Motorola Xoom Review

Overview

The Motorola Xoom has only recently been released and is the first tablet on the market that features the Android Honeycomb operating system by Google. The Motorola Xoom comes with the option of a Wi-Fi only model and also the option to buy the tablet with 3G or 4G abilities built in and the range of storage sizes. Motorola are well known within the mobile phone market and have only recently branched out into the tablet market by releasing the Xoom, which has had some promising feedback from consumers and critics.

motorola xoom

Hardware and Features

The Motorola Xoom features a 1GHz dual – core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, this is an extremely powerful processor and means that the tablet runs smoothly and quickly without lagging or freezing. This is an important feature of the hardware as it allows all the functions on the tablet to be used to their full potential. The machine also has 1GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. One of the nicest features of the Xoom is the inclusion of a memory card slot meaning that the user can expand the memory on the device.

The screen on the Xoom is 10.1" with an extremely high resolution of 1200 x 800 meaning the display is bright and colors are vibrant allowing for a great experience when viewing photos or movies. The Xoom also features Wi-Fi and the option of a 3G/4G model meaning that the device is able to connect to the internet anywhere if needs be. The Xoom also features a front and back camera allowing for video calls and photos to be taken. Video can also be recorded.

The most unique feature of the Xoom is the Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system giving the user a wide range of features that are not seen on many other tablet OS's. The Honeycomb operating system allows the user to have widgets, customizable home screens and the multi-tasking feature on the Xoom is phenomenal.

Technical Specifications

Operating System: Android 3.1 Honeycomb – one of the newest operating systems to be developed on the market, there has been a lot of hype over the Honeycomb OS and it seems to be living up to its expectations.

Camera: Front web camera 2MP, back camera 5MP, Digital Zoom, Automatic Focus and Dual – LED Flash – The camera on the Xoom is a good quality piece of hardware and will take photographs and videos well. The inclusion of a web camera also means that users have the option to use the Xoom to make video calls.

Music and Video: Android Music Player, 720p video playback, 720p video capture, supports formats – AAC, H.263, H.264, MP3, MPEG 4, ACC+ Enhanced, OGG, MIDI, AMR, AAC+, AMR NB – As can be seen from the wide range of supported formats the Xoom can easily handle media files on the device including audio and video playback.

Battery Life: battery type, 24Whr, browsing over Wi-Fi approx. 10 hours, music playback 3.3 days, video playback approx. 10 hours, standby time approx. 14 days – As can be seen from the quoted battery life for various features on the tablet the Xoom has a fairly strong battery life which is much longer than expected from a device as such, which consumes a lot of power. With the functions on the device managed effectively on the device the tablet will have one of the strongest battery life's on the market.

Messaging: e-mail, corporate sync, Google Mail, POP3/IMAP (embedded) corporate directory lookup (GAL), Google Talk instant messaging – The e-mail on the Xoom is fairly effective and it is easy to see the importance of Google features within the device, mainly down to the operating system being developed by them. The mail system is effective and works well.

Connectivity: 802.11.a/b/g/n, Stereo Bluetooth technology 2.1 + EDR + HID, Micro USB, HDMI out, USB 2.0 – The Xoom has built in Wi-Fi allowing users to connect to the internet so that they can download data straight to the device and also browse the web on the tablet using the in-built web browser.

Web Browser: Android HTML web kit, tabbed browsing, chrome bookmark sync, incognito mode, Form auto – fill – As can be seen from the features included, the web browser is very developed and is much stronger than many other browsers included on hand held device.
Screen Display: 10.1" 1200 x 800 resolution, touch screen – The Motorola Xoom is mainly touch interface and features a touch screen display allowing the user to interact with the tablet effectively and easily. It also worked well alongside some of the media features on the device such as applications for games and web browsing.

Memory: 32 or 16GB in built memory, SD card slot allowing expansion of memory up to 32GB – The internal memory on the device is similar to other tablets on the market such as the Playbook, the most interesting feature of the Xoom is that Motorola have included the option for the user to expand their memory by inserting a memory card, a feature that has not been seen on the iPad or the Playbook.

Hardware: 1GHz dual – core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1GB RAM – The processor included in the Xoom is extremely powerful and allows the operating system to function to its full capability, running smoothly and rapidly. The powerful processor also allows the user to multi-task on the device which is one of the strongest features on the new Android operating system.

