24
Feb
Motorola-Xoom-Tablet1

It's launch day for the XOOM, and already the major news outlets have had a chance to spend a few days with the much anticipated device. Not only does the XOOM bring a new standard in high-end to the masses (a la Tegra 2), but it's also the first device to ship with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) on board. It's also really the second major Android tablet to launch (the Galaxy Tab being the first), and the first to match the 10" form factor of the iPad. But how does it fare? Let's take a look at what our reviewers thought.

Scobleizer

Robert Scoble is a self-proclaimed "iPad freak," so it's surprising (and relieving) to see him say:

For the past few days I’ve had a Motorola Xoom. I accepted a loaner because I wanted to prove that it would suck next to an iPad.

One problem: I’m falling in love with it.

However, he does note that there are two important caveats. First, there are no apps specifically designed for the tablet. And second, that the iPad 2 is coming, with the unveiling likely to happen in just a few weeks (March 2). In other words, there's not enough app-level support for Android tablets, and the iPad 2 is just around the corner and nobody really knows how much it will raise the bar.

Mr. Scoble goes on to note the things he loves that Android just does well; it's interesting to read them, given that they're from an Apple fan's perspective.

[Source: Scobleizer]

Engadget

xoom_engad

Unsurprisingly, Joshua Topolsky handled the review for Engadget. Rather infamously, Josh is a bit of an Apple fan, so once again, it's interesting to read his opinion of a tablet that was designed with the iPad in mind. Ultimately he found it to be a likeable product, but noted a few significant shortcomings:

Despite the drawbacks that we've outlined in this review, there is actually a lot about the Xoom to like. Besides boasting what we consider to be the most complete and clearly functioning version of Android, the hardware which is packed inside Motorola's tablet is really quite good. The tablet is fast and sleek, and while not exactly being really futureproof, the fact that you've got a path to a 4G upgrade is tremendous (and frankly, something no one else in the industry is offering).

The problem with the Xoom isn't really about the core of the experience or the core of the hardware -- it's about the details. Too much in both the design (like those wonky buttons) or the software (like the feeling that this is all very much in beta) makes you wonder if this wasn't rushed out to market in order to beat the next wave from Apple. Regardless, there isn't much here for consumers right now. The Android Market is almost devoid of tablet applications, the OS feels buggy and unfinished, and the hardware has pain points that we find troubling. And that's to say nothing of the pricing and carrier commitments being asked of first-time buyers.

Is the Xoom a real competitor to the iPad? Absolutely. In fact, it outclasses the iPad in many ways. Still, the end user experience isn't nearly where it needs to be, and until Google paints its tablet strategy and software picture more clearly, we'd suggest a wait-and-see approach. Honeycomb and the Xoom are spectacular -- unfortunately they're a spectacular work in progress.

As usual, Josh's review is thorough and very well written - definitely worth a full read.

[Source: Engadget]

Boy Genius Report

xoom_bgr

Jonathan Geller takes the reigns for BGR, and comes away pretty impressed, saying:

I’m not sure how much better an Android tablet can get right now — and this is the first one we’ve reviewed here at BGR. The Motorola XOOM packs a serious punch, and doesn’t have room to store an ice pack. I love that Motorola has been pushing forward with innovate ideas and concepts, most notably with the ATRIX 4G, and the XOOM isn’t an exception. It features great hardware, impressive specifications, and the latest Android OS designed just for tablets. There are many things to rave about with the XOOM, though there were some annoyances and frustrations that stemmed from Google’s OS for the most part and not from Motorola’s hardware.

Despite being impressed with the device, he's not exactly sold on the form factor and Honeycomb:

Tablets are the new craze, and while they are selling, I personally still don’t see a huge need to have a tablet. As a toy used to discover new and incredible apps, and to use for 20 or 30 minutes a day to read and catch up on Twitter or do some emailing, sure. But the XOOM definitely can’t replace a laptop. I think that the Motorola XOOM is a great product, I’m just not 100% sold on Honeycomb at this point as an operating system. I don’t believe it’s very innovative, and I don’t find it to be any better than alternatives in terms of ease of use, intuitiveness, or wide availability of apps.

[Source: Boy Genius Report]

AnandTech

xoom_anand

Last, but definitely not least, is Anand from AnandTech. As usual for the outlet, the review is an unbelievably thorough monster at 15 pages. Also unsurprising is that Anand exhibits a particular appreciation for the hardware, but notes that there are still a few shortcomings: notably, the price,  a middling screen, and (once again) some issues with Honeycomb.

It's a bit tougher to get a concise opinion on this one (again, Anand is extremely exhaustive in his reviews), but it all boils down to this:

Overall I am very excited to see Honeycomb tablets hit the market. Last year was mostly a waste when it came to non-iPad tablets, but this year looks to be quite the opposite.

This conclusion is obviously unfair to Apple given the rumored impending release of the iPad 2, but if I had to buy a tablet today it’d probably be the Xoom.

If I wasn’t insane however, I’d wait to see what was being announced on March 2nd first.

