Motorola Xoom Review – Android 3 Tablet with Great Potential
We’ve waited for the first tablet with Android 3.0 for quite some time now, and finally the Motorola Xoom has landed on store shelves. The Xoom looks a lot like Apple’s original iPad; it has a large touch screen, is made of aluminum and is relatively thin at roughly half an inch. The weight is also about the same as the iPad.
Design and Features
Where the iPad has a 9.7-inch screen in 4:3 format, the Xoom has a slightly larger 10.1-inch widescreen with a higher resolution – 1280 x 800 pixels instead of 1024 x 768, which makes the machine better suited for looking at large websites and watching movies on the go.
Other features include stereo speakers and a 5-megapixel camera that allows for video recording in 720p HD resolution. On the side of the device sits buttons to control volume, and the top is a 3.5 mm headphone jack and slots for SIM and MicroSD memory cards. There is only one button on the front as well as a 2-megapixel camera for video chat.
The overall design is not quite as classy as Apple’s offering, but on the whole it looks pretty good and seems to be solidly built.
Motorola hasn’t skimped on the hardware either; the Xoom is equipped with a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of memory and 32GB of storage space. This makes it lightning fast and it reacts instantly to your commands.
Battery life is quite good as well. Not quite on par with the iPad, but close enough. We got almost nine hours out of it while stressing it quite heavily with video streaming and web surfing.
The top selling point for the Xoom is of course Google’s brand new Android 3.0 operating system, which is developed specifically for tablets. The Android smartphone legacy is still apparent, but the user experience has been greatly improved for the format and takes advantage of the large screen area.
There are virtual buttons for Home and Back, as well as a virtual button that lets you toggle between running apps. On the right hand side you have access to frequently used settings like screen brightness, flight mode and Wi-Fi, and you also receive updates on new emails, chats, software updates and so on.
There are five home screens in total that you can fill with apps and widgets to your heart’s content just like on other Android devices. The widgets are at center stage here and make a great deal more sense on a tablet compared to the tiny screen on a smartphones.
The core functionality of Xoom is Google’s own apps: Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk and YouTube–all of which work perfectly with Android 3.0. Web browsing is also fantastic. It renders web pages quickly and correctly, and using tabs pages you can let other stuff load in the background. It’s almost like using a full-featured desktop browser.
YouTube is probably the app that has been given the biggest overhaul in Android 3.0. It comes with a simple search feature and quick video playback, even in high definition. Videos appear in a sleek 3D interface and it’s easy to share videos via Facebook or other means. Google Chat also works great with video chat via Wi-Fi.
Regular Android apps for smartphones also work on Android 3.0, but if they haven’t been somehow tweaked for tablets it’s usually a rather boring experience, simply because they don’t make use of a fraction of the Xoom’s capabilities. Sadly, there are not that many tablet-optimized apps in the Android Market yet, but this is bound to change considering the influx of new Android tablets.
The Motorola Xoom is not only the first device with Android 3.0, it’s also a well-built machine with exceptionally powerful hardware. One of the issues holding it back so far is the limited range of tablet apps in the Android Market. The Xoom still has great potential, and once we start seeing more Honeycomb devices on the market, there will also be a corresponding increase in the number of apps optimized for the tablet format.