What's in the Box?

The Motorola Xoom comes packaged in a cardboard box, a graphic of the device is featured on the front of this box with a basic outline of its features on the back. Once the lid is removed the user will see the device presented and held in place by a black plastic casing. The tablet is then removed and the accessories are kept underneath.

The Xoom comes with a manual to help the user set up the device and get using the tablet quickly, without any start-up problems. The tablet also comes with a charger which can be plugged into a main outlet and is also the USB cable which connects the device to the computer when the user transfers files on to the device. There is also a HDMI cable with the device so that the reader can plug the device in to a television and play videos or display photographs on the larger screen.

Connectivity

There are many forms of connectivity on the Motorola Xoom and on a whole the tablet can be used in conjunction with a range of other devices giving the tablet many extra benefits. The most important form off connectivity it seems is the ability to connect to the internet on the tablet, which the Xoom caters for extremely well, offering the user the option of Wi-Fi or 3G models. This means that the user can connect to the internet wherever there is a mobile connection if they indulge in the 3G model, making the tablet extremely mobile.

Even without the 3G option the Xoom is fairly accessible to the internet due to hotspots being more and more common alongside the fact that most restaurants and café's now offer their users free Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning that the Xoom can browse the web and download files almost anywhere.

The Xoom also has a HDMI connection so that the tablet can be connected to a television, this makes great use of the media functions on the device as it allows the user to display content such as videos and photographs that are stored on the Xoom on a television, particularly useful for watching movies due to the larger screen. This is a nice feature on the device and keeps it up to date with current technologies.

Lastly there is the standard mini to 2.0 USB connection which allows the user to connect the tablet to a computer, this is mainly for transferring files to the device as the Xoom comes with an AC adaptor so can be charged from any mains outlet rather than needing to be charged via a computer.

Supported File Formats

The supported file formats on the Xoom are very varied due to its ability to support multi-media. The technical specifications list AAC, H.263, H.264, MP3, MPEG 4, ACC+ Enhanced, OGG, MIDI, AMR, AAC+ and AMR NB in terms of media but there are also many more. Firstly, the media files supported on the device are extremely varied, as can be seen from the above list, therefore the user should not have any trouble viewing videos or playing back audio on the device.

There are also graphical formats supported on the reader such as PNG, JPEG, GIF, and BMP, further to this there is also the formats the applications for the device are. In terms of reading on the Xoom, the fact that there is a range of reading applications designed for the Xoom a range of eBook formats can be supported within these applications, for example PDF's, EPUB, MOBI and TXT. In terms of formats there shouldn't be any content that the Motorola cannot display, if it cannot then there is a lot of support online that will help users convert the file to a format that can be displayed.

Memory

The memory on the Xoom depends on which version of the device the user purchases. The largest size is 32GB and the size down is the 16GB version. The interesting thing about the Xoom is that unlike other tablets on the market such as the iPad and the Playbook, the Xoom offers the users the option of expandable memory which in itself increases the usefulness of the device as it allows users to use more than one memory card in order to store maximum content, rather than hitting the limit and having to delete existing data in order to make room for more files.

Battery Life

The battery life on the Xoom is solid and matches up with the other tablets on the market. The technical specifications for the Motorola Xoom lists the battery life as browsing over Wi-Fi approx. 10 hours, music playback 3.3 days, video playback approx. 10 hours, standby time approx. 14 days. Motorola have given their consumers a good idea of battery life which is fairly accurate which is always a benefit.

In terms of tablets battery life the reader lasts for a long time and is one of the strongest on the market matching up with the likes of the Playbook and the iPad. The user reports of the tablet say that using a variety of features on the device results in battery life around 7-8 hours. The device has a built in rechargeable battery and the estimated charge time on the tablet is 4.5 hours meaning the user can easily charge the device up overnight etc.

Screen Quality

motorola xoom screen

The screen on the Motorola Xoom is not the tablets strongest feature. On first glance the reader has vibrant colors and the display is easy to read, however with more use the quality of the display deteriorates. The Xoom is not awful, it does its job however the color screen is not in the same region of quality as the iPad 2 and the Playbook. Even the Samsung tablet has a much more promising display. Compared to the other readers the Xoom does not have as bright a display and this can be seen easily when the devices are compared to one another.

