Wednesday brought reports that Verizon Wireless customers who purchase the Motorola XOOM tablet will need to send the device back to the factory in order to receive the 4G LTE upgrade. The option to actually jump from 3G to 4G will become available in Q2 2011.
As seen here on Verizon's website, users are encouraged to back up files and personal data by connecting the tablet to a PC or Mac. After that, they are also encouraged to either encrypt the information still residing on the tablet, or to perform a factory reset to bring the XOOM back to its original out-of-the-box state.
Once that is done, XOOM owners are instructed to (gently) shove the device and additional shipping material into a padded, prepaid FedEx envelope provided by Verizon. The actual hardware upgrade will take around six business days to complete from the time the tablet is dropped off at FedEx.
Will the upgrade to 4G be worth the wait and hassle? According to Verizon, there will be no additional charges to migrate from the current 3G network over to the speedier 4G LTE. Users will see tasty download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps.
Landing on Verizon shelves Thursday, subscribers may be hesitant in shelling out the big bucks for Motorola's Honeycomb-powered tablet ($599.99 subsidized, $799.99 unsubsidized). However the Big Red has reportedly backed down from its previous data plan requirement for the unsubsidized unit, making the long-term price of the XOOM tablet a bit easier to swallow.
Originally Verizon required XOOM consumers to sign up for the 3G service on a month-to-month basis even after shelling out the entire $799.99 for the device. At the very least, subscribers were required to spend $20 for the 1 GB-per-month plan and an extra $35 activation fee, tacking on an additional $55 to the final sale. Customers had the option to cancel the data plan after a month, but for those wanting to use XOOM only over a Wi-Fi network, the extra cost seemed like a waste of money.
But on Thursday Verizon supposedly removed the month-to-month 3G requirement. However, as of this writing, the XOOM website still lists the 2-year contract for the $599.99 subsidized option and the month-to-month contract originally tacked on to the $799.99 unsubsidized option.