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Motorola Xoom 2: Second time's the charm?

The Motorola Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition tablets will be available to consumers this month in the U.K. and Ireland. No word on when they might be headed to the U.S.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read
Motorola Xoom 2
The Motorola Xoom 2. Motorola Mobility

Motorola is hitting the market with all new Xoom tablets.

Dubbed the Xoom 2, the new Android tablets will make their debut this month for consumers in the U.K. and Ireland. The tablets come in two flavors--a traditional 10-inch Xoom 2 with built-in options for business users and an 8.2-inch Xoom 2 Media Edition.

Both tablets are powered by dual-core 1.2 GHz processors, run Android 3.2 Honeycomb, and offer Wi-Fi connectivity. The displays are strengthened with Corning's Gorilla glass and come with a special splash-guard coating designed to make them more durable and stain resistant.

Another view of the Xoom 2.
Motorola's new Xoom 2 tablet Motorola Mobility

Motorola is certainly crossing its fingers with the Xoom 2, hoping for better results than the original Xoom has delivered. Launched in February, the Xoom got off to a slow start, with some analysts estimating that the company likely sold around 100,000 tablets during the initial couple of months.

The situation certainly hasn't improved over time.

Motorola recently reported that it shipped a mere 100,000 Xoom tablets for the third quarter ended in September. Over the same period, Apple sold more than 11 million iPads. Though Android tablet makers have won more market share this year, most individual tablets are still having a tough time competing against the iPad.

The two new Xoom 2 tablets sport a 1.3-megapixel camera in front and a 5-megapixel camera on the back, both with digital zoom, auto focus, and LED flash. Both come with 1 gigabyte of RAM and 16GB of storage.

Each tablet includes a new MotoCast app that allows users to wirelessly stream music, photos, videos, and other content between their tablets and their PCs. A special "Work and Play" kit lets people connect the tablets to an HDTV and control them via a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

The larger Xoom 2 is similar to the original Xoom in size and shape, but with a brighter and more vibrant display, according to Motorola. The edges have been designed with a flattened edge that's supposed to make the tablet easier to hold. The battery on this model promises more than 10 hours of life on a single charge.

And with a nod toward business users, the Xoom 2 comes preloaded with data encryption, VPN support, and Active Sync for synchronizing e-mail, contacts, and calendar appointments. It also includes both USB and Ethernet ports.

The smaller Xoom 2 Media Edition is geared more toward entertainment. The screen offers a 178-degree viewing angle to let more than one person watch movies or videos at the same time. Motorola claims a 20 percent improvement in graphics performance and has added virtual surround sound, turning the Media Edition into a gaming device. This model can also double as a remote control for TVs and other equipment courtesy of a pre-loaded remote-control app. Battery life is rated at only around six hours per charge.

Rumors about the new tablets popped up recently but had pegged them as offering 64GB of storage and 4G access.

"Tablets are quickly becoming a must-have tool for staying connected, getting work done and having fun at home and on the road," Victoria McManus, marketing director U.K. & Ireland for Motorola Mobility, said in a statement. "We are very excited about these two new additions to our tablet portfolio that build on the success of the original Motorola Xoom to now deliver more powerful tablet experiences to the European market."

Both tablets will sell at Carphone Warehouse in the U.K. and Ireland, as well as Best Buy, PC World, Dixons, and Currys in the U.K.

So when will the new Xooms be available to the rest of the world?

A Motorola spokeswoman confirmed that both tablets will be available mid-November from the retailers in the U.K. and Ireland. But the company has yet to announce any plans to launch them outside of those two countries.

Updated at 11 a.m PT with response from Motorola clarifying the availability of the tablets.