[Source: AnandTech]

Conclusion

Ultimately, it looks like the XOOM is a very good tablet, despite a few drawbacks. Perhaps most surprising among them is that Honeycomb still lacks a bit of polish; least surprising is likely the debate of whether or not the price is justified. Perhaps most importantly, the reviewers are all waiting to see what kind of improvements the iPad 2 will bring before making a final call.

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Dan

    Personally, I think you'd have to be nuts to buy one of these things. With Samsung, LG, Toshiba, and HTC releasing tablets very soon, the price is sure to drop. Not to mention the iPad 2, which might cause a sudden Xoom price drop. Plus, since Google just released the SDK for 3.0, there are no apps.

    And you really shouldn't be surprised that Android 3.0 is kinda half-baked at this point. What does Google ever do that isn't? It took over a week for the new desktop version of the Android market to decide to work with my Evo.

    I am actually interested in a tablet, but, as always, I'll wait for HTC to release something and fix all of the things Google should have gotten right to start with in 3.0. And I'll wait for Netflix. And Google Music/Video. And Flash. Those features would make an Android 3.0 tab complete. As of today, it's just a sweet toy for early adopters.

    Now, I'm heading to Best Buy to play with a Xoom, if they'll let me =)

    • Álmos

      The HTC tablet is a joke. They should have released that a year ago to be successful... 7", no Tegra 2, no Honeycomb...

      • Tyler

        I agree 100%.. No reason why they never released it in 2010. It feels outdated already. I wanted to support HTC but now im debating on the 3D LG , Xoom and Galaxy tab 2

      • Dan

        Sorry, I meant the upcoming HTC Honeycomb tablet that only exists in my head (but come on, we know they're making one).

  • http://www.toysdiva.com PixelSlave

    I am going to wait for a HC port on the Nook Color. I tried the preview version done using SDK, and it's impressive enough. The AOSP version will definitely make it more suitable for everyday usages.

    This should address my need for a year or so. At that time, I believe tablet prices will be driven down significantly.

  • Asphyx

    Well here is what I gleaned from all those disparate but similar reviews...

    Great Hardware but the software isn't really there yet both because it is brand new and not FULLY as developed as iOS or the phone version of Android is yet.

    If software is the only thing holding it back then I will definitly get one of these! But like others said NOW is not the time to buy it. Not until the pricing comes down once there are more pads running honeycomb.

    And I think it is safe to say that Google didn't make Honeycomb to be a Moto Exclusive!

    But their relationship sure brought Motorola back into the phone and pad game didn't it?

  • Dan

    So I just spent about 20 min with the Xoom and here are my impressions:

    3.0 is extremely powerful, but the Xoom and Honeycomb were rushed to market. For instance, the Books app didn't work. Neither did the notification system. I paused a song in the media player and didn't get a notification icon in the task bar. There were very few widgets and they were all pretty lackluster. The gmail widget is a great idea but it's way too small. I'm not sure what the point of the stacks widget is, other than to look cool. It would be much faster to tap the Books shortcut than to flip thru 20 books one at a time to find the right one. Maybe this would work with your personal photos, but the widget would have to be much larger.

    The UI isn't as intuitive as it could be, but overall it would only take an afternoon to become fluent with it - and it's way, way better than Gingerbread. I really like the new action bar. Sure it's way more complex than what iOS offers, but the potential to "unhide" a lot of Android's menu options and make them accessible is pretty amazing.

    But here's my main problem: only tech nerds like me would buy this. Why? Well Best Buy didn't bother to put one on display, and they only received 3! At Best Buy in Brooklyn, population: 2.567 million. Amazing. The Verizon store had one you could play with but it had no pictures preloaded in the gallery to show of that nice big screen, no dummy Gmail account to show off the sweet Gmail app or contacts app, the Books app failed but it wouldn't matter anyways because you need to set it up with an account, the Market wouldn't work without an account, there actually was music preloaded which was nice, and there were no videos preloaded to show off the 16:10 aspect ratio. They had it set up right next to an iPad which did have content loaded on it that really showed off its capabilities. If some random person walked into the store that didn't know or care about Honeycomb or iOS but wanted to buy a tablet, there's no way even I could sell them that Xoom over an iPad.

    A Xoom preloaded with tons of beautiful tablet-sized widgets, maybe the SI app or another cool magazine, a dummy Android account, great photos and videos, a huge selection of books and a lower price and you could sell this thing.

    As it is, without apps or widgets that take advantage of the tablet from factor, the Xoom is a really hard sell to anyone that wasn't ready to buy one a month ago. It felt like a shell of an ecosystem.

    Topolsky at Engadget was right, 7/10. A work in progress but one with HUGE potential.

  • brad

    Well, I have to say, the current IPAD has a lot of issues and quirks. And I dont really think that the IPAD was perfect coming out of the box.

    I never thought IPAD was all that great anyway. Nice design, nice hype. But really, what can it offer. Its your basic apple limited hardware software nicely design piece of plastic, glass and metal.

    How can you compare future tablets from any OS and any maker with IPAD. It cant even play flash.

    Whatever. ......

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