In terms of touch screen the Xoom is very responsive which allows the user to interact with the tablet very easily. The touch screen on the reader is a massive benefit as it allows the user to use a variety of applications that require touch screen. Not only this but it also makes interaction with the tablet very easy. The one problem with the display on the Xoom is that the LCD screen is very reflective and therefore the tablet cannot be used comfortably outside where the light is particularly bright as it reflects and causes a glare on the screen, obscuring the display from the user. This makes it difficult to read in particular.

Build Quality and Design

The design of the Xoom results in a very attractive device. The screen on the device is 10.1 inches which does make it one of the larger tablets on the market. This compromises the portability of the device but the larger display allows the media to be viewed on the tablet comfortably and effectively. The weight of the Xoom is also slightly heavier due to the larger screen but this is a benefit as it gives the device some solidity.

In terms of aesthetics the device is very minimalistic making the device look very sleek and sophisticated. The device is only available in black which does limit personal preference although cases are available for the product and the black is very versatile and suits a range of consumers. The volume and power buttons on the device are easy to use and the design feels very solid and well-built overall featuring a metal frame in order for the device to be strong and reliable.

Motorola Xoom vs.

How does the Motorola Xoom compare to other tablets currently on the market?

Motorola Xoom vs. iPad

motorola xoom vs iPad

One of the biggest tablets on the market is the iPad, released by Apple the iPad is now on the second generation of the product, (iPad 2) which is well known for being the brand leader in terms of multi-media tablets. So how does the Xoom measure up to the competition on the market?

In terms of connectivity the Motorola Xoom matches the iPad 2 as it offers consumers the chance to purchase a Wi-Fi only model or a 3G/4G model. This means that both of the tablets can be extremely portable, even with a Wi-Fi only capability hotspots are very common now and therefore the tablet will probably have internet connection even when out and about. They both have the touch screen interface which allows for the use of games on the devices, an example is the popular angry birds.

The memory on the two devices is similar although the iPad does come in a larger option. On the whole I think that Motorola have the upper hand with the Xoom as they have included a memory card slot. This means that when the internal memory on the device is full the user can insert a memory card which doubles the device memory to 64GB. Although the top model of the iPad is also 64GB once this is full there is no other option in terms of storage and content will need to be deleted to make way for any new data. With a memory card it is not hard for the user to keep more than one and simple insert whichever memory card is needed at the time, for instance they could keep one memory card devoted to movie files which would free up a lot of space on the device and only insert this when they intended to watch a film on the tablet.

In terms of media supported on the Xoom the iPad is pretty similar and the only area the iPad is known to have problems with is the ability to display flash as the Safari browser does not allow this due to licensing issues between the two companies. It has been rumoured that there is now an application for the iPad which allows users to browse the web with the ability to view flash however this has not been introduced yet. Therefore when viewing web pages on the iPad there are sometimes gaps where flash content is supposed to be displayed, which can be a pain as it is key in some cases. The Xoom does not have this problem.

One major benefit that the iPad has over the Xoom is that the community for Apple is much larger than seen for Motorola. Apple is renowned for their high quality and as a result has a lot of devoted users that are registered as developers. This means that the iPad is constantly supplied with new content such as applications and firmware updates. The app store is one of the largest in the world and therefore there is an extremely wide variety of games and other applications that are easily accessible through the iPad.

The Motorola Xoom has included the ability to read on the device and therefore the tablet has been classed as an e-reader in some cases, a very developed on in any case. But how does the Xoom compare as a reader to other devices on the reading market. The main reader on the market at the minute is the Kindle 3 and there are many differences between the Kindle and the Xoom, simply due to the fact that the Xoom is a multi-media tablet rather than an e-reader.

Motorola Xoom vs. Kindle 3

 

The main difference between the Kindle 3 and the Motorola Xoom is the screen and this is reflective to the purposes of the devices. The Kindle 3 features an eInk screen, this is a black and white display and works on the principles of contrast rather than a backlight as the Xoom does. The main advantage of an eInk screen is the ability to read in direct sunlight, as there is no glare on the screen and also the prolonged battery life due to the fact that an eInk reader only consumes battery when a page is refreshed in comparison to the Xoom which is a backlit display and will therefore consume battery constantly. However the eInk screen would not be effective at displaying media due to the lack of color and therefore it depends on the users intentions for the device as to which screen would suit their needs more.

