The first tablet to be a ***Google Experience Device***: The Motorola Xoom running stock Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) is so far the premier tablet, of the Android lineup although considered by many to be overpriced. It is important to note that the Xoom is the very first, and therefore the only tablet device to be running a factory installed Android 3.0 OS. (the Barnes and Noble Nook Color I have is running HoneyNook v4 and is built off of a SDK preview and marginally stable). This is the flagship device Google worked on directly with Motorola to develop in order to promote their newest OS release. It is difficult to write this review without paying a lot of attention to the OS. In fact, Android 3.0 is the real draw on this device. It has hardware that does put it decidedly above any other tablet currently on the market. It has about every gizmo imaginable tucked under its anodized aluminum casing. (accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and more). I am not certain why the inclusion of a magnetometer inspires some sort of geek excitement within me… Ok who am I kidding, the idea of Star Trek-esque Tricorder utility is nothing to be ashamed of.
From a hardware perspective, the Xoom is very capable. It makes certain to check off all of the hoped for Tablet staples:
- USB 2
- SDCard (although it isn’t functioning yet)
- hdmi out
- NVIDIA Tegra2 dual core processor
- front and rear facing webcams, of acceptable resolutions
- Gorilla Glass
It is important to note though, that these seem to be standard issue on almost all upcoming tablets (at last count about 100 of them this year alone). This doesn’t detract from the Motorola Xoom, but makes the Android 3.0 one of the bigger plusses on this device, at least in the current marketplace.
Tablet OS | Android 3.0 | codenamed (Honeycomb)
To have the increased screen real estate to work with (1280 x 800 pixels) and not tailor the OS and the interface to work with it is downright shameful. Google spent a lot of time to make certain the usability of the OS is tablet-centric. Widgets do work on a large screen, with a giant battery. The browsing experience simply having tabs makes the experience on any other tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab, iPad (1), etc) second rate.
The Honeycomb “look and feel” is a complete redesign begun a few months back by Matias Duarte, who was the creative mind behind the webOS by Palm. If any of you have used a webOS device you most likely noticed his consistency and attention to OS design. Well his work here is a first effort and I cannot wait to see how it evolves. It is already a marked improvement. What many people are calling the TRON 2.0 look of glowing blue line minimalist icons and frames works for me. It keeps me focused on what I am trying to accomplish not distracted by the interface. In using the iPad after a Xoom I must contend that iOS on a tablet feels rather clumsy and flat. It is stable, but the lack of tabbed browsing, and the same big screen filled with bigger icons seems lacking. I am certain Apple has a lot up its sleeve to contend with this expensive first release of a tablet oriented Android OS by Google.
The Motorola Xoom, is very well situated in the tablet Market. There will be those who say the iPad is the better device because of its App base. There will be those who try to argue that it is better hardware. I have to disagree with the latter group. The limp inclusion of only 256 mb of Ram, and lack of a front facing Web Camera, and an SD card slot, make the original iPad an easy target to beat. Sure it had a price tag that made the entry level model appealing, but that only lasts so long. Right now I will state that the Tablet to beat in respect to specs/potential is the Xoom. As of tomorrow, the iPad2 will be on sale and this could very well change. In the very near future there will be scores of new Devices running myriad hardware specs. Low end, mid range high end, and niche. The Motorola Xoom will have the benefit of being the flagship device which gets the next incarnation of Android the day it is released. With such a young OS as Android 3.0 this is a very good thing. It should prolong the life and usability of the device, making it a wise purchase for this reason alone.
*** A Google Experience Device is akin to the Nexus One, in that it runs pure unadlterated Android goodness and as a result it is the first device to get updates in the Android Ecosystem. This means no waiting around for a manufacturer to decide if they want to tweak their custom skin to work with the modifications made by Google. (SenseUI, Motoblur, etc). That is huge to a consumer that doesn’t want built in obsolescence in his gadget arsenal.
EDIT: It now is running 3.1 since an OTA update and should be receiving an Android 3.2 Honeycomb update soon in the US where it is said to enable the SDCard slot.
CDMACDMA 800 /1900 LTE 700, Rx diversity in all bands
Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
2 MP DIGITAL ZOOM
PLAYABLE FORMATSAAC, H.263, H.264, MP3, MPEG-4, ACC+ Enhanced, OGG, MIDI, AMR NB, AAC+
BROWSING OVER 3G
up to approx. 9 hrs.
BROWSING OVER WIFI
up to approx. 10 hrs.
up to approx. 3.3 days
up to approx. 14 days
VIDEO PLAYBACK TIME
up to approx. 10 hrs.
Stereo Bluetooth® technology 2.1+EDR+HID
Android HTML Webkit, Tabbed browsing, Chrome bookmark sync, Incognito mode, Form auto-fill
Corporate Sync, GOTA
Micro USB; HDMI out
DATA TRANSMISSION RATE
USB 2.0 (High Speed)
GPS AND LOCATION SERVICES
eCompass, aGPS (assisted) with Google Maps™, Google Latitude™, Google Maps Street View, barometer
10.1-in.; WXGA (1280x 800 pixels; 150 pixels / inch), HD 720p
SIZE (H X W X D)
9.8 x 6.6 x 0.5 inches
MATERIALS AND FINISH
Anodized aluminum and soft touch
up to 32 GB on board
1GHz Dual Core
CDMA 800 /1900 LTE 700, Rx diversity in all bands
Proximity, ambient light, barometer, gyroscope