3 Reasons Motorola's Xyboard Is Better Than the iPad

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Read it and weep, fanboys: The business tablet of the moment isn't the Apple ( AAPL) iPad, the Amazon ( AMZN) Kindle Fire or the BlackBerry ( RIMM) PlayBook. It's the wee little Motorola ( MOT) Droid Xyboard 8.2 from Verizon ( MOT) ($429 for 32 GB model, $30 a month for 2 GB of data).

For businesses betting real dollars on tablets -- not wannabes who wanna look cool, but real firms that need real money back from their spend -- picking a tablet these days is no joke. Never mind that every maker from Toshiba to Dell ( DELL) makes a decent business tablet PC; now phone companies are piling into the tablet racket with abandon. AT&T ( T), T-Mobile and Sprint ( S), among others, offer perfectly good tablets that further murk up business purchase options. Buy with a contract and get a discount -- but also a complex set of rate packages, taxes and fees.
Built for home theater buffs, the Xyboard is the tablet of the moment for businesses as well.

The upshot is that spooky nuggets of value are popping up for business tablets. To wit, Motorola's Droid Xyboard 8.2, a tablet built and marketed for -- get ready for this -- the home theater user. It has a fabulous high-resolution screen, high-quality speakers and what amounts to a remote control.

I reluctantly pulled a Verizon demo Xyboard out of the box about a month ago. And I gotta say, this thing turned out to be a major league business technology player.

Here's why:

1. It's the right size!
Whatever genius at Motorola designed the Xyboard deserves to run the place. This roughly 10-inch diagonal tablet is blissfully easy on the hands. It can be comfortably held, like a magician holding up a deck of cards to the audience or a waiter serving a plate from the side. Or a kid cramming for an exam. All this tablet handiness opens the Xyboard to complex tasks: Draw on it for hours. Or whip it out and jot emails. Take long notes. Or talk into it and prop it up for a video conference. The control buttons are smartly placed, and the overall ergonomics are the best on tablet market, as far as I know.

If you are looking for the ultimate, right-sized tablet to work on, this is it.

2. It's made of the right stuff!
Motorola knew enough to frame the edge of this tablet in rubber. That means it does not skid around your desk or airline tray, stands up when you lean it against a PC on your desk (as I am doing now to look at my notes for this story) and has a good grip that means it may literally never be dropped. I haven't dropped it once. Compare that to my iPad, which hit the deck in the first 15 minutes. The Xyboard's case, rigid screen and attention to detail prevents that iPad gonna-bust-mama's-china feeling. You -- and your clients -- can get a hold and keep a hold of it.

And that, friends, is the feeling you want.

3. It's not trying to be a laptop replacement.
Because this unit is smaller and aimed at the consumer, Motorola stayed away from positioning this thing as another PC experience. It's really too cramped for that. But therein lies the sleeper upside: The unit's high-resolution screen, 4G LTE network support from Verizon, excellent Google ( GOOG) Android 4.0 OS and portable Wi-Fi hotspot make it one seriously productive device. One that works with your PC. Remember, it's light enough that you can slide it in your bag. So the Xyboard gives the best of both worlds -- you can carry it as a work tablet and have your PC, which you most definitely still need to do more complex tasks.

Some things to keep in mind before you before you buy:

Verizon's network worked very well in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Spokane, Wash., and Indianapolis when I tested it recently. But is far from being cheap. VZ caps its data access strictly, and with a screen this good, it's tempting to start streaming in movies like crazy. Don't do it. Use the Wi-Fi whenever possible or watch your bill soar. And that's on top of a fairly hefty purchase price for the Xyboard. This is -- at its cheapest -- a $420 buy.

But as I said, considering all the upside, the Xyboard is the business tablet of the moment.

Without question, the Xyboard is worth the time with the Verizon sales rep to get a firsthand look.

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