The module can communicate up to 100 feet indoors or 300 feet outdoors (with line-of-sight). It can be used as a serial/usb replacement or you can put it into a command mode and configure it for a variety of broadcast and mesh networking options. The shield breaks out each of the Xbee's pins to a through-hole solder pad. It also provides female pin headers for use of digital pins 2 to 7 and the analog inputs, which are covered by the shield (digital pins 8 to 13 are not obstructed by the shield, so you can use the headers on the board itself).
XBee is a registered trademark of Digi International, Inc.