By JR Raphael
Good news, Android fans: Verizon Wireless has backed down on its silly requirement that all Motorola Xoom owners sign up for a data plan in order to use the tablet.
The original Xoom pricing, as you may recall, included a mandatory month of 3G service -- meaning you had to fork over 20 bucks plus a $35 activation fee, even if you just wanted to use the Xoom over Wi-Fi. You could cancel the plan after that first month, but you still had to spend an extra $55 to buy the device.
As of this morning, Verizon has removed that requirement. I've confirmed with a Verizon Wireless spokesperson that if you purchase the Xoom for $800, without a contract, you will not be required to pay the $35 activation fee or sign up for any sort of data plan.
UPDATE: Best Buy has now revised its policy and is allowing Xoom purchases without data plans as well.
The Verizon Wireless website is not reflecting the updated policy as of yet; if you attempt you purchase a Xoom there, your only options are a 2-year contract, a 1-year contract, or a month-to-month contract (which charges you the aforementioned $55). One would imagine they'll be adjusting this before long. In the meantime, an online customer service representative tells me you can contact customer care to have the data plan removed and the cost refunded after making a purchase.
For much more on the Xoom, including specs, comparisons, and the truth about tethering, check out our complete Motorola Xoom FAQ. It has everything you need to know about Google's inaugural Android Honeycomb tablet.
Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.