Reading on the Xoom is a fairly pleasurable experience. With the partnership with Google the Xoom has a wide range of reading applications that can be used on the device, much more than the Blackberry Playbook which only offers the Kobo reading app to its users. The color screen also offers advantages that an eInk screen such as the Kindle cannot. This includes books where color may be important allowing the Xoom to effectively display comics, children's books, magazines and cookbooks. This is always a nice benefit and with the wide range of applications the standard features found on an eInk reader such as highlighting and note making can also be achieved.

There are two major problems with using the Xoom as a reader however, firstly the screen on the Xoom is backlit due to it being a color screen display and therefore when the user is reading for a long period of time the brightness of the screen can cause a lot of strain to the user's eyes. Also there is the problem of reading within bright light, the Xoom has an LCD display which is highly reflective and therefore when reading in bright light the user can experience a lot of discomfort due to the glare and reflection on the screen. Not only this but smudges from the screen being touched can also obscure the display.

In terms of a reader the Xoom is effective if you are looking at the reading ability as an extra not a necessity, for novels and long-time reading the Xoom is useless as it strains the eyes and the battery runs flat much quicker than on a device designed specifically for reading. Not only this but the price is much higher than any eInk reading device, therefore for sole reading purposes a device such as the Kindle is more beneficial. If the user is looking for a reading capability on their multi-media device then the Motorola Xoom is probably the best tablet on the market for facilitating reading.

The Good

One of the best features on the Xoom is the inclusion of a HDMI port allowing the user to connect the device to a television or monitor, this gives the user a much wider range of options with the media on their device and one of the best features is being able to watch films that are stored on the device on a larger screen, there is also the ability to display photographs on the screen which can be useful in many different scenarios.

The Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system is another major benefit of the Xoom as it uses top of the range technology and has a range of features that are superior to some other operating systems. The Honeycomb OS is particularly advanced when it comes to multi-tasking on the device, this alongside the fast processor means that the Xoom can carry out a large range of tasks at any one point.

The micro SD cards are another plus for the Motorola Xoom as expandable memory is a luxury that many of the other tablets on the market do not offer. This gives the user much more choice when it comes to storage on the device as even after the internal memory is full a memory card can be added. When the expandable memory is full there is no reason why the user cannot have a range of memory cards storing data and simply swap them around as and when they are needed.

The Bad

Although the OS top of the range it is important not to forget that some areas of the Android Honeycomb may not be fully developed yet, in general, the feedback for the Android Honeycomb has been positive from both users and critics however there are a few stability issues with the OS. This could cause potential problems however it is something that will soon be addressed when the OS is updated.

The Xoom is very expensive and is definitely amongst the more premium tablets at a retail of around $700 therefore it is around the same price as the iPad which in some ways has much better features than the Xoom such as a stronger support for users, for example apple stores where users can go for help if they are experiencing any problems with the device and also the display on the iPad has better color and clarity. The price may come down as the reader gets slightly older however, when this happens, price will become less of an issue.

Some of the video playback on the device has really disappointed users as it can be fairly blocky and lag a fair bit. This is a major downside and also fairly odd due to the hardware of the device being able to cope with video easily. It seems to be down to the software on the device more than anything else or even the OS and therefore it is hoped that Motorola will take a look at this issue and address it in the near future.

The Bottom Line

The Motorola Xoom is a nice tablet, the hardware is the best bit of the Xoom with the device being well constructed and well built. The major problem with the Xoom is the high retail price as with this being the first device of this nature released by Motorola the high cost may put people off buying the device as for the same amount of money they could buy another device such as the iPad which is much more trusted as it has been on the market much longer.

The Xoom will do everything the user requires on it and the only problems are slight with the device seeming rough around the wedges, there is a lot of promise that any of these minor problems will be ironed out by later software updates. I doubt it will be long before another OS is introduced that can upgrade the Xoom, which I'm sure will be available in a firmware update.

The Xoom is a solid and reliable device and does everything that is required of a multi-media tablet. If money is not an option then the Xoom is going to be an option, the design is nice and the device will do what any other tablet on the market will do.

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