Motorola Xoom review

Motorola Xoom review

Can Motorola's Xoom tablet, sold by Telstra in Australia, compete with the iPad 2?

The Motorola Xoom tablet.

The Motorola Xoom tablet.

Motorola's Xoom tablet runs version 3.0 of Google's Android operating system — dubbed Honeycomb. Honeycomb is the first version of Android to be designed for use with tablets; previous versions were optimised for the smaller screens of smartphones.

Like the Motorola Atrix smartphone, in Australia the Xoom can be purchased from Telstra from 24 May onwards, either for $840 outright or by signing up to a monthly plan that includes a data package for mobile Internet browsing.

The Xoom is equipped with a 10.1-inch touchscreen — the iPad 2 has a 9.7in display. The Xoom is well built and well designed, though at 730g it is quite hefty.

On the top of the Xoom are a headphone jack and a microSD card slot. The card slot is non-functional, but Motorola says it will be usable after an Android update is deployed. At the bottom you find a microUSB port, power, and a mini-HDMI port.

Motorola Xoom

The tablet's display has a resolution of 1280x800 pixels. It produces vibrant colours, though it is hard to see in direct sunlight. Text wasn't as crisp as I hoped it would be; this was particularly noticeable when reading books. The capacitive touchscreen is responsible.

The Motorola Xoom is one of the first tablets to run the Honeycomb version of Android. This version of the OS has a tablet-friendly interface, including an "action bar" and a redesigned keyboard.

The Xoom's Web browser is slick and displays Flash content; it also supports tabbed Web browsing.

Despite all the positives of Android Honeycomb, it is clear the software is still in its infancy, so the overall out-of-the-box experience isn't as slick as it could be.

One of the big issues is the lack of third-party Honeycomb-optimised apps. Default Android apps like Maps, Gmail and YouTube worked excellently, and there are a handful of downloadable apps like Angry Birds and Pulse News Reader that filled the screen perfectly and worked without issue. But many apps in the Android Market simply resize to fit the Xoom's screen.

The Motorola Xoom is powered by a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and 1GB RAM. The tablet felt speedy throughout testing, even when running multiple applications.

The Motorola Xoom has a rear 5-megapixel camera, and a 2-megapixel front camera for video calls.

Motorola claims the Xoom's battery is good for up to 10 hours; I experienced almost nine hours in our tests. This makes the Xoom the clear leader in Android tablets when it comes to battery life, though the iPad 2 is still king in the tablet market overall.

Further reading: Acer Iconia a500 Android tablet review.

Original review: Ross Catanzariti, GoodGearGuide.

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