted TouchPad from Hewlett-Packard.

Earlier this year, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha acknowledged difficulties in selling the Xoom, particularly at full price.

Verizon Wireless' marketing chief, Marni Walden, also noted the challenge of selling tablets so far. In an interview with CNET, she noted that more content, as well as additional help setting up and customizing the device for each customer, would spur adoption.

Price, meanwhile, remains a big factor, with many of the recent popular tablets all selling for a much lower price than the $500 iPad. Among them are the $200 Amazon Kindle Fire, the $99 TouchPad, and the discounted PlayBook, which also sold for $199 during a Thanksgiving promotion. Walden said she expects to eventually add a more affordable entry-level tablet to the lineup.

Walden added that the holiday could be shaping up for a strong season for tablets.

"We're only getting started on tablets," she said.

 

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